Amal Masri

You’re at a wedding. You see a friend who waves you over and introduces you to his neighbour who owns a business. It’s great timing. She was just talking about how she had some big decisions to make about managing her assets.

The neighbour mentions she’s met a few advisors and asks about your practice. You’re caught off guard. You didn’t expect to be talking business. So you say a few things about your background and your services. The band starts to play. You give her your card and say you’d be pleased to chat.

And off you go, back to your table. You realize you didn’t say anything awful, but you didn’t say anything great either. And you could have. You have a successful business, you excel at solving problems and you have a lot of happy clients.

But the neighbour doesn’t know this. The way your story came out, she thinks you’re just another advisor. And she’s been approached by many. Your financial services may be the best by a long shot. But people don’t necessarily buy the best services or products. They buy the ones they understand the fastest. In a recent study of 2,000 adults, Canadian researchers found that between the years 2000 and 2015, the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds – one second shorter than the nine-second attention span of a goldfish.1

But how? How can you help prospects understand your services faster?

It’s simple, yet powerful. First, you have to change the way you talk about what you do as an advisor. You have to focus on the audience so that their problems take centre stage. Then, you have to make the prospect the hero of the story. Ensure that it’s a story they’ll listen to and understand – in just a few seconds.

How to make your prospect the hero of the story

Here are three key elements of a story that can motivate a prospective client to say: “I’m interested, tell me more.” [tweet this]

  1. Your client is the hero (not you) and they have a problem. You need to identify the client’s need and what is standing in the way (the obstacle). This identifies the problem. The human brain is designed to survive. So, whatever you’re pitching, it has to meet a survival need. The client may have many problems. Focus on just one, like saving and investing for retirement, for example. That keeps the story short and easy to understand.
  2. You have a plan to help them: You’re not the hero of the story. You are the guide. You are the Yoda to their Luke Skywalker, the Gandalf to their Bilbo Baggins. And the hero needs you to save the day. In a wealth protection story, many Canadians pay far more in taxes than they could have with the proper planning. In a retirement savings story, without the right advice, many people must work longer than they want. Or they don’t have the money they need for retirement.

    You have a plan. With your great team, you can overcome the problem and meet the client’s needs. You don’t have to describe a specific plan in an elevator pitch. You just have to let them know that you have one.

  3. The plan is successful. Your client achieves her goal. End your story by highlighting what success looks like. With a plan in place, you’ve helped many clients retire on time and live the lifestyle they want.

Building your story

Let’s use the example of the neighbour at the wedding who is looking for help in saving and investing for retirement. Here’s how an elevator pitch might sound [tweet this]:

Without a proper retirement plan, many Canadians are falling short of their goals. They’re forced to retire later or retire without the money they need. I’ve helped many clients get back on track. They’ve retired on time and with the wealth they needed to live the life they’d always wanted.

The story puts the client and her need front and centre. But it also establishes you as an empathetic guide. You understand the problem and have a process to overcome it. If your elevator pitch is successful, your prospective client will lean in and ask you more.

Tell a great story – reap the rewards

A great elevator pitch brings your prospective client into your story. The tale of what you do should be about them, not you. A good pitch can lead to follow-up questions, meetings and eventually a client relationship. It’s no longer a story, but a real-life event.

So, be prepared for your next unexpected opportunity. Build a connection with a potential prospect – like at a wedding right before the band plays. Take a little bit of time to work on your pitch today. That can make a world of difference to your future success.


1 You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish by Kevin McSpadden. Published May 14, 2019.