Develop a 20 to 40 Second Speech (Rule #26)

Do you know how long it takes to make a good (or bad) impression? Whether one is on the phone or face-to-face, research shows that it takes between 4 and 6 seconds.

Do you know how long it takes to establish credibility? 20 to 40 seconds.

The problem with most salespeople is that they don’t take full advantage of the 20 to 40 seconds that people will give them. They may make a strong impression in the first few moments but then either talk too long or not long enough.

Many a salesperson has picked up the telephone and said something like the following:

“Hi, this is Bob from Transco Techno-Wizard. We’re the premier provider of Techno-Wizards with offices in 27 countries. Our product was voted best in class at the recent Techno conference. Can I show you a demo?”

A bit exaggerated, but I hope you get the point. This is too short (10 seconds) and not overwhelmingly interesting or compelling. This type of approach would invariably lead to a “No thanks, not today” response.

The 20–40 Second Speech is a simple and flexible 4-part framework for a highly effective introductory sales pitch. It builds off what was created in Rule 25.

1. Introduction – Who Am I and What Do We Do?
You’ve already created a Summary Description. Use this after introducing yourself and your role. This should be crafted to use powerful and effective words that make a clear point.

2. Credibility – 1 to 2 Bragging Points.
Again, you’ve already created bullets of “bragging points” that emphasize your quality and give you credibility. It’s okay to brag, only not too long. Only one or two items here. At most three. Don’t overdo it. They really don’t care; they’re only being polite. But use the opportunity to strategically strut your stuff and pass the sniff test.

3. Problems – One or two Problems Observed.
This is the part that is often left out by salespeople. Use this section to voice real problems out there that others like your prospect are having. Of course, problems that your product solves, without talking about your product. For example: “Many executives tell us that consolidating operations and costs while maintaining productivity is a key focus.” The key here is to think of common problems your target customers have and which your product solves. (To mix it up, you might even start with these problem statements, after your initial name introduction.)

4. Transition – Open-Ended Question or Call to Action.
Now end this little speech and pass the ball over to the prospect to respond to your question or call to action. For example: “I’m wondering if this is something that you are facing too?” Or “I wanted to see if we could meet for coffee and discuss what we’ve done for others like you.”

Here’s another way that Bob in our earlier example might have conducted a 20–40 second speech:

(Intro) “Hi, this is Bob from Transco Techno-Wizard, an international tech services firm.
(Credibility) We’re the #1 worldwide distributor of Techno-Wizards, the market-leading product recently voted best in class at the recent Techno conference.
(Problems) In speaking to many customers, I’m often asked, “How can I lower my technology costs while improving my overall IT performance? That’s a great question.
(Transition) Let me ask you, how are you doing in terms of managing your IT spending in this challenging marketplace?”

This is not a script, but rather a framework for developing talking points to optimize an introductory conversation and take full advantage of the 20 to 40 seconds most prospects will give you.

By the way, use your own good judgment on whether it’s closer to 20 or 40 seconds. If the prospect on the other end of the phone gruffly answers and growls “Johnson speaking!” — you might want to go with the 20-second version. In any event, you’ll sound like a professional and give every prospect a fair chance to understand you, your offering and what it might do for them.

Do you have an effective 20 to 40 second introductory speech?