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Love in an Elevator (Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch)
Heads up. Describe your business in under a minute. Was it convincing? Now shorten it to 30 seconds. Still effective? How about one sentence that sums up what sets you apart from your competition? Not so easy, is it? Though you may feel that it’s impossible to capture the essence of your complicated business in a sentence, the fact is that great concepts should always be able to be articulated concisely. An elevator pitch may be an old-fashioned concept, but it’s more important than ever.
You Talkin’ To Me?
A great elevator pitch is not a static entity. Though it should always convey the appropriate message, you should have several different versions ready to target different audiences. Have you just met a potential investor in a hotel lobby? Your pitch should address how your new financier will turn a profit quickly. Did you run into a potential customer at the airport? Your pitch should address the consumer’s particular concerns and how you plan to address them. Though your pitch may differ in details, the substance should be the same. It should always contain the underlying unique aspect of your business.
Practice your elevator pitch. Take it seriously. You may feel a little silly rehearsing a short speech in the mirror and chatting with a non-existent person. Get over these feelings and practice, practice, practice. Have you ever met a person with magnetic charisma? People tend to hang on their every word. You want to manifest these same qualities, at least for a minute. Write down your ideas in bullet points. Try to blend them together in terse and snappy form. Say them aloud. Record them and play them back. Perform your elevator speech in front of a trusted friend or colleague. Keep tweaking your pitch as your business grows. Remember, your business is evolving; so should your pitch.
Open, Don’t Close
Don’t be preoccupied with closing a sale or making a deal with your elevator pitch. Of course, you should always have an eye on the close, but think of your pitch as simply an opener. You want to generate interest and engender excitement. You’re just giving them a sample of the solutions you’ll be offering later. Set the table. Serve the ball. And don’t forget to hand off a simple but stylish business card. Identify the problem and pique their curiosity. If you’ve done well, they will be excited to return the ball and continue the conversation. Even if they’re not personally interested, you never know if they will hand your information off to another interested party.
Tell a Story
Your elevator pitch should resonate emotionally with your listener. This is not time to go into detail about the ins and outs of your business. Never try to sway with facts and figures. Try to determine the solutions your listener is seeking and convince him or her you can deliver them. Relate to them personally and communicate an anecdote that tells them of your journey. Brag a little. If you can back it up, you’ll come across as confident, not pompous.