Your Elevator Pitch Won’t Work

“What’s your elevator pitch?”

It’s a question practically anyone whose worked in sales or marketing has been challenged with at least once. But here’s the deal: I’ve taken countless elevators during my professional career and have never sold a thing in one. Nor do I know anyone who ever has.

Fair enough, I’m being pedantic. The question is not meant to be taken literally. People who ask this question, including me on many occasions in the past, want to know how you can spark the interest and attention of a sales prospect in 90 seconds. Too often sales pitches, including those made by job seekers, take too long to get the point. The person with whom we seek to do business loses interest because we focus on telling our story as opposed to offering something that fulfills their needs.

You can see that in brand messaging, which we pay attention to for a lot less than 90 seconds, when the focus is on product features or attributes instead of addressing the benefits it delivers to customers. If you’re selling fishing poles for example, claiming your brand is “the best” is appealing, assuming it’s true, but if the consumer is new at fishing and focused more on price or ease of use you probably won’t convince them to buy.

Features and benefits discussion aside for a moment, elevator pitches are really about first impressions. What can you do to establish trust and rapport? The simple lessons about kindness and decency we learned as kids make all the difference. Frankly the best elevator pitch may be simply putting the phone away and giving the person in front of you your undivided attention.

Believing you can convince someone in 90 seconds to hire you, buy your idea or invest in your business is akin to planning your retirement around winning the lottery. Sure, it happens, but you’re likely to be disappointed if that’s your strategy.

Next time you’re in an elevator, forget the pitch, start by looking up from the phone, say hi, perhaps talk about the weather. Otherwise save the pitch for the meeting and enjoy the ride.

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