You are in an elevator, and a friend introduces you to someone who could be an ideal new client for your business.
He asks you that inevitable question: “What is it that you do?"
This is it. The moment that puts you to the test. You have 60 seconds to explain yourself, your business, your goals, and your passions. 60 seconds to get the point across. Can you present your vision smoothly, enticing him to want to know more? You have 60 seconds, 59...58... before the elevator doors open and the conversation ends.
“We are a small ad agency and brand consulting firm" you say, anxiously awaiting your prospect to tell you how you are the answer to his prayers.
“Oh, I see...well... This is my floor.. It was nice talking to you. Bye.”
And you watch your perfect client walk away.
One of the most important things a businessperson can do—especially an owner or marketing executive —is learn how to speak about their business to others. Being able to sum up unique aspects of your service or product in a way that excites others should be a fundamental skill. Yet many executives pay little attention to the “elevator pitch"—the quick, succinct summation of what your company makes or does.
That's too bad, because the elevator pitch—so named because it should last no longer than the average elevator ride—is far too important to take casually. It's one of the most effective methods available to reach new clients with a winning message.
True, you may not actually be doing the pitching in an elevator, but even if your meeting is a planned, sit-down event, you should still be prepared to capture your audience's attention quickly. It’s important that you are able to communicate what you do to any potential client and make him believe you are the perfect solution to his problem.
How you position yourself is the difference between getting that prospect to understand what you do and walking away unimpressed.
You need to package your services verbally so that you can communicate the benefits of your service in a crystal-clear fashion.
Start by communicating the problem you answer, then the solution. This approach works so well because people are living in, thinking about and totally immersed in their problems.
By showing that you understand a problem clearly, you’ll most likely get their full attention. You have to be as specific as possible.
“We work with small to mid-sized business owners who are struggling to increase their sales”.
That should get the client's attention.
Now follow up with the solution. If you can share just one important example with a solid solution that solved the problem, you will get that person’s ear - and with one more meeting, you may just win the business.
Here is an example of a good answer to “What do you do?”:
“You know how a lot of small businesses struggle to make sales... well, our agency has proven solutions that guarantee sales."
Continually perfecting the elevator pitch ensures that you are always able to put your best foot forward as your business grows and changes and your client base expands.
Here are four steps from the Harvard Business School to help you formulate your Elevator Pitch.
- Describe who you are: Keep it short. Hint: What would you most to understand how you or your company would add value. the listener to remember about you?
- Describe what you do: Here is where you state your value phrased as key results or impact. To organize your thoughts, it may help to think of this as your tag line. Hint: this should allow the listener to understand how you or your company would add value.
- Describe why you are unique: Now its time to show the unique benefits that you and/or your company bring to the business. Show what you do that is different or better than others.
- Describe your goal: Describe your immediate goals. Goals should be concrete, defined, and realistic. Include a time frame. This is the final step and it should be readily apparent to the listener what you are asking of him or her.