Every salesperson has a go-to spiel for when someone asks who you are and what you do. You might call it a talk track, elevator pitch, or script—but you've got one.
To avoid talking yourself out of a deal before you've made it off the elevator, check out the strategies below. They are four battle-tested ways to immediately improve your talk track and secure a follow-up meeting with a prospect you've just met.
What is a Talk Track?
A talk track is a short script, between one and three sentences long, that explains what you're selling. The goal of a talk track is to educate the person on the other end of the conversation about yourself, your company, and how both can eliminate their pain points.
Talk tracks are pretty simple in nature, but creating one from scratch isn't so easy. Use the structure below to create a succinct talk track for any industry.
7 Ways to Improve Your Sales Talk Track Immediately
1. Lose the vernacular.
Don't use jargon in your talk track. I often hear, "But my prospects know what it means" or "It lends me authority." Even if your audience understands what you're saying, they likely have associations with jargon that aren't positive or relevant to your conversation. There are two types of vernacular to avoid:
- Industry-speak: This is primarily used by technical salespeople and includes acronyms and words your college roommate probably wouldn't understand out of context. For example, if you're trying to sell someone on marketing consulting services, decide whether your old roommate, Sal, would understand terms like SERP, CRM, or traffic analysis. If Sal would think traffic analysis has something to do with actual cars -- rethink your language and swap "traffic analysis" with "... an analysis of visitors coming to your website."
- Business-speak: We're all guilty of using terms like "double down," "synergy," and "There's no there, there." But vernacular only serves to alienate and confuse your prospects. Ditch the jargon and replace it with nouns and verbs
When prospects ask, "What do you do?" it's not because they're interested. They're looking for an excuse to end the dialogue, and jargon gives them an easy way out. When employing vernacular that's widely used in your industry, you risk your prospect honing in on one word and ending the dialogue with, "Oh, we already have something like that."
2. Pick one thing to speak about.
Don't try to cover too much in your pitch. Ditch your "Well, we do three things…" opening line, and pick one thing to talk about -- even if it's not the thing they'll buy.
The purpose of the elevator pitch is to inspire curiosity and extend or establish a call. Like a good movie trailer, your pitch should be attention-grabbing and tease the bigger picture. Great trailers provide little of the actual movie plot, but they leave you with auditory and visual images that pique your curiosity.
Pick one thing that gives your company the biggest competitive edge, and make sure it's something you're proud of. My sales training has many unique elements, but when I have someone new on the phone, my pitch is always, "I got you live on my first attempt, and when I get your business I'll teach your reps to do the same thing."
"Live" is one of the biggest advantages of our training. We don't just do role play, we practice on live calls. By teasing "live" in my pitch, I plant seeds that will resonate with prospects long after the initial call.
3. Use hyperbole.
Did I actually get the person "live on my first attempt?" Maybe not, and my prospect might know they have two missed calls from me. This is an example of hyperbole, an exaggeration that both parties are aware of.
Words and phrases like "the best" or "the greatest" are examples of hyperbole. When I say, "I got you live on my first attempt, and when I get your business I'll teach your reps to do the same thing," it doesn't matter that this is my third call. What matters is the confidence and passion with which I deliver the line.
Too many salespeople take the Goldilocks approach to selling. They don't want to take their pitch too far, so they serve prospects lukewarm porridge with phrases like, "We have a great team of software developers" or "Customer service is a big priority for us."
Prospects like things hot or cold. Tell them you have "The best software developers in the world" or "Best-in-class customer service." You're not using hyperbole to convince or persuade, you're using it to show your prospect how much you believe in what you're selling.
The penalty for never using hyperbole is greater than using hyperbole where it's not required. If you take something too far, your prospects will tell you. I deeply believe salespeople are their own worst enemy, so stop being a seatbelt to yourself and just go with it.
4. End every pitch with a question.
Your talk track should always be about your prospect. Don't finish with "Does that make sense?" or "Is this something you'd be interested in?" These closing questions feel like a quiz and are more about you than them.
Instead, close with, "We have clients who love being able to build software anywhere in the world. How many software engineers do you have at your company?" This question doesn't demand that they've followed your whole spiel. If you've lost them, a question like this can actually gain their attention back.
5. Learn from the prospect.
In your conversation, take the position of being a student who has the opportunity to learn from the prospect. If you're only trying to gain power in the discussion and asking strictly about their budget, then you won't keep the prospect's attention.
Ask them questions like "Can you repeat that?" and "How does X work with Y?" When people believe their opinion matters they're more likely to talk.
The prospect will often be an expert in their field and getting them to talk more will not only give you a better understanding of the prospect's industry, but you'll also build rapport with the prospect and make them feel valued in the conversation.
6. Ask unexpected questions.
Ask the prospect questions they've likely never been asked before -- this will keep them engaged in your conversation. An example of an unexpected question is asking about a prospect's industry.
Let's say a rep is talking with a prospect from an airline. They've likely asked a dozen or so questions about the airline, their organization, and processes. In addition to those questions, the rep could ask a question like "With the fluctuating price of gas and oil, how does an airline operate in the anticipation of gas prices going up or down?"
Since it isn't a threatening or opportunistic question, the prospect will be more inclined to talk about it. The answer to a question like this is unlikely to be a game changer in the deal, but it does give you an additional rapport building point as well as a clearer idea of the environment the business operates in.
7. Ask about relationships with vendors.
Your prospect has likely worked with at least one or two vendors during their time at their employer. Ask them about successful and unsuccessful relationships they've had with their vendors to determine how you can help them where other vendors have fallen short.
Below are a conversation starters to get the prospect talking about their vendor relationships:
- How do you like the vendors you're working with?
- Tell me about the best vendor relationships your business had.
- What are you looking for in a vendor?
- Tell me about a vendor that disappointed you. What didn't they do well?
The answers to these questions provide information on how they've worked with their vendors. And you'll have a clearer idea of how your product and services can solve for the roadblocks the prospect might face.
Tips to Draft an Amazing Talk Track
If you already follow all the steps above but you're still looking to take your talk track up a notch, here are three tips that can help:
1. Focus on the customer's needs.
A sales talk track should be tailored to address the specific pain points and goals of the customer. Take the time to research and understand their needs before the conversation, and ensure that your talk track emphasizes how your product or service can solve their problems or help them achieve their objectives.
2. Use storytelling.
Incorporate compelling stories or case studies into your sales talk track to help illustrate the benefits and value of your offering. Storytelling helps create an emotional connection with the customer and makes your talk track more memorable and engaging. Consider sharing success stories from other customers who have achieved positive results using your product or service.
3. Practice active listening.
While it's essential to have a well-prepared sales talk track, it's equally important to actively listen to the customer throughout the conversation. Pay attention to their responses, ask open-ended questions to encourage discussion, and be flexible enough to adjust your talk track based on their feedback or needs. This allows you to have a more meaningful and two-way conversation, strengthening the relationship and increasing the chances of a successful sale.
If you've incorporated the previous practices into your script, you'll have spoken with great confidence about what you do. That inspires your prospect to mirror your confidence and reply, "We have 40 developers!" And that's how you start a dialogue and go deeper into the conversation — this is the goal of a great talk track.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.