All relationships (including business relationships) start with an introduction. Making sure you nail that first interaction can help you become memorable to the person you just met. Fumbling for words, or not being able to succinctly explain who you are and what you do can not only make for an awkward interaction, but can reflect poorly on your business. Enter: the elevator pitch. Having thought about this interaction in advance you can have a great explanation of your business ready at the top of your mind.
Elevator Pitch Tips for the Entrepreneur: How To Craft Your Pitch
Imagine you see a business acquaintance around town and they ask what you’ve been up to lately. This is the time to polish off your elevator pitch and deliver it in person! But before you jump into your pitch, let’s make sure to cover what NOT to do:
- First and foremost, don’t try to close a sale. This interaction is just about starting the conversation and sparking interest. Being too pushy from the get-go is a sure-fire way to turn off a potential client.
- Remember you’re still having a conversation. Although we highly recommend practicing your elevator pitch, it needs to feel grounded and authentic – not like you’ve memorized your lines and you’ve finally got the chance to perform them.
- 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.
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. Keep reading to the end of the post to get our free elevator pitch workbook!
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.” Many people find it helpful to know their Myers-Briggs type, or their Enneagram. Having a good understanding of yourself makes it easier to write a pitch that feels authentic. Are you all about the numbers? Include them in your pitch! Does the big picture make your heart sing? Make this your focus.
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?” This opening sentence should change depending on who you’re speaking with, the atmosphere, the event, and so on. Having a few solid openers prepared can help you to make the best choice instead of barreling ahead with your pre-written lines.
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. Our workbook below makes it super easy to structure each pitch length!
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 smartphone 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 thereby 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.
What About Networking Online?
Networking and pitching your business looks a lot different now than it has in the past. With many of our go-to networking events being canceled or changed to at-home zoom calls its more important than ever to understand how to talk about your business from behind the computer.
While we highly recommend being able to do your elevator pitch in person, it’s also important to pitch your business online. In-person networking is a bit more straight forward, especially if you’re at a business function when people are more likely to be open to making new business connections. Pitching your business online takes more time and creativity, but can be highly valuable for your business. Here’s what we recommend:
- Clean Up Your LinkedIn – If you’ve been neglecting your LinkedIn presence, now is the time to dust it off and make it work for you. If you’re trying to make business connections, LinkedIn is the place to do it online. Make sure your profile is in tip-top shape, join groups on LinkedIn, and start commenting on other peoples posts.
- Take Stock Of Your Connections – Think about the business connections you already have, mentors, even people you admire. Do you follow them online? When is the last time you reached out? Make sure to connect with everyone you know who uses LinkedIn – you never know what may come of it! Whenever you send out new requests, make sure you personalize it with a message, especially if it has been a long time since you’ve met. Include a greeting, mention how you know each other, and make sure you do NOT start your pitch here.
- Start By Giving Them Value – How can you be helpful to your connections? Can you help connect two people you know who may be in the same field? Can you offer free advice? Can you simply share someone’s post when it connects with you? Giving value first helps to keep you top of mind, and makes people more open to your pitch when the time is right.
- Find The Right Time To Reach Out – Do you have people who are your dream clients who you may have never met? Coming in hot with your pitch out of the blue isn’t likely to work. Instead make sure you follow these people online. Read their posts, sign up for their email newsletter, and make sure you engage in a respectful way. You never know when they may hint to needing your services – getting the timing right for your pitch will help make it impactful.
- Keep It Personal – When it’s finally the right time to reach out, keep the focus all on them. Although you’ll use a lot of the content from your in-person pitch, when you’re reaching out online you need to be even more careful with your words, as people have a harder time interpreting intent when you aren’t face to face. Start off by explaining why you’re reaching out, and end with the smallest ask to get your relationship started so you don’t come on too strong. Maybe you work in PR – you could reach out to someone like this: “Hi Tim, I saw from your latest post that you landed a book deal, that’s so exciting! I’d love to connect you with our local news station to talk all about it.” Starting off by offering value makes you much more memorable to them so they’ll remember you as you work on building that relationship.
Free Download – Local Business Marketing
Get our free Elevator Pitch Tips workbook by signing up for our newsletter below (we promise not to use your email for spam). This workbook walks you through the pitching process step by step making it easy to collect your thoughts! It’s a freebie so feel free to download and print as many as you’d like!
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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.