Generic answers lead to lost opportunities

By Maribeth Kuzmeski

Red Zone Marketing, Inc

If you find yourself constantly resorting to generic answers when people ask you questions about yourself, it's time to rethink your approach. We can so often drift through our day, not even seeing the opportunities in the conversations with others. From the simplest "Hey, how are you?" to the more complex questions you are asked throughout your work day -- how often do you take time to answer the questions fully?

Many try to get by answering in as few words as possible, but in a world where relationships are a key to success, I'm not sure this approach is really helping.

A critical question we so often shy away from giving a powerful answer to, one that can open doors to a world of opportunity is: What do you do?

I have heard even the most seasoned professionals use the old standard, black and white description of their business. As an example: "I am a financial advisor." Although you are concisely stating exactly what you do for the person that asked, you are also opening the door for all of the stereotypes and preconceived notions they associate with that title or profession. For many, you would be tossed into the broad category of salesmen and forgotten in their minds. Simply said: The real benefits are being left open to hope (I sure hope they know what a financial advisor does). But in order for action, they must want what you have (and it's your job to make them want it).

However, talking about yourself and your products often come across as sales-y or boastful. For example, if a financial advisor says, "I have a special expertise in building portfolios through my CFA designation." Ok, so what does that really mean to the person you are talking to? Instead, try using a phrase that I have heard some of the top advisors we work with use. Follow the black and white feature statement with an absolute home run sentence that gives you the right to talk about your expertise or other benefits of your services: Follow: "I have a CFA designation" with "And let me tell you why I think that's important."

The statement gives you the right to share why something may be important to them. It will still be a factual description of what you do -- but this time with meaning directly for the person you're talking with. And it may be just the opportunity you have given yourself to put preconceived notions to rest and build your value -- without coming across "sales-y."