How to update your client in 30 seconds or less

Maxim #29
Always be prepared for the elevator test

maxim_29“The Elevator Test” refers to when your top customer (or boss or board member) walks into an elevator that you are on and asks, “So, how is everything going?” You have approximately 30 seconds to say something meaningful that the person can take away with him or her, which is roughly the time of a typical TV advertisement or news feature.

Most of us get to spend little time with a top customer so every exchange is important. To have a meaningful exchange with that person you must be able to get your point across swiftly and succinctly. We use a basic 3-part agenda guide for all interactions with our customers (results, schedule, people). This is also useful for having an elevator pitch “ready”.

1. Results

  • What is a single clear-cut point you can make centered on a key result that is important to the customer?
  • To figure out your key point, ask yourself the following questions:
    • What would this person be interested in?
    • What do I want this person to remember?

2. Schedule

  • What is currently happening or being worked on with respect to the customer?

3. People

  • What is the interaction with the customer’s people

(This helps to personalize and “ground” answers that might otherwise be too technical.)

An example of a response we might use to the question suggested: “So, how is everything going?”

“The project is going very well. This past week the prototype in the processing area increased throughput over 45% (Results). In the next few weeks we will be working on expanding the prototypes into some of the feeder areas (Schedule). We are getting excellent input from your area managers and the employees are actively participating in the prototypes. They’re providing great input into layout design, as well as useful feedback on what works and what doesn’t in the actual process flow (People).”