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Kiwi's Coaching Corner

By Paul Kiewiet

About Paul

Useful tips to help you get from where you are to where you want to go. Paul Kiewiet, MAS is an industry veteran providing business and life coaching, industry consulting and facilitation, and professional development services through BrandKiwi LLC.

Ask the Accountant

Harriet Gatter
Do I Have to Collect Sales Tax for Out-of-state Sales?
Oct 2, 2015

Question: Do I have to collect sales tax for out-of-state sales? It depends, and it's complicated. State governments would like...

Jeff's Rant

Jeff Solomon, MAS
What Can We Learn from The Artist Formerly Known as Prince?
Oct 1, 2015

Since I recently wrote a commentary titled 'Are You Too Old To Rock,' I thought I would share another thought from the...

Lights, Camera, Promotion!

Brittany Hahn
The Mayor of Funkytown
Sep 23, 2015

Each Power Box has its own personality. Power Box 1 is really into dubstep music. He raves hard all weekend long. On...

Not So Technically Speaking

Dale Denham
Think About What You Just Did
Sep 22, 2015

My son did something wrong, and I want him to learn so he doesn't repeat the same mistake. I hear...

Million Dollar Mindset with Greg Muzzillo

Greg Muzzillo
11 Keys to Great Success in Life and Business: Key 5: Find Great Mentors
Sep 16, 2015

The most amazing thing I have found about massively successful people is that they both credit other people who mentored...

Guest Blogs

Guest Contributor
Ask the Accountant
Jul 24, 2015

Question: I am starting out as an ad specialty distributor. Is it better to set up my books on a...

Selling Smarter

Rosalie Marcus
Gotta Love These Supplier Best Practices
Sep 1, 2015

I’ve been in the promotional products industry for more than 25 years, both selling products and programs, and coaching and...

Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable

Rick Greene, MAS
A Cycle Of Engagement
Jun 10, 2015

In 2015, the journey of the promotional products professional in shifting prospects to clients is more challenging than ever. With...

Beyond Words

Rebecca Kollmann, MAS+
Swing All the Way Through
Apr 20, 2015

From time to time, I’ve written about a situation involving one of my kids, and after observing something recently, it’s...

Compliance Chat

Jeff Jacobs
The Exact Cause Was Never Determined
Apr 3, 2015

If you read what normally is in this space, you've seen a lot about the protocol it takes to manufacture...

Quick Thoughts by Cliff Quicksell, MAS

Cliff Quicksell, MAS
Measure the ROI at Trade Shows (Using the Right Mix of Creative and Promotional Products)
Dec 30, 2014

Every year more and more products are being introduced into the market, and after a while it all looks the...

Editor's Notes

Nichole Stella
The Perfect Match
Mar 5, 2013

The Super Bowl has also become the Ad Bowl, where brands duke it out to see who has the funniest,...


Kyle Richardson
The Best Laid Plans
Jul 11, 2014

Why it's always smart to keep a planner with your schedule and important documents, and why it's never smart to...

Promotional Fashionista

Colleen McKenna
5 Soccer Promotions for After the World Cup
Jul 1, 2014

Studies show that Americans prefer soccer to NASCAR. Here are five items to sell to soccer fans....

Mike's Blog

Michael Cornnell
Interview with Jason Black, CEO of Top Distributor Boundless Network
May 19, 2014

Ranking #19 on the Top 50 List, Black shares his thoughts on the future of the industry and what has...

The Hot Button

Mary Ellen Sokalski, MAS
"How It's Made" Can Make You More
Jun 11, 2014

The show "How Its Made" is celebrating its 22nd season on television. How can we be a hit, season after season,...

Be Dazzled

Elise Hacking Carr
Got Control Issues?
May 14, 2014

Does chaos define you? How you respond to certain situations says a lot about your character. Here are five quotes...

Big Picture Promo

Matt Kaspari, CAS
Meeting Clients Where They Are
Oct 24, 2013

Promotional marketing is at its best when it empowers a client’s brand, meets his or her objectives and fits within...

My Two Cents

Rick Brenner
For Promotional Product Sales, Protect Your Client's Brand
Jun 3, 2013

Whether you are selling to a global brand like Nike or to your local YMCA, no single asset is more...

Friday Sales-thought of the Week!

Dale Limes, MAS
Reverse Engineer Your Sales Success
Mar 18, 2013

Steven Covey reminds us that when setting goals ... "Start with the end in mind." That is to visualize the...

The Sales Challenge

Bill Farquharson
Think and Succeed
May 29, 2012

What would happen if you woke up in the morning and your first thought was, "I am never going to...

Creating More Purposeful Sales Conversations

Lisa Leitch, CSP, MAS
Under 100 Days to Achieve 2011 Goals
Oct 20, 2011

It's hard to believe, but there are fewer than 100 days left to achieve 2011 goals! Are you on track...

You DON'T Need An Elevator Speech


There is an old Egyptian proverb: "Your answers tell me how clever you are. Your questions tell me how wise you are."

Recently an old industry friend emailed me and said she was getting back into the business and was wondering if I would share with her my "elevator" speech. As most of you know, an elevator speech is that memorized little thirty-second or fifty word piece of bait that weʼre supposed to dangle in front of someone when they ask that inevitable question, "So, what is it that you do?" It derives its name from the amount of time you have in an elevator for a conversation. The idea is that you toss them that bait so you can hook ʻem, reel ʻem in and net ʻem before the elevator doors open. Maybe at least be able to exchange business cards and have a warm call to follow.

She was surprised when I told her that I donʼt have one and donʼt really believe in them. Iʼve been to seminars and workshops on how to craft a winning elevator speech and there have been books written on the subject. What I usually hear (and see) is a smug little recitation that sounds like a mission statement and a look on a face that is begging for me to tell them how clever they are. Those who have "crafted" their elevator speech often wait in eager anticipation for the fateful question, "So, what is it that you do?" Then they leave the elevator in disappointment that the fish didnʼt hit the bait. What happened?

The ubiquitous question, "So, what is it that you do?" is the precursor to the equally empty, "How are you?" After youʼve met someone, the "what" changes to the "how" and both questions are usually asked with equal curiosity and sincerity. Perhaps I could create a series of books, speeches and seminars on crafting your answer to "How are you?" (Iʼm just kidding.)

Obviously though, some of us are bamboozled when not prepared for the ever- popular, "So, what is it that you do?" question. We leave the elevator kicking and berating ourselves for what we said or left unsaid. Instead of crafting a lame, one-size-fits-all, buzzword-laden response, prepare yourself by knowing yourself.

1) What problems do you solve? What excites you about your chosen profession? How can you simplify the askerʼs life?

2) How are you different from anything or anyone else in the marketplace? Come on now! You donʼt have better customer service. You donʼt care more. You arenʼt more honest or have more integrity. You canʼt source better than anyone else. If there were a trade show where you were exhibiting along with every single one of your competitors, how would you stand out?

3) Why is your difference important to your customers? How are you more relevant to the needs of your customers? What are you doing that makes you a part of their team? How do you allow your customers to be a part of your company?

You need to be addressing those three questions with yourself every day. You need to be asking your customers the right questions to find out their pain points. This is the hard work. This is the hard work that pays. This work gives you honest, authentic, customer-focused answers to the question youʼve been waiting for, "So, what is it that you do?"


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