Ditch the Pitch: Build Your Business with Conversations

Quick, aside from business cards, what is the one tool that almost all networking books say is a must-have?

The elevator pitch.

You probably have one—a quick (60-second), appealing summary of what your business offers.

Being able to articulate benefits and speak about your business is important, but let me offer a contrarian view: ditch the pitch.

Here’s why:

  1. Elevator pitches sound like sales pitches.  Nobody likes to be pitched right off the bat.
  2. Elevator pitches are too long.  Sixty seconds is a long time to be talking when you meet a prospect.  You should be listening more.
  3. Elevator pitches can get stale over time.  You can get bored saying the same thing over and over.  Your business changes.  Your customer changes. What you say should change, too.
  4. Elevator pitches are often too general.  They don’t speak to specific needs.
  5. Elevator pitches create anxiety when people try to memorize them.  It can be counter-productive to spend a lot of time coming up with the perfect pitch only to feel almost paralyzed when the time comes to use it.

So, what do I suggest?

  • Start with a “bumper-sticker” version of your elevator pitch—something of about 8-12 words that is both natural and leaves people wanting to hear more.  For example, I might say, “I help people have better, more profitable conversations.”
  • Come up with a few different “modules” of benefits or statements that you can use for different prospects or in different situations (a longer pitch may actually be appropriate in a formal networking situation in which everyone gives a “commercial.”).  Include “modules” of some short anecdotes to illustrate your benefits with a personal touch.  People may forget your pitch, but they will remember the story of how you made a difference for a customer.

Many of the articles on elevator speeches can give you great ideas, just don’t feel you have to cram it all in in 60 seconds.  Chunk it out.

  • Plan on having a conversation with your prospect.  Listen for their pain points and “insert” your “modules” as appropriate.

What are your thoughts on elevator pitches?

Here’s Seth Godin’s thoughts on Nobody Ever Bought Anything in an Elevator


About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

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