sales pitch hero

What’s your elevator pitch?

Columnist Dan Mack discusses how the moment you slip into an old and tired sales pitch, you’ve fumbled the opportunity.

How often has someone asked you the question “what do you do?”  How many times have you started a conversation with a potential customer yet fumbled over why you are distinct, valuable, and necessary?  Research reminds us that we all have twenty seconds to pique a recipient’s interest, twenty seconds to make a bid for an attention extension!  The moment you slip into an old and tired pitch, you’ve fumbled the opportunity.

Many times, people talk too much, sound scripted, use too much jargon, and discuss what they do – not the problems they solve. Their words are far from compelling, normally are irrelevant, and rarely invite deeper discussion. They are caught up in a world of too many words, and not enough thoughtful discussion.

In contrast, the very best have their ideas and positioning down cold, allowing them to be present, improvisational, and attentive. They have become one with their message, allowing them to stay in the moment. The message stands out because it’s shared in the person’s voice in an interesting and compelling way. What you do has to be genuine, communicated in your own words, and conveyed with originality.

Similarly, people who fix things in lieu of making hollow statements or promises are far more engaging and valuable people. They’re able to adapt their communication style to the customer’s unstated needs and uncover the most pressing hidden problems.  They address only what matters to their customers and are laser-focused on their communication. Don’t attack problems uniformly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to solving a customer’s needs. We all expect personalized, tailored, custom solutions.

How comfortable are you Simplifyng your presentations? There are six traits in a tight elevator pitch.   

  1. Personalize: convey why you understand & relate to their world.
  2. Impact: share what you can fix and why it matters.
  3. Proof: outline examples of relevant, familiar clients you serve.
  4. Prune: share one message and don’t get bogged down with too many words.
  5. Tailo: customize your approach to the style and responsibility of the person.
  6. Co-create: share ideas, empathize and problem solve with them. Never pitch!

Ironically, great elevator pitches aren’t pitches; they are an extremely brief give and take. In the best elevator pitches, you only talk 20% of the time. You are listening, sensing, and asking thoughtful questions.

Tell the customer what you fix and give them some evidence showing how you’ve assisted others. Use a results-based story of a customer you served, how you helped them, and how the results were measurable. Be extremely concise and respectful of their time to maintain relevance. A great elevator pitch must clearly answer three questions before you can move to the next level:

  • Why should I care?  
  • How can you fix my problem?
  • Will it be worth my time and a simple solution?

You only have twenty seconds to pique a recipient’s interest and earn an attention extension. Most people fail to capture that moment.

“Good things, when short, are twice as good.”
– Baltasar Gracian

Dan Mack is the founder of Mack Elevation.

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