As Jerry Seinfeld might ask, “What did they call these pitches before there were elevators?”
Sorry. Could not resist.
It’s not clear who came up with the phrase “elevator pitch.” Some people like the term, some don’t. Certainly, it’s a bit clichéd, but the other side of that coin is that it’s nearly universally understood.
An elevator pitch – a short, 30-second description summarizing what your company does well and why a prospect should work with you – is every bit as necessary as a business card or a working business phone number, but you’ve probably spent far less time on it. Bottom line: You need to be able to say who you are, what you do, what you are interested in doing and how you can be a resource to the listener. If you engage potential customers without an effective elevator pitch, they wonʹt know how you can help them.
Crafting the Pitch
- Clarify. Make sure it’s crystal clear, at least to you, what exactly you need your pitch to do. “Make a sale” is too vague. It’s pretty rare that a prospect pulls out a checkbook before the elevator door opens, figuratively speaking. Focus on the next logical step. Do you want the contact to simply ask more questions about your company? Ask for literature or your website address? Request a product sample or arrange for a sales call? Thinking about how your new business generally develops will help you decide how to best utilize those 30 seconds.
- Write down what you do well. Think about your best customers and how your best employees deliver your best services or products. Focus on problems you solve for customers – the itch that you scratch.
- Enlist help. Call a good client or other professional contact and ask for input. Don’t say you’re working on an elevator pitch, because they’ll think you’re nuts. Tell them you’re re-tooling some phrasing for new marketing material. As a bonus, you get to have a conversation with an A-list client, which should reinforce your value as a supplier.
- Write a first draft. Focus on being concise (30 seconds or less). Remember, brevity is the soul of wit. Try to use powerful, action-oriented words. We focus on placing skilled, experienced temporary workers with growing IT companies…or, In the current economic climate, we’re having a lot of success helping mid-sized companies with …
- Edit, edit, and edit some more. Your first draft is probably too long. Time yourself. It’s likely twice as long as it needs to be. That’s not bad news. The “extra” information is useful for follow-up questions and future conversations with the prospect.
- Practice. This can be tricky. When asked about what your company does, you want to sound natural, rather than rehearsed and robotic. Concentrate on a few key words or phrases. Check YouTube.com for examples of effective, natural sounding elevator pitches.
Put it to Work
Test your pitch during social situations, where the stakes are very low. When asked, “What do you do, Bill?” at a church function, roll-out the latest version of your pitch. If you’ve managed to hold the person’s attention beyond what would be considered acceptably polite, you’re making progress.
When you’re comfortable, you can tweak your pitch to different audiences and for different circumstances. You might present your business differently in the context of a trade show, where you’re likely to be surrounded by people familiar with your company and its competitors, than you would during a chance meeting with a prospect at a restaurant, the gym, or other non-work situation.
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Call MP Star Financial for more information at (800) 833-3765, extension 150.