Take the time to prepare your elevator pitch. Practice it. Keep it current. If you do, you will increase your business.
Of the many tools in your business development toolbox, being able to quickly and effectively communicate what your business does can mean the difference between gaining a new client or just a friendly greeting in the hallway. Social media and other forms of communicating are wonderful, but there is one time-honored method which I believe surpasses them all, still to this day.
You need an elevator pitch, loaded and ready to go. What is it? The name comes from the idea that if you greet someone on the elevator and they ask, “So, what do you do?” you only have a minute or less to tell them before they get off the elevator. It’s much more difficult than it sounds. If you are the kind of person that can quickly think on your feet, you might pull something wonderful out of your hat, but then again you might not. If, however, you’re the kind of person that freezes up when asked a question knowing you have only seconds to answer, then you definitely need to prepare.
A Good Elevator Pitch
The primary attributes of a good elevator pitch are:
1. PURPOSE. It isn’t intended to make the sale, only to get another meeting. With a properly prepared and well thought-out pitch, you are aiming for them to say, “Give me a call later. I’d like to hear more.” So don’t worry about putting the full story into your pitch, that will come later. You just want to get them interested enough to want to know more.
2. METHOD. It should be memorized. This is non-negotiable. You are the best marketing tool you have. You should be able, on a moment’s notice, to recall the pitch while you’re standing in the elevator, waiting in line for coffee at Starbucks, or sharing the same personal space on a crowded commuter train. It will take some practice, but it’s worth it, especially when they agree to meet you later. You also should have effortless command of the pitch, so it comes out smooth and natural, which will make you more believable instilling confidence in them that you know what you’re talking about. They will see you as an expert.
3. LENGTH. It should only be three or four sentences long. Stay away from too much detail. Keep it high-level. Feel free to use favorite phrases, ordinary meanings, or even industry slang as this can often communicate reasonably complex ideas very quickly. Consider word pictures like “low hanging fruit,” or “long pole in the tent,” or other similar phrases. Your industry will have its common phrases. Use them if it fits your purpose and keeps things brief.
4. CONTENT. State the name of the firm and type of products or services you offer. Briefly explain the value proposition of the firm. It should have a hook or a “so what”– something that begs questions from the hearer, or causes them to want to know more, or causes them to raise their eyebrows because they are impressed. Your hook is usually something that is unique to your firm that sets you apart, like recent industry awards or other recognition, an impressive milestone reached, or something your product or service does that no one else offers. You could also mention a recent endorsement or impressive results achieved by a current client. By the way, this is not the time to be too modest. Toot your horn a little. When you get the follow-up meeting, then you can be graciously modest.
5. OPTIONS. You should have several different pitches, one for each business unit of your company. If you know your recipient has a specific interest, use the most pertinent pitch. If you do not, then use the more general pitch.
6. DYNAMIC. Your elevator pitch should always be evolving. Your story should change with trends in the market or customer base. Keep it current, modern, and progressive. Adopt popular phrases when useful. When you get good at this, you’ll even change the pitch based on the person you are addressing and how you perceive them. At this point, it becomes an art form with you as the performing artist!!
7. CONTACT. When possible, you should be handing the listener your business card or contact details as you are speaking. This also needs to be a smooth, natural movement.
As I said before, you are your most effective marketing and business development tool. Take the time to prepare your elevator pitch. Practice it. Keep it current. If you do, you will increase your business.
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