President’s Message – August 2022

By Michael Pearsall, P.Eng., CVS, FEC – President, SAVE International

What is Your “Elevator Speech”?

The past few months I have been fortunately presented with a number of good opportunities to promote the Value Methodology (VM) to some new groups. While I always welcome the opportunity to “spread the word” about the VM, far too often these opportunities come with substantial time constraints.

Of course, looking at this from a positive perspective has given me cause to think deeply about how I can improve my “Elevator Speech.” Just so we are all on the same page, I want to pause here and quote from our friends at Wikipedia: “An elevator pitch, elevator speech, or elevator statement is a short description of an idea, product, or company that explains the concept in a way such that any listener can understand it in a short period of time.” This short period of time is often equated to a journey in an elevator.

Like most value practitioners, I often say I have 5-minute, 30-minute, 1-hour, 1-day and 1-week versions of training available. Plus, of course, various custom combinations in-between to fit specific needs. Historically, most requests have been for either my 1-hour “Lunch ‘n Learn” or the 1-day “Value Analysis in Action” course a group of us in Ontario developed a few years ago. Lately, I have found more call for my 5-minute, or less, “Elevator Speech”.

At the SAVE International 2022 Value Summit in June, I challenged a number of people I spoke with to think hard about their “Elevator Speech”, and I have continued that discussion with a few practitioners since then. This is likely one of the most important marketing tools we can all exercise to help share and grow the industry. However, it is also sometimes our biggest detractor, as you might say the wrong thing in haste and quickly lose the interest of the listener.

Think about it…if you had less then 5-minutes to tell a potential client or executive leader about VM, what would you say?

Of course, this may depend on the listener and their context. The reality is you likely need a few different versions at hand.

For years, I found myself leading with monetary savings. This is very tempting, particularly when trying to convince an executive to fund your study. However, I found that this largely resulted in the listener jumping to categorize my pitch as the evil “cost-cutting.” This is not what we want listeners to think SAVE is about – we want to promote “value improvement,” which is not always easy to frame quickly for some audiences. Ideally, you want to frame this in a way that will capture their interest and get them to give you more time for more details.

Lately, I have had much more success leading with constructability, risk reduction or innovation depending on the situation and listener. If I have to lead with something monetary, I try to frame it with return on investment (ROI) and capture these other great benefits in that. Other things I want to capture of course are that it is a structured facilitated process, uses a multi-disciplinary team, helps solve problems and increases buy-in. You may have other points you wish to include for your industry or audience.

The important thing is that this takes planning, preparation, and practice. Am I happy with my current pitch? No, I still have room for improvement, however I keep practicing.

Where can you start? I always tell people that the “About” tab on the SAVE website is always a good place to go in a pinch. I keep the site bookmarked at the top of my browser and it can come in handy if you are sitting at your computer. The two “Knowledge Nuggets” videos on the SAVE website are also good starting points.

Speaking of videos, recently my friends at Washington State DOT shared with me a great short YouTube video they use for new study members. I found this quite useful to share with another organization embarking on their first study. Kudos to WashDOT for their efforts and willingness to share. I really appreciate the effort SAVE-member and frequent volunteer Tomi Hume, CVS put in to share the file across our different government computer systems.

As a final thought, I want to give a congratulatory shout out to Value Analysis Canada for their free “Value Voices” webinar series. In July, I attended a great session by SAVE-member Anna Bremmer, CVS, LEED AP on differentiating construction process functions from project functions. Not only was this a quality presentation, well worth an hour or so of my time, I was also impressed with the number of international practitioners linking in from around the globe. Past sessions have been equal in quality plus interesting and informative. I know that globally others are doing similar on-line events and encourage our chapters and affiliates to continue these activities. If you have a chance, sign up to attend one.

It is summer here, so I encourage everyone in this part of the world to get some time off with friends and family if you can.

Enjoy Summer!