Doug Robinson Asks: “What Do You Do?”

Doug Robinson

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

As you make the daily rounds in your profession I’m sure you are used to hearing this question regularly. 

You really ought to think about how you should respond, knowing that you will only have a very narrow time window to highlight your business to others. To prepare for these encounters you need to develop a one sentence answer that is atypical of the way most folks in your business would respond. By doing so you are more likely to capture the attention of the inquirer. 

For instance, if you asked that question to somebody in my line of work, a typical reply would be, “I do training.”

That response is not unique nor will it trigger a second question. Try saying something that emphasizes your competitive edge by incorporating that into a one-sentence advertisement. In order to help you formulate your own version of this, consider starting with this template:

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

As a sales trainer I might couch my commercial like this: “I help salespeople improve their face-to-face communication skills, so they can avoid the negative stigma that many in the sales field are branded with.”  

Once you’ve crafted yours, not only should you respond with it, but it would also be smart to teach it to those customers who are willing to refer and introduce you to others. Simply tell them, “When I talk about my business I say this…” and then teach your commercial to them.

Just make sure to keep it simple and pithy, unlike the guy who was asked what time it was, and responded by telling the fellow how to build a watch. 

Just for grins and giggles, while I’m dispensing tips, here’s another one relating to business cards usage. If reps and managers would just stop and think how inexpensive business cards are, they would use them more often. For years, I’ve used what I call “the 3-card technique”, meaning that you should always give each inquirer 3 cards, not just one. 

As you hand the cards to folks, the key is to give the following instructions without catching a breath: “One of these cards is for you; please keep it. It’s very important that you give the remaining cards to two other serious people, along with a short introduction of me and what I might be able to do for them. In your business it should continually be raining business cards throughout your marketplace. If you don’t weary in well doing you will eventually be contacted by some of these card recipients. What’s not to like?

My book, Sell is NOT a Four Letter Word, is loaded with additional communication tips. Take a detour over to and get a free “peek under the tent” of what the book is all about. While you’re there, sign up for my free newsletter (blog). It will be delivered to your email inbox in time to accompany your morning coffee.

Before you go, share your thoughts, in the comments area below, on how you use business cards in your world, as well as your take about one-sentence advertisements.