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My Elevator Pitch Sucked (And What I Did About It)

Not too long ago in a land very close by, I was in an elevator leaving a pitch I had won (oh, the irony!). I was giving my elevator pitch. I watched, horrified, as my elevator buddy’s eyes glazed over just as I went into my spiel about algorithms, psychographics and mass amounts of social data.

I thought I was educating this man into buying my services. I was wrong …

The man, and probably 99.99% of other business owners out there don’t want to be educated on what you do. That’s why they’re hiring YOU – so that they DON’T have to learn the arduous processes and procedures around what you/your company does.

Thankfully, shortly after my startling realization I had a webinar with Infusionsoft, our CRM, about elevator pitches. What luck!

elevator

7 Ways To Stink Up The Elevator With Your Pitch

There are actually seven ways you can really muck up your pitch (including me, #4):

  1. The Opera Singer: Me, Me, Me, Meeeeeee. No, that’s not an Opera singer warming up, it’s the salesperson talking about themselves constantly. Yawn, I’m bored. Maybe I should have taken the stairs.
  2. The Generalist: If you give me the same, tired pitch that every other [insert your field here] gives, I’m tuning out. Think: “I’m a people person!” Or “I really care about your success.” Mmm-hmmm … I’m just going to let my eyes glaze over and think about what I’m cooking for dinner.
  3. The List Maker: “I can help you with … #1, #2, #3, #4 ….” If you try to tell everyone everything that you do, they won’t remember. Plus, not all of those things apply to them.
  4. The Professor: I can’t possibly try and teach someone all of the educational and technical things about social media. Neither can you. Nor should you. Most people don’t care about how it works, they care about WHY it will work for THEM.
  5. The Talker: Oh boy … I have had more than enough of these to last me a lifetime, only I never get saved by a brief elevator ride. In fact, I frequently get sat next to these people on planes. They talk, and talk, and TALK. You can’t get a word in. They usually also show major signs of being a #1.
  6. The Unprepared Dude (or Dudette): They fumble and mumble and say uh, um, or have unusually long periods of silence during their pitch. You basically feel really sorry for this person, but more sorry for yourself – “Why’d I bother to ask?!”
  7. The Buzzkill: The marketer or techie who uses a buzzword three times in every sentence. You have no idea what they’re talking about but you just nod and smile and try not to look stupid or confused.

What’s Your Hook?

Taking the above into consideration, I had to think about how to be interesting. It’s not as easy as it sounds!

My advice: Look for that one piece of information that piques the interest of your elevator buddy. Ask a question. Tell them a crazy fact or statistic. Be memorable, grab their attention, and make a statement.

Then, allow your friend to start a conversation. The more questions they ask, the more interested they are. Focus on the benefits you provide, ask lots of questions and let the conversation flow naturally.

The thing is, it’s all about getting that conversation started, and less about some “pitch”.

Great Questions Flesh Out Great Leads

As with getting to know anyone, questions are often key to great conversations.

There’s a book I highly recommend you read if you’re interested in sales. It’s called Action Selling. Truth be told, I wish I would have read this book back when I was selling and leasing real estate. I could have sold millions more!

Anyhow, Action Selling has an entire chapter on asking the best questions to find out how to better sell (or pitch!) to someone. Questions like:

  • How do you/your company “win”?
  • How do you/your company make money?
  • How are you/your company competitive?

And of course there’s always the easy questions that involve uncovering:

  • Likes
  • Dislikes
  • Interests
  • Responsibilities
  • Etc.

action selling

 

Turn Your Pitch Into A Conversation

So how’d I fix my pitch? I tossed it. I’m not the professor trying to “teach” in 60 seconds or less. I listen more than I talk, and when I DO talk I ask questions that help me uncover whether or not my elevator buddy is a prospect or not.

How about you? Do you have a pitch or have you canned it for conversation? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in the social sphere!

 


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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
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Category: "Ways Your Marketing Sucks" Series, Marketing, Sales, Social Selling
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20 Comments. Leave new

  • Great article, Brooke! I think we all have sucked at our elevator pitch at least once or twice. I like what you said about listening more than talking. I know when I start talking edgerank and reach I start to lose my audience. I try to find out what they need and then tell them how I can help them. I give them examples and show them my work. Usually that gets them excited and I can easily close the deal. I also find it helps to be real and not a salesman.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Heather! I spent so many years in sales doing very well, so I just figured I’d pick right back up on my own. Not true! Real Estate is so different from Social Media. The buyers wanted those little facts and tidbits; to be educated. But it’s not the same in our social world. I had to backtrack and make an admission (I SUCK!) and then regroup and move forward. It wasn’t easy, but it was certainly well worth it! These days I don’t worry so my about the “pitch” or selling and just try to genuinely get to know my elevator buddy. Much better!

