Differentiate Yourself with Your Elevator Pitch
A number of years ago I was sitting in an interview for a big-time, national accounts position with a very well-respected high tech company. The VP of Sales pulled out my resume, perused it for a moment, and then, as he began reclining in his large leather chair, proceeded to ask his first question: “So, what’s your current Elevator Pitch?” “My what?” I replied. “You know, you’re Elevator Pitch. You and I, we’re stuck in an elevator headed to the 22nd floor, I turn to you and introduce myself and ask – ‘So, what do you do?’”
The next few moments were a blur and quite frankly, I have no idea how I responded or exactly what I said. I do remember having a sinking feeling in my stomach as I bumbled my way through my reply, thinking that the only elevator I was on at that moment was taking a death drop to the 22nd floor of the basement. Big surprise…..that interview wrapped up pretty quickly and I didn’t get the job!
The Elevator Pitch, 30 Second Pitch, 30 Second Story, however you care to describe it, is one of the most useful and powerful communication tools you have available in your sales toolkit. And yet, very few people bother to invest the time to develop good ones, let alone GREAT ones.
Typically, when you ask the question “So, what do you do?” you hear vague responses like “I work for a technology company” or “We’re a provider of xyz services.” The polite response they receive is “Hey, neat….well, you have a great day.” Think about how many times a day you get asked what you do for a living. Imagine being able to respond with a compelling, engaging response that differentiates you from your competition and leaves people with a “hot” first impression and thinking WOW…….tell me more! So what do the components of a great Elevator Pitch look like?
You’ll want to answer the following questions:
1. Who are you? Provide them with a literal description of your business. For example, I tell people I work for a sales and marketing effectiveness company. They now have a framework to receive the rest of the message. Incorporate your company theme or high level message. “Companies come to us because they’re looking for…”
2. What do you do? What are the key messages or takeaways that you want them to remember? Describe them in a unique and compelling way. You’ve heard the phrase “sell the sizzle, not the steak?” Well, here’s your opportunity to do just that.
3. Who have you helped? Here’s your chance to showcase customers that you’ve successfully worked with in the past. Briefly mentioning key clients helps with first impressions and credibility. If you’re able to match some of your client’s priorities or challenges with ones that the person you’re speaking with may have identified, this will reinforce your credibility.
4. Why are you different? Identify your differentiators – the things that make you unique or different from your competition. A quick statement like “we’re the only company who does xyz” or “companies recognize we are uniquely positioned to help them accomplish x” creates separation between you and other companies out there who may be claiming similar capabilities.
Mark Twain once wrote that “It usually takes more than 3 weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech…” The key to delivering a great Elevator Pitch is being prepared to not only know what words you will say, but being able to deliver them at a moment’s notice, in a conversational style, with passion and conviction. That takes practice, so don’t leave it up to chance, start working on it now! Test it out on co-workers, family members, and friends to make sure that your messages resonate and are easily to understand. Continue refining and practicing it so that you “own” the message and it sounds “impromptu” when you deliver it.
So, the next time you’re at a trade-show, a networking event, on a cold call with a prospect, or in an elevator headed up to the 22nd floor and someone turns to you and says, “So, what do you do?” deliver the most compelling Elevator Pitch they’ve ever heard so they reply, “Wow…..please, tell me more!”
By Mike Miller, Consultant, Corporate Visions Inc.