Your “Elevator Pitch”–how to refine and focus it

The “Elevator Pitch,” or “Elevator Speech,” is not just a key tool in your selling activities, it’s a must-have. Even if you never ride an elevator, you still need to be able to “net-out” who you are and what you or your product/service can do for prospects in a concise, intriguing way.

In this post, I’ll be doing two things: First, citing an article bearing the Imprimatur of the Wall Street Journal on the need for a good elevator pitch.

Second, I’ll be including an excerpt from one of my own sales books on how to develop an effective, to-the-point elevator speech.

(Actually, I don’t really like either term, but they’ll do until we come up with better. “Pitch” implies a hard-sell pitch right there, whereas it should be more of a brief, intriguing answer to an implied question,”Who are you and what can you do to brighten my life?” While”speech” implies standing and talking at the helpless, trapped subject. Beware.)

First, the article: “Why you need an elevator pitch” — an article by Sarah Needleman  in the Wall Street Journal blog section, “The Juggle”. It’s a couple of years old, but the points made are still right-in.

Go to article “Why you need an elevator pitch”

Bonus tip: be sure to read the comments, particularly one by Ruth Schimel, who raises an alternate approach: using that “elevator” time to ask questions that give you a better sense of who that person is, and what they may need that you can offer. In a sense, this is a kind of precursor to a Consultative Selling approach.

Full disclosure: Ruth Schimel is a career consultant in, I believe, the Washington DC area,. If it’s the same Ruth Schimel, we worked together for about five years: she as the very savvy contract coordinater for the US State Department on a series of management workshops I developed and presented. I’ll be checking that out shortly.

Second, here’s the excerpt from my book, How to SELL FACE-TO-FACE: SURVIVAL GUIDE . . .

which (thanks for asking!) you can order from Amazon in either the paper version or Kindle e-book. Order via Amazon How to Sell Face-to-Face: Survival Guide

Here’s that excerpt:

6. In 30 seconds or less, how will I sum up the essence of what kind of needs my product or service fills? In other words, who does it help, and how does it help?

In sales jargon, this is The Elevator Pitch. It’s the short, smart, pithy, intriguing response you’d make if you’re riding the elevator at a convention, or standing around before a Movers and Shakers Luncheon, and somebody asks what you do.

But short, smart, pithy, intriguing responses don’t just happen: you need to invest time in advance thinking through and rehearsing so the words come out just right.

The key is to focus on what your product (or service) does for customers— that is, what needs it fills—rather than on what it is. Example: suppose you’re asked that question of what you do. Which of these responses do you find more powerful and compelling?

❏ “I design web-pages to meet the new HIWE standard.”

❏ “As a consultant, I help clients improve their internet marketing reach using new technologies just becoming available.”

It may take time, and several early drafts, before you have the perfect Elevator Speech, so begin thinking about it early. But don’t lock it into concrete too early. Be open to what the marketplace tells you as you are making your early sales calls.

You want to keep your options open so you can adapt to what opportunities open up, yet you do need to be able to speak of one or a few areas in which your experience is relevant as a way of setting the context of what you are capable of.

For example, you could say,
“My experience has been in the general field of _____, and I’m adapting that expertise to problem-solving in related fields.”

Or you could respond,
“I’m basically a problem solver, working in the general area of _____.”

If possible, immediately back up these general statements with a capsule summary of one or two relevant accomplishments:
“For a large manufacturing company, we _____. We anticipate offering those kinds of services to smaller firms in this area.”

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