BY ROB SMENTEKWith CD’s D.C. show now in the past and the 2016 convention season coming to a close, many of you are undoubtedly in the process of evaluating the contacts you’ve made over the past few months. While trade shows are rife with networking opportunities—those both planed by the event organizer and spontaneously found in social settings—sometimes the calls and emails don’t come, no matter how well you thought you connected with others. It just might be worth re-evaluating how you market yourself: Even though you’ve shared smiles, handshakes, and possibly a beer or two with a potential affiliate or business partner at a show, your sales message might not be clicking.
You meet people everywhere in all kinds of situations, and each could be a warm connection, potential customer, or future business relationship. Let’s face it: In today’s instant-delivery-with-a-click business world, no one has time (or interest) in long-winded sales pitches, particularly at event-packed trade shows, which is exactly why the “elevator pitch” has become an integral and valuable part of the business world. While the elevator pitch is simple in concept—a spiel that can be delivered (beginning to end) in the time it takes to take an elevator ride—it also needs to be short and to the point, well-planned, relevant to your audience, and, not to mention, catchy. Here are a few tips to help you craft and deliver an effective elevator pitch.
Start With a Question
When establishing an initial connection with a potential client, consider starting your pitch by asking a question. It could be as generic as “What do you think about that new sedan model?” or something a little more complex, like “Are you having any coverage issues in the Anytown, USA, market?” This will also enable you to gauge your audience’s interest—and prevent you from wasting an effort.
Your audience should have a complete understanding of who you are and what you offer by the time your elevator pitch is complete."
Make It Concise and Clear
As you craft your pitch, keep in mind that it should be no longer than 30-60 seconds. Anything longer will likely cause your audience to lose interest, and the last thing you want to do is bore a potential client—or even worse, leave them with the feeling that you’ve wasted their time. Your audience should have a complete understanding of who you are and what you offer by the time your elevator pitch is complete. If you’re worried about keeping your “script” within a strict time frame, remember this equation used by voiceover artists: 30 seconds = 70 words, 60 seconds = 140 words. Once you start crafting your elevator pitch, be conversational. Stay away from “big” or “fancy” words: Even though you want to come off as intelligent, you run the risk of alienating people by appearing to try too hard or worse, talking above them. And definitely avoid using industry jargon or overused, cliché phrases like “out of the box” and “do more with less.”
An ideal elevator pitch is tailored to a specific audience. You should have an idea of whose business you want to attract, so do a little research. Find out how your potential client runs their operation and who they cater toward. If you have target audiences that are vastly different, you might want to have a unique pitch for each (e.g., a corporate vs. retail client vs. affiliate).
Have a desired outcome in mind, too. You may want to have different pitches depending on different objectives. For instance, your pitch will be wildly different if you’re attempting to make a sale, gain a prospect, enlist support for a cause, or get a referral.
Answer Their Questions
The idea of the elevator pitch is intended to not only make a person aware of your company but also immediately get your foot in their door as a potential client. To do this, it’s important to answer common questions—before they are even asked. Your pitch should address the following:
Who are you?
What does your company do?
How are you different?
Are you passionate about your service?
Are you qualified to perform tasks at hand?
Are you able to offer a competitive rate?
Practice, Practice, Practice
Finally, like anything else, practice makes perfect. Remember, how you say it is just as important as what you say. If you don’t practice, it’s likely that you’ll talk too fast, sound like you’re reading from a notecard, or even completely forget what you wanted to say. You want to sound natural, not like you are giving a sales presentation.
Before you head to a trade show or business function, practice your pitch regularly. It should go without saying that the more you practice, the more natural your pitch will become. Again, you want it to sound easy going, not like an aggressive hustle.
Even with the great networking opportunities afforded to us through social media, the best connections are often made face to face, and are sometimes unplanned. A well-crafted elevator pitch give you the opportunity to break the ice and deliver a winning message in a in a short amount of time. [CD1116]