Your Elevator Pitch

An Elevator Pitch That WorksEP2

If you have a business, or work in sales, you need to be able to answer that question ‘what do you do?’ whether at formal events, social gatherings or even on a plane or train! You need an ‘elevator pitch’.

The elevator pitch is so named because the time you have to ‘hook’ someone relates to the time taken to move from one floor to the next in an elevator. It comes from when sales people would chat to someone in a lift and try to get their business card before they got out at the next floor.

The American ‘elevator’ has stuck following the transition to the UK because, somehow, ‘lift pitch’ just doesn’t sound right!!

There are two types of pitch. First, the informal elevator pitch that’s conversational and short – literally seconds. Then there is the longer, formal ‘intro-mercial’ which is more of a mini presentation.

The Informal Elevator Pitch

This is the Elevator Pitch that you give when meeting someone for the first time in an open networking situation. So how long do you actually have and how do you hook someone in this time?

Well, the time could actually vary between about 10 and 30 seconds, usually broken with responses from the person you’re talking to. During this time, the person you’re talking to is making a decision about whether to stop and chat to you, or whether to politely remove themselves and move on to someone else.

Of course, the ideal is that they stop and talk to you – quite easy to achieve because they want to tell you about their business so if you get in there first and ask about them, you’re at least likely to get into a conversation. If you spend some time talking about them, polite etiquette usually then demands that they give you the courtesy of hearing you out! However, when it’s your turn, I’m sure you would prefer that they listen enthusiastically, rather than just give you the polite and required time of day.

And what if they’re networking savvy and ask you the question ‘what do you do?’ first.

Either way, when you begin talking about your business, this is where you can make a huge difference to the response you get.

Remember that no-one is at all interested in a catalogue style list of all your products or services. This is boring and a complete turn off.

Let’s take an accountant for example.

Pitch 1

“I’m an accountant and I help people with their accounts, book keeping, tax returns and payroll.”

Boring! And unlikely to persuade anyone to actually use them, unless they happen to be new in business and not yet found an accountant. Most people in business either already have an accountant or have chosen to do their own accounts. They know pretty much what an accountant does and this pitch will leave them wanting to move on.

Pitch 2

“I prevent people from un-necessarily giving their money away to the government. A large number of business people pay too much tax and I work with business owners to set things up so that they keep as much of their hard-earned cash as they can. As a different type of accountant, I don’t just rubber stamp their own figures but I work as a business adviser to really help them set things up in the most tax-efficient manner possible.”

This time, just the first line would get someone listening, giving you permission to continue with the longer pitch – which is still only around 25 to 30 seconds.

This should lead you into the chatting stage where you can then talk about the benefits of the other services and how and where you can save them time and money.

Now you have a real chance of converting them to either using the services of an accountant if they don’t already or even considering changing if their existing accountant isn’t also providing that level of service.

Remember that it’s all about benefits – not features and certainly not a catalogue list! Revlon had this idea perfectly when they said “We don’t sell cosmetics, we sell hope”!

What is it that you can really do for your potential clients?

Start thinking about how you respond to the question ‘what do you do?’.

Next week, we will look at the formal ‘intromercial’.

Happy Networking!

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