Even if you’ve answered “yes” to the question, you can fine tune your pitch by applying the formula described in this article. If you don’t have a pitch or you’re unsure your pitch is effective, you’ll definitely want to read on to learn how to elevate your elevator pitch.
Someone at a business function has just asked you: “What do you do?” Do you have an elevator pitch to answer that question? I’m talking about a pitch you know cold — stone cold. A pitch you could recite enthusiastically if someone woke you up at 3:00 in the morning from a very deep sleep.
What’s your pitch? Say it out loud – right now! If you hesitated even a bit before making your pitch or if you said your pitch without confidence or enthusiasm, your pitch needs work.
Odds are your elevator pitch isn’t as effective as it could be. In fact, most elevator pitches are, shall we say, less than perfect, because most people don’t take the time to both craft a pitch and then practice it. Perfect practice makes perfect pitch.
What is an effective elevator pitch? An elevator pitch is just that – a pitch! It’s not an elevator speech. Nor is an elevator pitch the close to a sale. It is the first step and arguably the most important step in the process of qualifying and retaining a potential client or pursuing a job opportunity. If the person to whom you’re pitching responds with “that’s interesting” or “thank you” or “that’s nice,” your pitch hasn’t succeeded. The person to whom you’re pitching should respond with body language and words the equivalent of “I want to hear more!”
An effective pitch has three parts: (1) getting attention by posing a problem, (2) explaining how you solve the problem you just posed and the benefit of your solution, and (3) asking for permission to continue the conversation about how you can help. When responding, make sure you do it with enthusiasm. Personal development coach Jim Rohn said: “Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.” Read that quote again and let it sink in. Never underestimate the power of enthusiasm.
Here’s how I respond when I’m asked: “What do you do?”
Step 1: Getting attention by posing a problem:
ME: I’m happy you asked! Have you wondered how to consistently put a crowd in front of your trade show booth, communicate your company’s message more effectively and magnify your qualified leads and sales at the trade show and in the weeks that follow?
Whatever you do, don’t lead with a bland description: I’m a corporate lawyer. I’m a doctor. I’m in sales. I work in IT. Blah. Blah. Blah. It’s the equivalent of inviting a big yawn or asking someone to push the snooze button. There are thousands of lawyers, doctors and sales and IT professionals. What makes you different?
Step 2: Explain how you solve the problem and invite involvement:
ME: I help companies explode their tradeshow return on investment by combining a carefully crafted script with an attention-getting presentation that entertains and excites. If I were able to do that for you, would you be interested?
I’ve purposely not explained the attention-getting excitement to invite the question: How would you get attention at my trade show booth to explode my ROI?
How do you invite a question?
Step 3: Asking for permission to continue the conversation.
Lets’ schedule 15 minutes, unless you have time now, so we talk about how I could help you magnify the return on your investment from your trade show booth.
My entire pitch can take less than a minute. But it gets me efficiently to where I want to go: I’ve learned if the person to whom I’m speaking is a prospect and asked for a meeting (not a sale) to learn more about my prospect’s problem and explain my solutions in detail.
Even if you’ve done all three steps above, you don’t have the perfect pitch. An elevator pitch tells someone what you do. Your introductory question (Step 1) is designed to engage the person to whom you’re speaking. But if you’re able to show someone concretely or involve them in what you do, you’ll heighten your prospect’s engagement in your pitch, demonstrate a deeper understanding of what you do and instill a reason to remember you if there isn’t an immediate need for your services.
How? I use a magic trick – quick and to the point — to show and involve someone so s/he remembers and understands what I do. You may be inclined to dismiss this approach out-of-hand as hokey or ineffective. The magic trick is valuable tool – a conduit — that gets me permission to continue the conversation. Step 1 below has been updated using a magic trick to show what I do.
Step 1: Getting attention by posing a problem:
ME: You don’t mind if I show you, do you? (Remember, most people don’t show; this “showing” will automatically set you apart!) I take out five $1 bills showing both sides. Five dollars in total. Then, with a flick of the wrist I turn them into five $100 bills. Five hundred dollar in total. I generate massive gains for companies investing in a trade show booth. If you were to spend $500 on one of my competitors, here’s your return. Then, I flick my wrist again and turn the five $100 bills into five $1 bills. I can consistently put a crowd in front of your trade show booth, communicate your company’s message more effectively and magnify your qualified leads and sales at the trade show and in the weeks that follow. This is what I do.
A similar business card trick might be perfect attention-grabber for your elevator pitch! There are many tricks which are easy to learn with high impact.
Jim Rohn said: “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” It doesn’t have to be a magic trick (maybe it’s a complicated origami)—just something for someone to gain a deeper understanding of what you do. I challenge you to come up with that something that gives your elevator pitch the perfect pitch! If you’re looking for an idea or two, please get in touch with me.
A 20-year alumnus of MDL partners, Steven Schwartz is the president of ResultsMagicTM and executive director of Fundraising By MagicTM. He’s also a life-long magician!
With decades of experience as a director of marketing, communications director, and communications consultant, ResultsMagic president Steven Schwartz combines his deep messaging and communications expertise with his magic know-how to provide unique marketing, sales, and team building solutions for his clients. Fundraising By Magic is an innovative approach for nonprofits to raise funding and companies to promote their businesses. Contact Steven Schwartz at 774.420.5065.