The 17-Second Challenge

Ok, welcome to week 2 of my Perception IS Reality blog. Thanks for all the great feedback last week. This week’s challenge is going to make you squirm a little. It always does. I do this with executives and salespeople all the time. They don’t enjoy it but, in time, tell me how much it makes them reflect and change. I hope it does the same for you.

So, you ask—why the 17-second challenge? What does that mean? Glad you asked. First, I am tired of the term “elevator speech,” and second 17 seconds is about all the time you have to communicate something to another person before they lose interest.

So here is the assignment. You have 17 seconds to make your point. By the way, you should time yourself when doing this, which you should do right after reading this post. That way, you’ll do it without preparing something and as if you had to do it on the spot—otherwise 17 seconds is too much time. Please act quickly because this message will self-destruct (just kidding…needed to be sure you were still engaged).

So, without using the words—price, service or quality—you have 17 seconds to tell me why I should buy from your organization versus the countless other choices? What is it about your company that is unique? What is your DSF (Differentiating Sales Factor)? For goodness sake, would you buy from you? So, as of right this moment, think through this question and develop your response. You have 17 seconds.

Can you do it? Remember: Do not mention the typical price, service and quality “buzz words.” Why? Let me let you in on a little secret—those three words are not simply desired by buyers—they are EXPECTED! If you’re interested, I cover all of this in more detail in my book, available at

Ryan T. Sauers is president of Sauers Consulting Strategies. The firm consults with the front end of privately held printing and related organizations across North America. The areas of focus are: sales growth, brand positioning, organizational strategy, and integrated marketing (with an emphasis on social media). Sauers speaks at many national events and writes feature articles in global publications. He is an adjunct university professor teaching leadership and entrepreneurship. Sauers is also the author of the best-selling book "Everyone is in Sales" and the newest book "Would You Buy from You?" Please visit:
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  • Jim Makina

    How about an example?

  • Ryan T. Sauers

    Ok, one other thing that may help. :-) Short video to provide ideas…

  • Jeff Kreuer

    Let me take a shot at this …

    AS A PRINTER: We offer solutions that provide publishers the opportunity significantly reduce (or eliminate) the need to give advertisers credits due to poor ad reproduction.

    AS A PUBLISHER: We offer our print advertisers addl. multi-media opportunities that help to increase brand-awareness and improve the effectiveness of their advertising spend – with an end goal of increased foot traffic in your retail establishment.

  • JimIntihar

    Ok Ryan on this topic we have more agreement :-)

    For my 17 seconds, I would say something like "we are marketing integrators; whatever your need is from print to direct mail to Internet visibility, we will first perform an audit, then provide you with an action plan to maximize your budget.

    I think you do tailor your 17 seconds to the particular perspective client your speaking with.


    Jim Intihar

  • Tom Gimer

    However you communicate with your audience, we can help you do it better. So when you need something designed, printed, written or coded, call us. We sell professional graphic design, printing, web, marketing, mailing & business support services.