Communicating as a Leader

A Great One-liner Opens the Door for More Ideal Customers to Walk Through

Elizabeth Gordon asked:

Getting more clients starts with getting your foot in the door. A great one-liner can be your door man, and get more customers and partners to come in and start a relationship with your company. Before anyone is going to do business with you, they must first understand why you are in business in the first place. While this may seem obvious to you, each new person you meet needs to hear your story in a way that will make them want to be a part of it. That first simple sentence can make all the difference. A great one-liner makes you stand out from the crowd and can turn casual conversations into the beginnings of great business deals. How? A concise explanation of your company in the form of a savvy one-liner shows that you know what you do, you’re clever and it will sink into the mind of your target client immediately just like a one-liner in a movie. That one memorable line that stays with you, long after the popcorn and candy have been eaten and the lights have come up. You remember the feeling that line invoked in you and it makes you want to come back for more. A great one liner, gets you your first yes, in the form of a, “Tell me more,” response. That way when you start your pitch, your prospect is already hooked.

How many times do you get asked, so what do you do? When talking to anyone you meet who could be a potential client or might know or have relationships with people who are potential clients, your goal is to earn the right to keep talking, to incite curiosity and to get them to ask you to talk more. This initial answer to that question is not meant to be a full explanation of your entire life’s work. Instead the intent here is to get them interested and to get them to ask you a question so you can tell them more. To be memorable you must be different.

At the Flourishing Business our tagline for our consulting practice is short and sweet, “We help entrepreneurs make smart decisions and avoid potential pitfalls.” It immediately gets a person with any connection to entrepreneurs to say, “How do you do that?” if they’re truly interested. Most people make the mistake of launching into their pitch too quickly without giving a short and informative amount of information about their company. By using a teasing one-liner you tell the main benefit that your company provides and who your target market is before launching into details that may not be required or desired. If your prospect is interested after hearing your one-liner they will want to know more and ask for that information rather than you forcing it on them. The goal of the one-liner isn’t to sell it’s to continue a qualified conversation.

Once you’ve gotten past the one-liner, you have to be able to deliver a sixty second introduction to your business that compels investors and customers to want to learn more about you. This is your elevator pitch and you need to craft it strategically without making it rigid. You should have all of the points you want to express in mind, but be sure not to make it sound like a canned speech. No one wants to hear a pre-recorded spiel. Your pitch needs to begin with a hook such as a compelling customer example. You should have several in mind that you can tell based on who you’re talking to. If you’re speaking with a restaurateur you can use an example of another restaurant or similar type of service establishment that used your product or services and then tell your prospect (using numbers if possible) the benefits that they received. Then you need to answer the question “Who are you?” In your pitch you need to talk about your company, not just the product or service it provides. You also need to paint a picture in an individual’s mind about how you can solve customer problems. Ask them pointed questions, so you can tailor your comments to be relevant to them.

Also, remember that all verbal communication has a non-verbal component. Make sure your body language conveys enthusiasm, knowledge, confidence, openness, and friendliness. Your body language needs to be non-threatening and not feel pushy. People like to do business with people they like. Even in situations where one vendor is better qualified than another, most people will still end up picking the one they like better. Don’t forget that business decisions are made by people and people making decisions based on emotion and then justify them with facts, not the other way around. So it is important to come across as a likeable person. If you don’t get them to like you, often your professional competence will become irrelevant. Crossed arms, encroaching on someone’s personal space and looking at your watch are unacceptable actions. Eye contact should show attention and interest, but not feel forced on unnatural. With that said, you must remember to mirror the demeanor of your audience. If they’re jacked up on caffeine and excited, get excited while you’re talking to them and mirror their mannerisms. If they’re laid back and calm, mirror that behavior. The non-verbal component to your one-liner and pitch are critical, so have your wits about you and don’t rely on your well-chosen words to do all of the work for you. A great way to reinforce non-verbal communication is by taking a speech and debate class or by joining a club like Toast Masters, a group that has regional branches, is relatively inexpensive for weekly meetings and gives members the opportunity to practice any kind of public speaking. The Flourishing Business Forum is another group that provides a way for business owners to develop their skills in this area and get feedback from other aspiring flourishing business owners in a mutually supportive environment. As your company grows it is important that everyone in your business from the VP of Sales to the receptionist can execute the one liner and elevator pitch. You never know where another great prospect might be lurking, so it important that everyone be prepared to talk intelligently and enticingly about the company at all times.

Successful business owners don’t just wing it when talking about their business. They know it is important to have a very specific method for introducing their company, their product or service and their value to people, including a great one-liner, a solid, tailored pitch and mannerisms that will all work together to get your foot in the door and past the reception area. For more information about how you can improve your business, visit

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