As you make the daily rounds in your profession I’m sure you are used to hearing the question of “what do you do” on a regular basis.

Virtually every time you hear this question the person asking really doesn’t care about your answer. Whether you realize it or not they’re really asking, “Who are you, and why should I care?” Frankly whether you’re an engineer, plumber or an aspiring musician doesn’t matter to them.

However you answer the “What do you do?” question, you automatically put yourself in small box. Make sure it’s one you will be happy living in.

What people really want to know is, “How could you help me?” Remember the example I’ve provided to readers before: ‘Every year there are millions of drills sold, but no one wants a quarter-inch drill, what they want is a quarter-inch hole.’

————A New DIY Client Sounds Off!————

“Doug, for the last several months we’ve been reading your articles out loud in our sales room. I seem to have plenty of sales knowledge and communication skills but can’t seem to come up with story lines for certain circumstances. YOU FILL THAT GAP, and then some. So I decided to order copies of your book for everybody along with a Leader Guide for me.” Tal Donley – Orkin Sales Manager, Tulsa, OK.


So the idea is to respond differently than everyone else in order to give the other person a compelling reason to want to talk specifically to you. In my coaching practice today I have a couple of clients who use me as a result of having heard that I practice a unique approach when training salespeople on face-to-face communication skills. Somebody repeated to somebody else that I help salespeople to NOT be and sound annoying. They sought me out and after interviewing them, I determined I could help.

You really ought to think about how you should respond, knowing that there will only be a very narrow time window to highlight your specialty during short conversations. I suggest you prepare for these encounters by constructing a one sentence job description that is different than others in your profession. This is the best way to capture the attention of the inquirer and make an impression they will remember.

If you asked that question to somebody in my line of work, a typical reply would be, “I conduct sales training.” The problem is that a bland response like that is not unique or memorable. One really ought to say something that emphasizes their competitive edge, packaged into a one-sentence advertisement.

To help to construct your own personal description and ad, consider the following template:

“I help (name a group of people) do (some amazing thing) without (the negative drawback they normally experience).”

As a blue collar sales coach I would respond with; “I help salespeople communicate with prospects and customers in ways that keep them from sounding like typically annoying salespeople.”

Once you’ve got it, not only should you lead with it, but it would also be wise to teach it to those who become customers and are willing to refer, recommend and introduce you to others. Consider prepping them for this mission by simply telling them, “When I talk about my business I say this…” and then share your one-sentence job description/advertisement with them. Practice makes better before talking to their friends and neighbors!


Just make sure to keep your message simple and pithy, unlike the guy who was asked what time it was and replied with how to build a watch.

Just for grins and giggles, here’s another tip when making initial contact. It pertains to business cards and I call it the three-card technique. Give every person you speak with 3 of your business cards, not just 1.

Ask them to keep one and to promise not to throw the other two away, but rather give them to two different friends. Your cards are inexpensive, so make it rain business cards around your marketplace. Eventually you will get calls as a result of this cheap, yet effective advertising and message.



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