Every businessperson has heard the term “elevator pitch” as a way to introduce themselves and their organizations to prospective clients. However, the elevator pitch is not just for quick introductions—the principles of creating a concise, memorable, impactful sales pitch—can be useful in the opening moments of a cold call, as part of your lead generation and appointment setting activities, and anytime you or your sales team encounter a prospective client, potential business partner or anyone else interested in learning more about your company.
In my experience helping clients to generate more sales, I’ve noticed that a good elevator pitch is actually more than just a pitch: it’s a conversation. Here are the must-have components of a successful conversation that can take you further than your next elevator ride. (Note: Assume a three minute pitch would spend about 30 seconds on each of these components.) 1. Introduction—grab their attention.
You know your business better than anyone. How are you keeping abreast of the latest ideas in your industry? What continues to set you apart from your competition? The introduction to your pitch needs to capture the prospect’s attention with a provocative question or an intriguing description that relates directly to your solution.
As an example, for my own lead generation services business, I open my pitch with one of these two questions:
- “We generate B2B sales leads. How would you like to increase your new business sales appointments by 30%?”
- “What if you had a way to pitch more decision makers without doing your own cold calling?”
The intro should set the stage and make the person want to learn more. The key here is to deliver your information casually so that your intro sounds like a natural part of the conversation, not staged.
2. Key selling points.
Break your pitch down into a few key selling points. These are “one-liners” that resemble news headlines that a TV news anchor might deliver. For example, I might say any one of the following:
3. Follow up question.
- “We help companies open doors by taking decision makers through a customized sales qualification process.”
- “We take lead generation responsibilities off the client’s to-do list, so their sales team can focus on selling.”
- “We lay the groundwork for the sales team by doing cold calls and identifying qualified sales leads.”
Keep in mind an elevator pitch is not a monologue; it’s a conversation with some back-and-forth between you and the prospect. Find a way to work another key point into the conversation by asking a quick question to keep your prospect engaged. This is a question that you often ask and already know the answer to. For example I might ask, “Do you think you are scheduling enough new business appointments?”
Most of our decision makers will answer this question with an emphatic “No!” or “I can always do more.” Here is where you deliver another selling point, while keeping it all conversational. Your follow up response would be:
“By doing more sales calls you will naturally be building a pipeline that will keep your business growing.” 4. Respond to feedback.
At this point you should be getting some feedback in the form of receptivity or lack thereof. Interested buyers typically behave in certain ways and you should be looking for these positive buy-in signs
5. Simply ask.
- Eye contact: Is the prospect focusing on what you have to say, or are they looking elsewhere, fidgeting or checking their phone?
- Body language: Is the prospect “leaning in” to the conversation or backing away? Does it seem like the prospect wants to hear more from you, or are they looking for a way to exit the conversation?
- Follow-up questions: Is the prospect asking good questions in response to what you’re saying? Are they asking for more details or chiming in with examples from their own business? It’s a good sign if the prospect is saying things like, “That reminds me of a time when my company did something similar…” or “We could definitely use something like that in my organization…”
At the end of your pitch, you need to make “the ask” and invite the prospect to take action. This is the point where you need to ask for an appointment or a follow-up call. There’s no magic trick here, you simply ask them, “Would you like to hear more? We can set up a time for a meeting or an online presentation.”
At the very least, you should give them your card so they know how to find you. This means you should always have your card in a place that’s easy to get to—not tucked away in the folds of your briefcase or handbag!
The goal of an elevator pitch is not to close a sale, but to simply deliver a compact and potent nugget as part of a conversation that occurs socially. It’s a way of talking with people and getting acquainted, but at the same time you’re qualifying and testing the prospect for their level of interest in moving the conversation forward.
Every time you talk to a prospective client, whether it’s at a networking meeting, at a trade show booth, at a community activity, during a lead generation cold call or on an actual elevator, you can use these key components to craft a well-organized and cohesive pitch. From there, you can work through your sales process and close the sale. OPEN Cardmember Al Davidson is the founder of Strategic Sales & Marketing, a leader among lead generation companies, which serves global clients ranging from local small businesses to the Fortune 100. The company’s appointment setters have generated over 7 million new sales leads.
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