What’s all the fuss about Elevator Speeches?

by M Tombs
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I got into a lift the other day, heading for a meeting on the 16th floor. On the 2nd, a man got in. As the floors flashed by he politely asked what business I was in.

“I’m an accountant,” I replied.

“Nice,” said the man. He got out on the 15th without saying another word.

My first reaction was this poor chap must have had a lousy experience with other accountants in the past. Then I got to thinking. What did I expect him to say?

“That’s fascinating. Tell me more.”… I don’t think so.

That one word, “accountant” was not only a conversation-killer but did nothing to describe what I really do for my clients. I needed an elevator speech. An enticing cocktail of benefits, laced with a unique proposition, shaken (not stirred) into a sub-30 sec sermon that would set me apart and make that man in the lift beg for more.

But how was I to render down all my years of experience and a whole website full of information into a few memorable words. Not just memorable, they had to excite the casual listener and instantly convey the essence of my business. And all without the aid of Spock’s mind-melding powers. Like every good barman, I started by listing the ingredients.

  • My target market. It’s important to identify who you sell to. Being specific won’t put off potential buyers but will make those you are targeting feel included.
  • The key benefits of my services. What do my customers gain by hiring me?
  • What sets me apart from other accountants?

Notice – no mention of accounts or balance sheets; books or budgets.

Q. Who do I sell to?

UK business with a turnover greater than £1m and less than £10m.

Q. What do my customers gain by using my services?

A. A knowledgeable partner who can make a real difference to their business by giving hands-on, practical advice to help build their bottom line

Q. What sets me apart from other accountants?

A. I reach the parts other accountants never reach.

So, my new elevator speech might go something like this:

“I’m Mike Tombs and I’m a financial horticulturist. I work with owner-managed businesses to help them grow.”


“I’m Mike Tombs and my company is TLA Business Services. We help growing businesses to reach their goals by going where other accountants fear to tread.”

or even…

“I’m Mike Tombs and my company is TLA Business Services. While other accountants may count the beans, we help make them grow.”

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