Do you need to learn an elevator speech? I suggest that you do even if you are comfortable describing your value.

An elevator speech is a quick way to explain to someone the unique benefit you deliver to your clients. It can be a handy device to know, even if you have been in practice a long time. When I ask most advisors "what do you do?" I frequently get a rambling, somewhat fuzzy description of the practice that could apply to most advisors. An effective elevator speech is succinct and highlights the difference from other advisors. But that's only part of the reason for learning one.

The most important reason for learning an elevator speech is because it is an integral part of getting your clients to refer you.

Referral marketing is, in large part, preparing your clients for the opportunity to refer. Preparation requires practice. Of course, it is unlikely you could persuade most of your clients to participate in an exercise like "repeat after me: people like you come to my advisor because…" So we need a better way to teach them what to say.

You also want to make sure that the way you are describing your unique value resonates with your ideal clients. You can accomplish both by involving clients in creating the speech. Here's how:

Write down how you would describe your practice. Try saying it out loud. Does it sound natural? Is it accurate? Does it describe what makes you different from other advisors? Limit it to 10 seconds.

Now, bring it to your clients. You might show it to them one at a time at the end of an appointment or you may make it an agenda item for your client advisory board. Let them know that you are working on finding the right words to describe what's unique about you and what is most valuable about what you do for clients and ask their guidance in refining it. Does it accurately describe what they believe is different about you? Or is there something else about your practice that they find most valuable? Does it resonate with them? Is it how they would describe you to someone else?

The first objective is to make sure that you are talking about the right thing. You might believe it is your whizbang investment process the people most care about when in reality what they really like is how you explained how Social Security, their pension, and their savings all come together to provide them retirement income. If you want to be attracting more clients like them you need to be talking about what they care about, not what you think they should be impressed about.

The next goal is to make sure that you are using the client's language. Advisors tend to talk like advisors and clients don't usually talk that way. Describe your value the way your client would describe your value and you will communicate more effectively with prospective clients.

Finally, by engaging their creativity you and your client will be working together to teach each other the best way to describe your practice. And if you want your clients to refer effectively, working together to find the right wording is great training.

Many advisors would benefit from learning how to describe the value they represent the way the client would describe it. Clients would be much better prepared to refer their advisor when the opportunity arises if they practiced the right language in advance. Engaging your clients to help you refine your elevator speech can be a great way to accomplish both.

Stephen Wershing, CFP® is President of The Client Driven Practice. He coaches financial advisors to be more effective and successful, and attract more clients and referrals, by developing more client-connected and client-driven practices.