You lost me at “Hello”

Don’t risk that. Be ready to tell them what you do in 30 seconds or less

By Richard McKinley

Posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

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Know what you’re going to say

The first moments of a conversation with a prospective customer are your best opportunity to establish what you and your business can do for them. It’s your chance to make it clear you’re a professional and to take control of the conversation.

The Elevator Speech or Elevator Pitch is it’s a brief but persuasive summary of who you are and what you do. It’s the first step to leading the customer through the sales process and getting the order—and the deposit.

Here’s what you need to remember as you create your elevator speech:

Establish the goal of your speech. You want to start a dialog that will lead to a sale and solve the customer’s signage problem or need.

Explain what you do. Use an effective description featuring your accomplishments.

Put it together. Your description should be no more than 20 to 30 seconds long.

Maintain a smooth and easy-going delivery. Speak as if you were talking with a friend.

Finish with an open-ended question, one that cannot be answered with a yes or no.

Watch your body language. This is the right time for a smile. Don’t slouch or cross your arms.

Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the more natural your delivery will be. —Richard
A prospective customer enters your shop. After the “Hellos,” what do you say?

I have heard sign shop owners say, “Why am I in business for myself? I could be working at the XYZ company, making a good living, rather than giving my work away.”

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Richard McKinley is semi-retired from the sign business and the promotional products industry. He lives in Howard, Ohio. He can be reached at

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