The elevator pitch. It’s a phrase that we often hear in the business world, and it’s (unfortunately) something that we do quite often in our own business. But is it the right thing to do? Is it working for us? And what the hell does it really mean, anyway?
Wikipedia describes an elevator pitch as a short description of an idea, product or company that explains the concept in a way such that any listener can understand it in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. It generally explains one’s skills and goals, and why those skills would be beneficial to the person listening to the pitch. The purpose of our pitch is to convey a sense of who we are and what we do to someone with whom we don’t already have a business relationship.
The biggest problem with the elevator pitch is that no on ever bought anything while they were riding on an elevator. It’s a lousy way to make a case for our business.
Whenever we think we’re in the perfect position to make an elevator pitch, when we meet someone who could possibly be a future client, we’re tempted to launch right into our spiel. We figure if they knew all about how great we really are, there’s no way that they would ever hire anyone else but us.
It’s something we all do, all the time, when we’re out marketing. And it rarely works.
So, if we’re wasting our time trying to pitch ourselves to potential clients, what are our other options? Is there something else we could be doing to endear ourselves to our future customers?
Thankfully, there is.
Instead of talking about our favorite subject, ourselves, why not start out with a topic that’s probably more near and dear to the heart of the person with whom we’re hoping to connect?
And what is everyone’s favorite topic? What is the one thing that everyone is always more than glad to talk about in-depth, at any time?
Instead of expounding on how great we are, we should try to get our future clients to open up about themselves. Make the conversation about them. Try to find out who they are, what they do and what they’re looking for in their business relationships.
If we’re ultimately trying to connect with our clients, doesn’t it make sense that we find something to connect to?
Just as we can’t tie up our boat if we can’t get to the dock, we can’t make a personal (and ultimately, professional) connection with someone if we don’t know whether they’re a good fit for what it is we’re offering. Business relationships are built on mutually aligning goals. We work best (and longest) with people who share our outlook and values.
But we’ll never learn what their values are if we never stop talking about ourselves.
All too often, especially when we first start out in our business, we feel like we’re being rejected at every turn. While sometimes we are being dismissed out of hand, quite often that rejection occurs because either our goals aren’t lining up with our potential customers, or we never even give them a chance to let us know what their goals are for their business relationships.
Instead of jumping right into our prepared speech, taking for granted that every potential client we meet can’t wait to use our services, why not take a different approach? What if we tried to understand who they are and what their needs are before we go in for the kill?
We may find that the ones who are looking for our services are more receptive to someone who’s interested in getting to know who they are and what they’re about, rather than just being interested in the revenue that they represent. We may also find that we can provide some other type of help to the ones who aren’t (currently) looking for our services, offering to help solve some other type of issue for them, even though it doesn’t mean that we’re profiting from the situation.
We often will make a lasting impression on someone when we offer to help them with something that doesn’t directly make us money. People will always remember someone who went out of their way to offer assistance, even though there was no direct benefit to the person helping them. Doing something for someone else, simply out of the goodness of your heart and not looking for anything in return, is the best marketing that you’ll ever do.
Even though we’re not doing someone a favor with the intention of ever getting anything in return, people remember it when you do something nice for them. Some of my best, long-term clients (and friends) are the ones whom I helped with a problem, even though that problem had absolutely nothing to do with me or my business. Those acts may have cost me a bit of money and/or a portion of my time, but the benefits of those kind acts have been repaid in ways that simple marketing could never touch.
There are many ways that we can help other people that we come across in our business. Whether it’s simply offering them advice on some subject that’s in our wheelhouse, or connecting them with another subject matter expert, it usually takes minimal effort on our part to lend someone a hand.
Most people appreciate it when we try to offer them help without trying to make an elevator pitch. Think about it; every one of us is getting hustled every minute of every day. Online, in social media, on billboards, in print, on television, the radio and at the movie theater, 24/7. We’re always being bombarded with someone’s (or something’s) elevator pitch.
Shouldn’t we want to stand out as an exception to that rule? And if we do, one day, we may rule our industry. One new-found friend at a time.
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.Maya Angelou
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