      Reply
  • Very interesting approach, to include questions on your elevator pitch. I’ll start next time with ‘What makes you a winner?’.
    Thank you for sharing this info. I suck as a sales person. I’ve included a tagline: Social Media made simple but it’s not easy to be relevant in 60 seconds, is it?
    Great points. Loved to come across this on my LinkedIN feed. The pleasures of connecting on the social sphere!
    Cheers,
    V
    Veronica Solorzano Athanasiou recently posted…Staying true to yourself on the social sphereMy Profile

    Reply
    • I actually really LOVE your tagline, Veronica! So when someone on the elevator says, “What do you do?” You can say, “I make social media simple for businesses.” And then retort with, “And how are you a winner?” That sounds like a conversation I would love having on an elevator ride – seriously! 🙂
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Always appreciate your insight!

      Reply
  • Fantastic article; “I think I’ll take the stairs.” Funny. I have liked the pitch, agonized over the pitch, tossed the pitch but have come to realize that it is important. Clear, simple and to the point and somehow memorable helps!

    Reply
    • I really appreciate the compliment and feedback, Lisa! The pitch — or conversation — IS so important. I’m glad I had enough self awareness to realize how badly I was doing. Too bad I can’t get “do overs” for all those sucky pitches. OH, well. Moving on! 🙂

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Shannon Baker
    August 7, 2013 4:20 PM

    Great article Brooke! I brushed up my elevator pitch a few months ago when I realized that just telling people I’m a virtual assistant opened the door to a conversation. It allows me to explain what I do and then I ask them have they ever considered outsourcing administrative tasks or their social media and I generally have peeked their interest! So far that approach has been successful with small business owners so I’ll stick with it! I do go over the conversations in my mind after they happen and constantly make adjustments.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Shannon! I know that if someone told me they were a VA that it’d pique my interest, too. I’d have all sorts of questions … “What do you do?” “Who do you do it for?” “What special skills do you VA for?” Etc.
      You’re very lucky that your title alone is such a conversation starter! Congrats to you for constantly tweaking and making those adjustments. Sounds like your sales skills are SHARP!

      Reply
  • As I mentioned in the twitterverse I kind of suck at the elevator speech thing… I believe it is because I have done and am capable of doing so much in relation to IT that and well let’s face it IT is boring to anyone who is not a techno geek.

    I hate talking about myself and find I am much more comfortable interviewing others sort of like a talk show host. So I’ve developed an adaptive elevator speech that starts with the “I’m an Master Jedi of IT stuff…”, then I use my mind tricks to shift the conversation around the pitchee and their needs.

    Oh that and I prefer the stairs, I so need the exercise… ;-D
    Mikel King recently posted…Apache logging with rotatelogsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Mikel, I don’t think IT is boring, but I certainly don’t know nearly enough to keep up in convo! It’s hard to talk about yourself – at least for us humble folk, right?? If you like interviewing others you should be quite comfortable asking the “best questions” and getting to know your elevator buddy. And I’m sure your Jedi mind tricks always come in handy! 😉

      Thanks so much for stopping by and weighing in!

      Reply
  • Helpful and interesting article Brooke, makes me think about my own elevator pitch again. So far it has been too difficult, maybe indeed professor like, try to tell everything in one pitch and then the elevator already arrived before I am done. Veronica’s remark also helped me to realize that I need to simplify and reinforce the tagline. Maybe into something straightforward like “I make partnerships and strategic alliances simple for business” and then ask a question like “how do you create your partnerships?”. Ok, I borrow a bit of Veronica’s tagline, but in the end this boils down to what I do.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for stopping by and your kind words, Peter! I agree with you – I easily fall back into professor mode when I get lazy. It’s easy to fall back on what we’re accustomed to doing. I LOVED Veronica’s idea about the tagline. I also love our tagline (Think Conversation, Not Campaign) so I’m going to take her advice too and try and work that in.

      I like your one line delivery and then the follow up with how they make partnerships. If they’re not doing that well (or at all) you’ll know right away if they’re a solid lead! Hope it all works out for you. Do back come back and let me know! 🙂

      Reply
  • […] post My Elevator Pitch Sucked (And What I Did About It) appeared first on B Squared Media // B² […]

    Reply
  • And now I will be looking into this book so that I know how to effectively engage someone without sounding like a buzzkill. I shouldn’t use big words anyways..your right, most people do not understand the words in this field. Just like I don’t understand what a doctor is saying to me half the time!
    Laurie recently posted…Come Together-Week FourMy Profile

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  • […] I mean by storytelling in an interactive way is to make sure your sales pitch story is a two-way conversation (another […]

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