This is a carefully thought-out, carefully crafted response to the question “What do you do?”

Accepting that I have counselled you always to find out about the other person and their activities, at some point in the conversation you will have to (and want to) explain what you do.

Let’s explore the concept of developing a 30-second commercial, also known as an ‘elevator pitch’ –

According to Wikipedia: “The concept of an ‘elevator pitch’ reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. It is widely credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso (while he was editor for Vanity Fair) for its origin.

The term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the  conversation will either continue after the elevator ride, or end in exchange of business cards or a scheduled meeting.”

It is essential that you make your response to that ‘What do you do?’ question impactful, relevant and compelling. It must contain information that engages the listener immediately and allows them to see what’s in it for them. It’s common in networking, but it is also relevant in other circumstances where you need to get your message across fast.

The 30-second commercial should contain the following elements:

• Who you typically work with.

• In what industry or sector.

•  Three situations that are not working for them and causing them worry and keeping them up at night.

The key to the 30-second commercial proposition is to use phrases and pain words and identify negative experiences that you know they suffer in their specific industry. •  The commercial should end in an open question that requires a response from the person you are speaking to.

Here are some examples from organisations I have worked with:


Typically, I work with executives in the property industry, who are frustrated that they are not motivating their team effectively.

Or – Irritated that pitches are not gaining support from their investors.

Or – Worried that the cost of their pitches are not winning the amount of business they require •

I don’t suppose that is happening in your industry or to people you know?


Typically, I work with high net-worth individuals and their PAs who lease aircraft and are frustrated that they are not gaining the level of service they require.

Or – They are irritated that they do not get the quality of aircraft they expect.

Or – They are worried that the lack of quality reflects badly on them •

I don’t suppose that is happening in your industry or to people you know?

Here is a blank for you to fill in with the appropriate 3 scenarios affecting the industries and the people you work with:

Typically, I work with (WHO) individuals in the (INDUSTRY/SECTOR).




I don’t suppose that is happening in your industry or to people you know?


Try and get the prospect to do 70% of the talking during a sales conversation and you should only do 30% of the talking.

In any situation where you are seeking to understand the other person and find out what is happening for them both personally and professionally, there is a formula that we need to adhere to. It is called the 70% – 30% rule and is used by all the most professional sales people.

To avoid confusion, this is not Pareto’s 80-20 rule but one known as The 70/30 Rule of Communication.

This rule states that you should get the prospect to do 70% of the talking during a sales conversation and the sales person should only do 30% of the talking. 

This is a smart move in any conversation where you want to get the most positive results. Your 30% can be invested in asking deeper and more searching questions, having asked permission to do so. This process can also be used when you are in a prospecting or face-to-face business  pitching situation. You will learn far more about your prospects fears, worries and pain when you ask searching questions.  

Taken from my book Stand Up and Sell