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Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


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The right way to answer the question, ‘what do you do?’


How do you answer the question – “what do you do?”

If you attend an event where you are meeting strangers, you will be asked the question – ‘so what do you do?’. At this point do you say state the features of the service you provide?…e.g. I am an accountant. Or do you state the benefits of the service you provide?

E.g. I help my clients pay the legal minimum amount of tax, not a penny more, not a penny less.

So, which is it? You need to state the benefits of the service you provide, in one short ‘sound bite’ or tag line. E.g.

“I help professional advisors achieve better results for less effort” OR

“I help professional advisors generate more profitable revenue for the same amount of time”

By talking about the value you bring to your clients early in the conversation, you are emphasising the benefits of your service rather than the features. After all, every salesperson will tell you that people buy benefits not features.

When I train people to use an opening sound bite describing the value they bring to their clients, many people worry that the other person wouldn’t know what they do. I can see that this is a genuine concern, however, in my experience, whenever this type of opening is used, the next question is ‘oh, that sounds interesting, how do you do that?’. And then you are off, the conversation is started, and you have moved straight into a business conversation.

So, what would your opening sound bite be?

Heather Townsend is the driving force behind The Efficiency Coach and a co-founder of 'the executive village'
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One Response

  1. Demonstrating added value

    Hi Heather

    Interesting article – I guess the challenge is how to get that soundbite succinct enough to grab and maintain interest. Certainly a more intriguing ‘opener’ than "I’m a Trainer", which makes you sound rather like half a pair of sports shoes…

    Ironically enough I received a ‘cold-call’ letter this morning from someone trying to hawk their Retail Sales programme. I quickly scanned through it to see if there was any relevance in following it up, and saw the obligatory list of well-known clients. They then used the example of a training programme the company had provided to a well-known automotive parts retailer, with a paragraph on the fact they have immediately been rebooked to train the remaining team, are currently shooting a video ‘to embed their learning’ and that their blog is ‘buzzing’. Throughout the letter they spoke several times about delivering results, but not once did they back this up with a figure, % or £.

    For me, all this says is that the training was interesting, fun and thought provoking and therefore likely to be recommended. Did it actually deliver ROI? No idea. Am I going to follow this up with a meeting to find out more? No. If they had a soundbite at the beginning that said, say "We delivered a 30% sales uplift for X compnay. We’d love the opportunity to talk to you about how we can bring this to you", I would have read in more detail and maybe considered meeting them.

    My point is this – if you make claims about adding value, be prepared to back it up immediately with some quantative information. It simply makes it more believable and sets you apart form the competition – every training company will claim to add value (after all, that’s ultimately the point of training) but not all will back it up with data.



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Heather Townsend


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