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The External Elevator Pitch

You get one chance to make a first impression.

This sentiment is often true when it comes to prospects and clients. You don't want to waste the opportunity to describe yourself or your company by being overly complicated or unprepared. When meeting with prospects, the stakes are high. We need to connect, gather information, and leave a lasting impression in a short amount of time. The key is to be prepared with an elevator pitch. In this article, we are going to discuss how to craft a great elevator pitch. We will discuss a few problems with elevator pitches and then how to overcome these problems.

1. Problems with Typical Elevator Pitches

Problem 1: Too Scripted. When most people teach or practice an elevator pitch, they write down a script and memorize it. This approach doesn't work well in real life because it can come across too rigid, and what if you forget what you were going to say? What if you have a 1-minute script and the person zones out after 20 seconds? What if you are overly formal and you are dealing with a casual person? The best elevator pitches are delivered based on the situation and feel relevant to your audience.

Problem 2: Too Company Focused. When asked to describe what they do or why they should be selected, many executives rifle off all their companies' benefits. Executives might say, "we're global, we have synergies, or we are a first mover." I hate to say this, but most companies are in a commoditized space, and your competitors are likely to be doing similar things. Is your company global? I hope so; it's 2020. Is your company investing in technology? If you weren't, I'd be worried. We forget the thing that makes us unique is us, the individual. Make sure to consider adding a little bit about yourself because this differentiates you. Yes, customers are buying what your company has to offer, but they are also buying from you.

Problem 3: Speaking dispassionately. If I ask you about your company and you come across bored and monotone, your disinterest would speak volumes. If you express boredom when describing your organization, why should a prospect or client get excited? Consider increasing your passion level because it speaks louder than words. Passion shows you care, and that you want to be there with the prospect. There are so many different ways to convey passion; it's not just about energy.

Problem 4: Unmemorable. Consider taking a smart risk in your elevator pitch. One of the ways to do that is to add something exciting and memorable. Do you have a hobby, passion, or something that makes you unique? Consider adding one of these topics. While not appropriate for every situation, it can be a huge difference in certain circumstances. For example, with prospects who have a great sense of humor, I have said, "I got into this business because I love performing stand up and still perform a few times a year."

2. Overcoming Problems with the Typical Elevator Pitch

The most practical way to solve these challenges is to approach your elevator pitch by drafting a list of bullets you can leverage depending on the situation. Here are four buckets to consider.

Bucket 1: Why you? - Why do clients love working with you? What is unique about you? How can you support clients? Why do you do the work you do? Here are some examples.

  • Experience

  • Response Time

  • Passion

  • Creativity

  • Relationships

Bucket 2: Why your company? What makes your company unique? What truly differentiates your company? What do you love about your company? Here are some examples.

  • Global

  • One-Stop

  • Risk Management

  • Leadership

  • Culture

  • Technology

Bucket 3: Why is your product unique or useful? Why is this product important now? Why would the prospect care about this product? What stats are compelling about the product?

Here are some examples.

  • Product History

  • Proprietary IP

  • Ease of Use

  • Results

Bucket 4: What is something memorable about you? What shows you are different than the other salespeople? This is slightly different than bucket one because this bucket is about putting yourself out there, and it should take some courage to include this in your elevator pitch. It is not appropriate for every individual but can be a game-changer when used appropriately.

Here are a few examples.

  • Hobbies

  • Accomplishments

  • Fun Facts

  • Why you are in the industry

  • Something you're proud of

  • Something vulnerable

3. Writing Your Elevator Pitch

Now that you know the pitfalls and key buckets of an elevator pitch, here are the steps to create one.

Step 1: Write 2 - 5 bullet points for each of the four buckets. Don't only use the bullet points you would always use; push yourself to write new bullet points.

Step 2: Write down 2 to 4 different situations where you might use your elevator pitch, for example:

  • Meeting someone at a sporting event in a casual environment

  • Meeting someone during a finals pitch

  • Meeting someone at a conference or virtual conference

Step 3: Film yourself delivering two different elevator pitches for two different scenarios. Listed below are two scripts for your reference.

Scenario 1 : Meeting someone at a casual sporting event. The prospect says, "great meeting you, so what do you do?"

Example 1: Sure happy to share. I am a relationship manager for XYZ corp, and I love what I do. As a relationship manager, I partner with clients to solve their most challenging financial and operational problems. I first dig in to understand their business, and then I deploy our team of specialists to develop innovative solutions. I'd be happy to give you a few examples of the challenges I've solved over the last 15 years. I'll leave you with one fun one. Our company hosts an annual music festival, and every year I sing and play guitar.

Scenario 2: You are meeting a prospect for the first time in a formal setting.

Example 2: Hi, my name is Steve, and I am a relationship manager for XYZ corp and have been with the firm for 15 years. My clients tend to work with XYZ corp due to our commitment to risk management and our continually evolving product offering. My clients have told me they appreciate two things about my approach as a relationship manager. First, I always respond within 24 hours, which they feel is critical when they need information for the higher-ups. Second, I am deeply connected to the industry, and clients appreciate the range of connections. Let me pause here; what else can I share that would be helpful.

You can see how having a few bullet points prepared can enable you to adapt your elevator pitch to any scenario. This powerful tool will make you and your pitch more memorable. I encourage you to regularly evolve your bullet points, so they never get stale. Moreover, if your bullet points are fresh, you will come across more engaged because you will not be reciting the same thing over and over. Your elevator pitch is an essential sales tool, so I encourage you to reinvent your elevator pitch. Thanks all!

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