Selling your business in 60 seconds can be a daunting task, but it’s possible.
You have a short window to capture attention, generate interest and find new clients. Armed with exactly what to say and how to say it, you can go from a quick chat on the ground floor to a meeting in the executive suites.
At a recent conference in Toronto, networking coach Mark Greenspan ran an interactive session called The Perfect Pitch: Win New Business Everywhere You Go. Having worked with major brands like Salesforce, Deloitte and Google News Lab, his training programs help business pro get ahead in a competitive landscape.
We highlight what it takes to perfect your elevator pitch and turn a new contact into a lead.
Craft your elevator pitch
« A good elevator pitch should be no more than 60 seconds, » Mark states boldly. Even shorter, around 45 seconds, can make sure you pack a punch.
Come up with your one-liner elevator pitch before you go to a meeting, conference or just stepping out into the world. A top-notch elevator pitch should include your benefit statement – not just what you do, but what service you provide that differentiates you and makes you stand out. Within your pitch you can independently verify your expertise by saying who you’ve worked with and attached someone else’s credibility.
For example, a medical sales pro may have a pitch that goes something like,
“I provide North American enterprise companies cutting edge medical devices that have literally just come out onto the market. My focus is on medical imaging and skin grafting, and recently I’ve been helping the VPs of GE and Siemens access new product lines targeting their key verticals.”
Describe what you do and how you can help them in a succinct way. Then ask questions…
Be interested before being interesting
This was a common theme Mark highlighted, as “you have to be interested in what the person is saying and who they are before talking about yourself.”
Genuinely listen to what the other person says without thinking about what you’re going to say next. This active listening will help you connect with them, which will also make you memorable. Don’t worry about what to say next, as they’ll prompt you for information.
Act like you’re a journalist
Ask plenty of questions. It’s a little bit like being a reporter and finding the story.
In fact, Mark goes a step further to recommend not talking about yourself at all until you are asked a direct question. You’ll notice how challenging it is at first to hold back providing any information about yourself. Instead, you’re forced to ask additional questions and spur on conversation from the other person.
Find common ground
“Remember, networking is about making connections to see if there’s potential for a business opportunity there,” Mark advised the audience as they were practicing their elevator pitches with each other.
Start with conversation around something relatable like golf, football, the last place you vacationed, your alma mater or your family. Then move on to common ground like business pain points and what you’re trying to achieve over the next year.
This brings the pitch back to the benefit statement, making sure that what you say truly can offer assistance to your contacts. Commonalities can be the foundation for a trusted business partnership.
Connect on LinkedIn right then and there
Now this doesn’t work in every instance, but in the session, many people grabbed their smartphones and were connecting with each other on LinkedIn. When you have the time, this is a brilliant way to stay connected.
Offer to exchange business cards, but say, “Hey why don’t I add you on LinkedIn?” Make sure you have the right profile displayed and by connecting with each other in person, they’ll have a better chance of remembering who you are and what your elevator pitch promises.
End on an ‘ask’
Without an ‘ask,’ you’ve networked without any promise for future follow-up, Mark cautions. But the ask doesn’t have to be direct, and that’s the beauty of this tip.
In one example, Mark worked on the elevator pitch with an entrepreneur who owned a wedding videography company. The man’s original ask was, “Are you getting married anytime soon?” The audience chuckled, but many couldn’t offer a better question.
Instead, Mark suggested taking a different approach that’s more relatable. “What’s the worst wedding you’ve been to? It’s not a direct ask, but it gets you thinking. As a wedding videographer, this is the lead generation portion of your pitch.”
Asking a thought-provoking question that is related to your business offerings can be the perfect ask. It opens up the conversation and shows how you can help and be different.