Business: “Elevator Pitch” by Alan Goswell

We’ve all been there, bumping into someone quite randomly and realising that they could be a really good business opportunity. The problem is, it often happens in a bar, in a queue, checking out of a hotel.  How many times have you stumbled an introduction and before you know it, the opportunity is walking away.

The concept of an ‘elevator pitch’ is that you can succinctly in 30 seconds or so,  make an impactful introduction and not lose the opportunity.  It’s called an elevator pitch based on the scenario of getting into an elevator and needing to ‘sell yourself’ before the other person gets off the elevator 30 seconds later!

It sounds easy but actually isn’t. So before we get into what makes up a good elevator pitch, be aware that the best pitch deliveries are rehearsed and practiced over and over again.  It’s no use working on developing your pitch if you forget it at the crucial moment.

So what makes a good elevator pitch? The first focus should be from the other person’s point of view. What could you say that would (for example) get them to say “that’s great, here’s my business card, call me and we’ll talk more”. Most people start by saying “Hi, my name is so and so and I work for xyz company. We’re the largest producer of xyz products in the world with clients such as [impressive brand name] and we make abc product or service”.  So what?  You’ve just wasted nearly half your time with information that although you may be proud of, really doesn’t speak to the other person’s needs.  So, an elevator pitch isn’t a commercial.  Be honest, do you switch off during the ad-breaks on TV? Well guess what, the other person does as well, they’re practiced at it and can do it without thinking.  You may get a congenial smile as they walk away, but that’s about all!

We’ve established that a good elevator pitch needs to engage the other person. It needs to be conversational and not full of the sort of words you’d find on a ‘business bulls**t bingo’ sheet. You need to get them interested.

STRUCTURE

So, how to structure a  good elevator pitch.  There are a number of great examples all over the internet, but I’m going to focus on 2 that have stayed with me.

Nº 1 WOW HOW NOW

Brian Walter (www.extrememeetings.com) has developed a WOW-HOW-NOW approach to elevator pitches.

1 – WOW. If you start with a simple statement that the other person simply can’t fail to be intrigued by, you’ll have cleared hurdle nº 1, that of engagement.

2 – HOW. Even if they’re not verbalising it, they’re asking you what you mean by that intriguing statement, and that’s your opportunity to answer it.

3 – NOW. State what you do followed by a sentence starting with the word ‘now’. Give a real world example of what you’re doing right now with another client to demonstrate there’s real world value in what you do.

Example

Other:    So what do you do then?

Me:    Eye surgery for small businesses

Other:    (unspoken) eh?

Me:    Most small business owners are great at what they do, but lack essential marketing and sales skills. That’s where I come in. It’s like giving them a 3rd eye in looking at their business, Now for example, I’m working with a local real estate company on their marketing materials which not only increases quantity of properties in their portfolio, but also the quality of how they present that portfolio to prospective buyers which is already having the effect of increasing their viewing to sales conversion rate.

Nº 2 – THE PAIN SOLVING PITCH

This is loosely based on the SPIN selling strategy, where you go through the Situation, Problems, Implications and Needs to sell your product.  That process can take up to an hour, we’ve got less than a minute. But, we’re talking about ourselves so we can dive straight in.

Example

Other:    So what do you do?

Me:    Well, I’m sure you’d agree that most small business owners are great at what they do, but lack necessary sales and marketing skills…

Other:    Probably nodding in agreement (great, he’s agreeing with you, gains trust)

Me..    They simply can’t commercialise their great idea, and that ultimately leads to lack of sales, which leads to having no cash which means bankruptcy.  What I do is give small businesses owners that sales and marketing input. It’s kind of like a 3rd eye in the business which means they can commercialise their great idea, and build a sustainable and profitable business.

SUMMING UP

Delivering an elevator pitch is an essential skill, but a complete waste if you don’t ‘close’.  A ‘close’ would be where you interest the other person enough to get something from them, usually a business card or a phone number so you can follow up.  You may get lucky and even be able to book a diary appointment, or even better the chance to discuss your wares over a coffee.  The point is, an elevator pitch is an ‘opener’, followed by a quick close!

One final thought: your pitch is likely to vary depending on who you meet and the circumstances in which you meet.  So consider the likely scenarios and develop and practice various pitches.

Alan Goswell

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