Are your prospects as smart as a six-year-old?
Regardless of whether you prefer the snarky version of this acronym or the kinder, gentler version, the gist of it is the same: Keep it simple. This advice is invaluable in a whole slew of situations, both personal and professional, and it sounds like it would be simple to apply.
Ah, if only it were so.
It’s a source of ongoing bemusement to me how many otherwise smart entrepreneurs find it so difficult to apply the simplicity principle when it comes to describing their services. Although maybe it shouldn’t surprise me; after all, there are so damn many ways you can efficiently avoid simplicity when someone asks, “So what do you do?” You can:
- fall into jargon
- talk about how you do the work (your processes)
- be overly heady and fail to address the listener’s emotions
- talk on and on about every little product and service you offer
- yadda yadda yadda
As a case in point, check out the description of a past job that one of my favorite people posted on her LinkedIn profile:
Complex solution sale of all non-application development tools to named Fortune 500 MVS accounts. Special focus on flagship product for cross-platform Enterprise Management.
Fortunately, Pat Schuler, founder of Kick-Butt Sales Training, knows that this means little to nothing to most people, and she also knows how important it is to let her authentic voice come through. She’s met the expectations of many LinkedIn readers for a professional-sounding job description, and she’s found a way to explain clearly her job in her natural, somewhat smart-aleck style. She did this by adding the following sentence to the gobbledygook above:
Plain English Translation: I sold great big software programs to great big companies.
In other words, Pat was able to explain her job in language your average six-year-old can understand.
Powerful communications are simple to understand.
This may feel very risky. Won’t your prospects think you’re being condescending by “dumbing down” to this level of simplicity? Won’t you look unprofessional? Won’t you fail to dazzle them with your brilliance?
In my experience, the answers are “no,” “no,” and “no.”
There are already WAY too many messages battering your prospects every day. If you can cut through unnecessary crap to let them know—simply, briefly, and powerfully—how you can relieve their pain, they’ll be both impressed and grateful.
So…Are you courageous enough to evaluate whether your answer to “What do you do?” would make sense to a six-year-old? I challenge you to take a long, hard look at your “elevator speech” to see if it would make the cut.
By the way, thanks to the Bonner Springs Library for posting their picture in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.This entry was posted in marketing, professional skills and tagged effectiveness, networking. Bookmark the permalink.
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