Elevator pitches have gotten a bad rap because most aren’t very good. Pat Weber* Business Coach for Introverts and Shy is a business colleague I met on LinkedIn. It turns out we both have strong opinions about what I prefer to call a brand statement — because it is supposed to communicate in about 30 seconds the “what’s in it for me?” I interviewed Pat for her ideas — her very strong ideas — about what drives her crazy about elevator pitches and what you can do to make yours rise to the occasion. Here are her answers to my questions. To learn more about how Pat and I began our collaboration on LinkedIn, tune in to our discussion on Free Webinar Wednesdays: “Success Stories From the Trenches.”
Why do most of these pitches sound the same?
[tweetmeme]People always say the same thing in their introductions in meetings that go on week after week. I’ve worked with a couple of clients to tease out of them at least 6 or 7 variations for something fresh and interesting to listen to. Otherwise, listening can stop.
Because people put up with this silliness, it discourages creativity to create and speak something of real interest. I personally think the networking group BNI is one of the worst at encouraging this because, as far as I know, how to vary your pitch is never addressed in their training.
Is it just me, or do most pitches have the wrong focus?
This is where that verbal diarrhea needs something like Pepto Bismol. It’s “my company,” and “our products” and “we’re the best.” I mean who really cares? What the prospective client wants to hear is – what problems do you solve? How does that mean anything to me? The other stuff is fluff and only matters as the relationship deepens.
The worst elevator pitches are loaded with the words, “I, me, my, mine, ours.” I tested this once as educational leader of a local leads group. Before everyone started in a tiresome round robin of pitches, I asked everyone to stand. The directions were that as soon as anyone heard a pitch with “I, me, my, mine, ours,” they could tell the guilty party to sit down. It was like rapid fire all around the table. The point is the focus of many, or most elevator pitches is wrong.
Rarely do people talk about the problems they solve and instead run like a race horse out of it’s gate with, “we have blue widgets and a lot of people like red widgets,” ad nausea. A listener has little interest in product features during an introductory pitch. But the listener does want to know the type of problems solved or the benefits of a product or service. Focus, focus, focus on answering “Just what does that mean for me?” for the prospective customer or referral partner. This will help you to lead with problems solved or benefits of the features you want people to know about.
How can elevator pitches attract potential clients?
What if people would end their pitch with what Barbara Lopez. Elevator Pitch Coach, calls, Make Them Want More? Offer them a small experience what you do or have: a free sample, your blog address, something to give them a reason to want to talk further with you instead of ending things with, “And again my name is … yakkety yak.” Who cares!
*Leading and inspiring introverts in business with coaching, training and eBooks, to live genuinely for the most success and fun. Business Coach for Introverts and Shy, Patricia Weber.
For my take on elevator speeches follow this link to where Pat interviewed me.