The Right Way To Respond When Someone Asks ‘What Do You Do?’
If you’re like a lot of financial services professionals, you probably struggle at times when someone asks you the question ‘What do you do?’
Too many professionals are caught off guard by this simple question. They often end up talking about themselves and the position they hold, and fail to gain the attention they want.
There are actually four ways to talk about what you do.
I call this verbal packaging of your expertise.
If you want to be successful in generating high-quality leads and opportunities, then you need to be able to gain someone’s attention quickly. Verbal packaging is not something you can leave to chance, or just try to ‘wing it’.
Top professionals understand that strong verbal packaging opens doors very quickly. The time and effort required to develop skills in this area are well worth the result. Let’s look at how you can answer the question ‘What do you do?’
Four ways to talk about what you do
1. Your job title.
You say, ‘I’m an insurance broker’, or ‘I’m a financial planner’, or ‘I’m a mortgage broker’.
This is how the majority of professionals introduce themselves. It’s a weak answer, because what you mean and understand by your job title is not necessarily how your listener understands it. When you say, ‘I’m a mortgage broker’, the other person’s mental response might be, ‘I don’t trust brokers’.
In this instance your message has failed to get the attention you want.
2. Your process.
You talk about what you do.
Many professionals spend a lot of time answering the question in this way. This is not a very effective answer, either.
For example, an insurance broker says, ‘We have access to every insurance company in the market and we are able to obtain the best policy wordings’. It tends to be boring unless listeners can create a direct link between the process and the benefit they might receive from it. The response is ‘What do I get as a result of all that?’ You should leave it out.
In this case, you are asking people to do a lot of work and most people won’t make that link.
3. Your unique selling proposition (USP).
You answer the question by explaining what makes your firm different from others.
This is much better and, in many situations, can be quite effective. You are now talking about a benefit for the listener. Here is a formula, with some examples:
I help (assist or work with) ______________ (target market) to ________ (your solution)
* ‘We help manufacturers to manage their product risk better’
* ‘I work with family owned businesses to find financing solutions’
* ‘We assist property investors to find the right type of investor loans’
This is as far as most professionals get with their verbal packaging.
However, there is one more way to talk about what you do, and it’s much more powerful than talking only about your unique selling proposition.
4. Your client’s problem.
The previous three answers covered your job title, your process, and your unique selling proposition. But prospective clients are less interested in you and your business, and more interested in themselves and their concerns.
The purpose of your unique selling proposition is to solve their problems. You can take any one of the previous statements and turn it around, so as to focus on their problems.
Here is the formula:
I help (work with or assist) ______________ (target market) who are struggling with ______ (name their problem)
- ‘We work with manufacturers who are struggling to manage their product liability risk.’
- ‘I work with family-owned businesses that are finding it difficult to manage their finances.’
- ‘We assist property investors who are having problems finding the right type of investor loan.’
The target market is the same, but now you are talking about their problems instead of your solution. This tends to work better because that’s where your clients’ minds are. You are also making it easy for them to make the link between what you do and what they are looking for.
Verbal packaging is a very powerful and important tool that will help you open doors, generate leads and build a quality sales pipeline. I recommend developing several verbal packages for the various solutions you offer.
If you master verbal packaging you’ll never again be caught off guard, or lost for words, when someone ask you the question ‘What do you do?’