What Do You Do for a Living?
Any time I work with a new client, I ask them this question:
If I ran into you somewhere and I asked you, “What do you do for a living?” – what would you say?
Ninety-nine percent of the time, I get a long groan and a reluctant answer. In some cases, I hear a solid elevator pitch – but usually also a groan.
I get it. It’s not always a fun question to answer, and while you most likely do have something you say to prospects, you may not be confident telling it to someone like me, a marketing professional. I’ve found, over the years, that’s mainly due to a bit of insecurity – you may question whether you know what you’re saying, that you’re phrasing your pitch the right way, or that what you’re saying is even worth saying at all. We both know, that while you love what you do, the world of finance doesn’t always scream “sexy” to the average prospect, no matter how significant it is.
The bottom line is that the way you answer is important, and that includes how self-assured you are in your answer. Here are four fool-proof steps to creating a solid elevator pitch you can feel confident using, every time.
1. Don’t Beat Around the Bush
Somewhere along the way, advisors were given the advice to “deflect the question” when asked what they do for a living. I’ve heard clients say that they just ask what the other person does, or that they offer a vague statement about helping people realize their hopes and dreams. Usually, though, that kind of answer just makes the asker annoyed.
Yes, your statement should be creative and intriguing, but it’s important not to lose sight of the moment and the intention. If you’re talking to someone in person, whether you’re on the sideline of your kid’s soccer game or at a formal networking event—remember that the other person is just trying to make conversation. And if you answer “What do you do for a living?” with “I create ways for people to summer in Hawaii,” you will:
- Confuse the person. (Is he a travel agent? A life coach?)
- Annoy them. (Why doesn’t he want to tell me what he does?)
There’s nothing wrong with embellishing your answer with exciting details about hopes and dreams (or whatever your specialty is), but you should also genuinely answer the question. You can phrase it, “I own a financial practice and I help…” or “I’m an advisor and…” or “I work in finance and…” Then you can give them the big picture—you can tell them your brand promise, ask them a question, or tell them specifically how you help people. Just don’t try to be overly clever, and don’t beat around the bush.
2. Focus on Your Clients
If you’re worried about sounding boring or tooting your own horn, framing your answer from your clients’ perspective is a great way to give a clear picture of what you do and how you help people. Think about:
- Who you help
- How you help them
- What clients get from working with you
When you frame your answer, be specific about your target market. This is (hopefully) similar to messaging you already have on your website or social media. Some questions to consider might be:
Are most of your clients retirees? Teachers? Physicians?
What exactly do you help them do (for the most part)? Do you create foolproof life insurance policies? Do you specialize in retirement planning, or aggressive investment strategies?
And then, how does your service help your clients in the long run? Do they have more peace about their children’s future? Do you save them time so they can focus on their growing business? Tell the person the overall outcome after working with you.
Once you identify these points, your answer could look something like this:
“I’m an advisor who helps teachers get the most out of their retirement planning so they can keep doing the job they love without worrying about their future finances.”
It’s simple. It answers the question. And it’s not boring or pretentious—the other person can immediately picture a teacher and the important job they do, and grasp the significance of your services. Better yet, they might think of one of their friends who’s a teacher—and because you didn’t just annoy them with a shady answer, you might become an advisor they know, like, and trust. They might just give you a referral in the future.
3. Showcase Your Specialty
I’ve met a lot of different financial advisors. They all have basically the same job title, and they’re all great at what they do—but they’re still unique. Your practice is not the same as Joe Financial down the street, and his isn’t the same as the next advisor’s. Find the element that sets you apart and makes your practice unique. If you have a knack for educating resident physicians so they can plan for their financial future, mention that. If you have a passion for working with single moms, say that. If you’ve been in the business for thirty years, don’t be afraid to make that part of your elevator pitch.
If you want your elevator pitch to work for you, you have to practice using it. Ask your spouse to run through it with you, say it to yourself while you’re driving—whatever you have to do, memorize it. This won’t make you sound ingenuine; it’ll make you sound like a natural. It might be painful at first, but the more you use your elevator pitch, the more it will become second nature.
See? Four easy steps. It’s a simple process that a lot of advisors (and professionals in general) don’t take the time to leverage. But I promise you, it’ll be worth it if you do. If you need help nailing your elevator pitch, don’t hesitate to reach out! Sometimes all it takes is another person walking you through the process.