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When customers evangelize you to colleagues and friends, what they say is as important as the passion behind it.

To make it easy for customers to describe what you do, they must easily understand the “idea” of your company. If people quickly grasp the idea and benefits of your business, it's considered to be infectious.

It is, as author Seth Godin says, an “ideavirus.” Just like a biological virus, an ideavirus can spread very quickly from person to person.

It's a concept also known as the “elevator pitch,” or what you would say to a stranger about your value proposition (or someone else's) during the time it takes to ride in an elevator, roughly equal to the attention span of most prospective customers.

To create effective customer evangelists, your customers must know your elevator pitch as well as, if not better than, you.

How smooth is your company's pitch? Do people nod knowingly as you describe your company's products or services, or do they look puzzled and quickly excuse themselves?

ABC Technology Services (not their real name) asked for our help in landing new clients. Company executives described themselves this way: “ABC delivers network and systems management solutions that assist companies in cost-effectively maximizing the performance and availability of their network infrastructures.”

It was an eye-glazing description. Here's how tuning their pitch changed the game.

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Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba are the authors of Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force.