How do I develop a powerful 30-second commercial?

How do I develop a powerful 30-second commercial?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

How do I develop a powerful 30-second commercial?

Often referred to as an elevator speech, or a cocktail commercial, I named it a 30-second personal commercial because I felt you would understand it based on all the personal commercials you’ve seen on television. Some of which grab your attention, most of which make you grab the remote.

The key to a 30-second commercial is the word “engagement.” Can you engage the other person in a way that they will be interested in conversing with you? When the 30 seconds is up, you’ll pretty much know whether they’re engaged or not by the way they respond.

After you deliver your message, your job is to begin questioning to find something that you have in common with the other person (home town, college, kids, sports teams, computers). If you’ve engaged well with your personal commercial, and you’ve found something in common, then it’s likely you can gain an appointment, and potentially a customer.

Personally, I like to ask questions first, and give my commercial second. I like to know about the other person before I tell them about me. But I’m VERY experienced at engaging.

Here are some strategies and examples of personal commercial engagement:

THE “GIVE FIRST” COMMERCIAL: A five-second question that will completely engage the other person without you ever saying one word about yourself. Exchange names, and then say the following: “Bill, I meet a lot of people, and one of the best ways for me to get to know them, and for them to know me, is to ask `What’s the perfect customer for you?’ And after you’re done, I’ll search my mental database and see if I know anyone that might be a good prospect for you.”

THE “WHAT DO YOU DO?” COMMERCIAL: This question has been asked of me (and you) thousands of times. Someone is ASKING for your 30-second commercial. I take my coin business card, hand it to the person and say, “I’m the best sales trainer in the world.” People are forced to look at the coin. Most have never seen a coin card. We may chat about it for a minute. Then I ask, “How many of your salespeople didn’t make their sales-goal last year?” And we’re off to the races — fully engaged.

UNFAIR ADVANTAGE: If I’m going to a trade show or a networking event, I’ll take a dozen books with me and sign them to some of the people I meet. For the cost of a book, I’ve created a whole different level of engagement.

THE FUNNY COMMERCIAL: When someone asks me what I do, I say, “I help large companies with their sales training budgets, until there’s none left.”

THE FUNNIER COMMERCIAL: I was sitting next to my photographer, Mitchell Kearney. We were giving 30-second commercials to our networking group. Mitchell had one of my books in his hand opened to a photo of me that he had taken. Suddenly (without warning), he grabs me by the shirt, yanks me out of my chair and yells, “Ya see this guy?” Then, pointing to my photo in the book, yells, “I made him look like this!” The crowd roared, and Mitch made sales that morning. A ten-word commercial. Maybe the best one ever.

THE “CREATING A DEFICIT” COMMERCIAL: (You sell life insurance and financial plans) Begin by asking two questions: “Bill, how much money do you think you’ll need to retire?” (You wait for an exact answer.) “And how much of that do you have right now?” (And you wait for an exact answer.) And then say, “My job is to get you from where you are, to where you want to be. And I don’t know if I can help you or not, but if you’ll bring me some of your pertinent data to a short breakfast at our mutual convenience, I’ll take a look at it. If I think I can help you, I’ll tell you. And if I don’t think I can help you, I’ll tell you that too. Is that fair enough?”

Important note: No matter what type of commercial you give, make certain that the other person knows what you do when you’re done. Being vague makes everyone think you’re in some form of multi-level marketing scheme. Whatever it is that you tell people, be proud of it. And be enthusiastic about it.

If there’s a secret to a 30-second commercial, it is: keep it to 30 seconds.

If you’d like some ideas about how to ask better engagement questions, go to, register if you’re a first time visitor, and enter SMART QUESTIONS in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and The Little Red Book of Selling. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached at 704-333-1112 or e-mail to

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