Elevator Pitch Tips for the Entrepreneur
Imagine you see a business acquaintance around town and she asks what you’ve been up to lately. You pause and fumble around with your words. Where do you begin? Your business has finally launched, and you know she could really use your services, but you only have her ear for 30 seconds. How do you get her interested in your services?
Well, first, lets talk about what NOT to do. First and foremost, don’t try to close a sale. This is just about starting the conversation, and sparking interest. Being too pushy is a sure-fire way to turn off a potential client. Don’t stumble for words and statistics. Take a cue from one of our favorite business podcasts, Startup, in their first episode “How NOT to pitch to a billionaire.” In his initial pitch, entrepreneur, Alex Blumberg, stumbles with facts, doesn’t have a clear idea of how he will serve customers, and is a plain mess. Enter the elevator pitch!
First impressions matter, and you don’t want to allow potential leads to lose interest after the first few seconds, so we’ve compiled a few tips to help make your speech pitch-perfect.
It’s crucial that you know your own communication style before you start crafting your pitch. Desiree Young, a pitch coach and business consultant with Venture Walk Business Partners, says, “If you know your own communication style and are true to that, you’ll come off as being authentic, and make a much stronger connection.” Venture Walk offers a free online Pitch Persona Quiz that equates pitch styles to sea animals. With the quiz, you can learn which “pitch persona” you are, and more importantly, learn how you can be your most authentic self in your elevator pitch and other communications.
Create an engaging opening sentence that grabs the attention of your potential lead. This could be in the form of a question, an industry-specific statistic, or by simply being kind and courteous. For example: “How often do you search on the web for a product before you make a decision to buy?”
3 is key.
Create 3 versions of your pitch for 15 seconds, 30 seconds, and 1 minute. Begin with your hook, then gradually increase the amount of information based on your audience’s interest and time constraints, ending with the invitation for follow-up.
It’s not about you.
Generally, people don’t care much about what you do (sorry folks), but they are interested in how you can help them. Be sure to communicate who you help and how you help them.
Practice makes perfect.
Since the elevator pitch is all about timing, it’s important to track your time and analyze your body language. The best way to begin is practice in front of the mirror. Or better yet, record yourself! Luckily, in this age of technology, almost everyone has access to a video recording device like a smart phone or laptop. Once you’ve gotten your timing and content down, practice with trusted friends to get some feedback.
Anyone and everyone interacting with customers at your company should know the pitch and practice it as well. Be sure to include the elevator pitch in your process. It’s not a bad idea to set aside an afternoon (or full day, if needed) for yourself and associates to learn and practice the elevator pitch. Don’t forget to incentivize your employees for being there by providing lunch or a light snack and make it fun!
Remember the follow-up.
After you’ve got their attention, don’t slip on the follow-up. Send an email inviting them for coffee, or drop off a nice piece of swag to keep you top of mind. Desiree Young says that on average it takes up to twelve interactions before a sale is closed, so don’t be afraid to be persistent, without being pushy.
Remember, the most important thing is that you can clearly and authentically communicate the concept of your business. Check with local resources like NOLA Entrepreneur Week for their annual live pitch competition and StayLocal! for networking and workshops just for small businesses in the Greater New Orleans area. Wanna hear our elevator pitch in person? Great, get in touch and we’ll buy you a coffee.