SELLING SAFETY- What Do You Do?

Floor’em with a great elevator speech.

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My wife and I had taken my daughter and grandkids to Disney World. One morning my daughter asked me if I would go down to the market and get chocolate milk for my granddaughter. I can never say no to anything involving grandchildren, so I proceeded to the elevator. As I entered the elevator, I said good morning to a gentleman on the elevator. He said the same and asked if I was enjoying myself. I said, absolutely! I also said it’s just great to have a break from work. Boom! That generated the question that I was’t prepared to answer, “What Do You Do?”, he said. I quickly responded with, “I get people home safely every day.”

We continued to talk as the elevator stopped at EVERY floor. I asked him the same question, and he said he was the Vice President of Operations for a manufacturing company. As we got off the elevator and went our separate ways, I began thinking about my answer. Was that an accurate answer? Did it really identify what I do? I didn’t think it did. So I spent the entire day thinking about my inability to describe what I do accurately.

MY APPROACH

That night, while everyone was asleep, and even though I was worn out, I spent the next three hours working to develop my “elevator speech.” I was determined to create something that engaged the receiver and adequately explained what I did and why. When done, I was going to find that gentleman and share it with him.

I should have done this years ago. It was actually a part of my leadership certification process, I just felt like I could make it up as I needed. Well, that thought process just bit me in the rear!

I wanted something that was no more than 15 seconds. Here is what I finally came up with.

“I am a safety professional dedicated to showing the value a strong, sustainable safety culture adds to an organization. I accomplish this by identifying risk, then developing programs to reduce or eliminate those risk by influencing the buy-in from people who perform the tasks and all the way up to the board. I have a strong passion for helping people make the right decisions so they can go home to their loved ones and do what they love to do, every single day.”

Denis Baker

I’ve used this statement several times since then and feel confident the receiver understands what it is I do and why.

However, a couple of days after we returned home, I began thinking I needed to make it shorter to accommodate those quick networking interactions.

One-Word Pitch

I began thinking what one word would adequately summarize my whole elevator speech?

Tough exercise. Here are some of the words I came up with.

  • Risk
  • Life
  • Love
  • Longevity
  • Influence
  • Culture
  • Behavior
  • Eliminator
  • Reducer
  • Lover

None of these got me excited. In fact, some were kinda weird.

I wads sitting on my balcony overlooking the lake and watching people learn to wakeboard and ski. Many attempts were made, and they would fall back into the water. From my vantage point, I could see where they were failing. I wanted to go out there and explain to them what they needed to do. As was watching, it hit me;

I’m a “behavioral-influencer”!

Denis Baker

Ok. Ok, I know it’s two words. But I felt like these two words, clearly describe what I do and why along with my passion.

One Sentence Pitch

Then I thought, how do I describe what I do and why in one sentence?

Well after MANY attempts and word manipulations, here it is:

“I am a safety professional committed to influencing behavior by showing the value of making the right decision all the time, every time.”

Denis Baker

Well, there you go. I have openly and with full transparency shared with you my;

  1. elevator speech
  2. one-word pitch
  3. one-liner pitch

I know there are other ways to word my speech and other ideas. I am always open (ok maybe not always) to suggestions and ideas. I am consistently looking for ways to enhance my information to make it more intriguing and engaging. I look at these networking opportunities to promote the safety profession, so I want something that is very effective.

YOUR APPROACH

To help you in creating your elevator speech, follow the 5 steps below. It will ensure you approach the process systematically and include everything you need.

  1. IDENTIFY YOUR PROFESSION
  2. EXPLAIN THE VALUE YOU OFFER
  3. IDENTIFY THE BENEFITS
  4. SHOW HOW DO YOU DO IT
  5. EXPLAIN WHY YOU DO IT

In developing your thoughts, consider the following:

  1. What is the intended message? Did you achieve it?
  2. Make sure you are clearly articulating your thoughts.
  3. Remember, you have to include why to justify what.
  4. Get feedback by both safety professionals and those outside the profession.
  5. Consider leaving some vagueness in the statement to generate additional conversation.

Following this process will help you develop the elevator pitch that is right for you. I don’t think a single pitch can be created for the profession because we are all individuals who have a different desire or approach to why we became a safety professional.

MY SECOND VISIT WITH THE GENTLEMAN

I’m sure you are thinking if I ran into the gentleman on the elevator again. Well, yes, I did. I saw him sitting at a table and approached him. I told him that I wanted to explain what I really do for a living. He stated that he understood what I meant and had several safety professionals under his leadership. I asked if any of them could adequately answer the question; “What Do You Do?” He looked at me with a wrinkled forehead and said, “I don’t think they could.” We discussed my passion for safety and improving the influence the profession has on company leadership and the employees. I asked if I could give my answer again and he agreed. I told him after thinking about what I said in the elevator, it drove me to develop my elevator pitch to ensure I could always have a compelling answer to the question. I shared my statement with him:

“I am a safety professional dedicated to showing the value a strong, sustainable safety culture adds to an organization. I accomplish this by identifying risk, then developing programs to reduce or eliminate those risk by influencing the buy-in from people who perform the tasks and all the way up to the board. I have a strong passion for helping people make the right decisions so they can go home to their loved ones and do what they love to do, every single day.”

Denis Baker

After I finished, he looked at me with a smile and said,

“that is one of the best descriptions of a safety professional I’ve ever heard.”

I was excited and smiled back!!

He finished our conversation by giving me his card and saying he wanted to talk more about my passion and how I could help his safety staff realize how important it is to know what it is one does and why. We have created a healthy relationship and have talked many times on safety issues and beyond.

CONCLUSION

Remember to sell safety; you have to know what you are selling and why. The elevator speech explains what you do and why. By integrating these two items you are increasing your ability to “sell safety.”

I truly encourage you to create your “elevator pitch” and to passionately share with anyone who asks the inevitable networking question, “What Do You Do?”

Denis is an experienced Safety Professional with multi-industry experience. He is also an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical principles and relevant influencing techniques to change employee behaviors and ultimately reduce and eliminate injuries.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a passionate desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

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