A lot of attention has been placed around having a solid elevator pitch. Entrepreneurs especially are asked whether or not they have a well-crafted elevator pitch ready to share with people, and however you personally feel about the elevator pitch it is a great tool to have in your toolbox.
The idea of the elevator pitch comes from being able to pitch an idea in the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator. Now, we can use an elevator pitch anywhere, as long as the pitch itself is still short. It should take less than a minute, and your goal is really to engage the listener. You want the listener to ask you questions, and to be interested in what you have to say.
Here’s a quick look at some ground rules for crafting a solid elevator pitch. As I mentioned above, make sure your elevator pitch is short. A well-crafted elevator pitch is not any longer than four or five sentences. You want to have an opener, your pitch, and your closer.
Second you’ll want to remove any jargon or buzzwords from your pitch. The moment you utter a buzzword, you’ve killed your listener’s attention. Phrases like synergy, dynamic, and game-changer can be great for a longer sales presentation, but can totally kill your pitch before you ever get started. And since only have a short amount of time to get your point across, stick with everyday vocabulary that is designed to create an impact and that sounds natural. You don’t want to sound like your company’s website, or like you just opened up a marketing manual.
Humor, on the other hand, is a great way to open. Or you can describe what you do in a unique way. My favorite example of this is “I help build PowerPoint muscles,” which I heard from Brian Walter (www.extrememeetings.com). This is a great way to talk about what you do that will definitely grab your listener’s attention. If I heard that, you would have my attention. Just because you were creative enough to come up with a clever way of describing what you do. It is easy to make someone curious, and that is the first step towards getting new business.
After you’ve grabbed their attention, it’s time to follow through with more details. This is where a statistic, fact, or a success that you can put a number to will have a huge impact. If we follow the PowerPoint example from above you can say something like, “I teach people how to close business deals with PowerPoint. My clients usually see a 60% improvement in their closed sales deals after I work with them.”
Your goal is to hint at the details to keep the listener asking questions. You want to speak plainly and clearly, but you want them to be engaged and asking more questions. If they ask you “what do you mean by…?” or “does that mean that…?” you are on the right track. And that is where you move in for the final step.
The third and final step is to close with asking if they have more time, and if not, when you can follow up with them to share more information. If you are in a position to chat more ask if they can grab a coffee with you, or if you can walk with them for a little bit. If you are out at an event, or if they are on their way to a meeting, ask for a business card and a time to call them. You should always try to call them instead of sending an email, and as soon as possible. You don’t want the impact of your conversation to fade away before you have a chance to follow up with them.
This is the ultimate purpose of an elevator pitch. To get more time to really sit down and speak with your listener. You want to turn these chance encounters into meetings. Whether you are trying to move your product, looking for investors, or simply trying to expand your network. Creating a powerful first impression will put you on a short list of people who stand out in a crowd, and you’re more likely to be remembered long after the event is over.
In closing, remember that luck is simply when opportunity meets preparedness.