Ah, the classic elevator pitch. It's a challenge every entrepreneur, marketer, and sales person must meet, and yet most do it poorly. The concept is simple: communicate what you do in the time it takes to ride an elevator from ground level until the door opens and you have to leave. Of course, those of us living in New York have the advantage of very tall buildings. Truthfully though, you have about 1--2 minutes to leave an impression powerful enough to get someone to continue the conversation after exiting.

Everyone needs a simple and compelling way to explain what they do. It's the key to successfully prospecting networking events, chance meetings and parties for new business. But unfortunately the way most people explain themselves comes off self indulgent and boring resulting in wasted conversations and fruitless encounters.

Here is the typical wrong way:

Hi, my name is Frank Smith and I am the CEO of Smith Marketing Services. We help companies grow and we give great customer service. Do you have any marketing needs?

The people on the receiving end may or may not think they need a marketing company. Most likely, they are only thinking about what they are going to pitch to you.  This pitch does nothing to compel people to engage further, only to continue the conversation in hopes you want to buy what they are offering. Ultimately everyone's time is wasted.

A powerful elevator pitch, however, communicates a compelling value proposition that attracts customers predisposed to buy.  It can help you efficiently weed through a large group, stopping only for meaningful conversations with real potential customers. Here is a step-by-step process on how it's done:

Step 1--Connect with Empathy

Create a specific pain statement for the customers you want. You really only want to talk to people who are willing to pay for the problem you solve. Otherwise you are wasting your time and effort.  For example:

You know how growing companies with revenue over $5,000,000 struggle with getting sales people to say the same thing, let alone the right thing? Often they grow on the sales ability of the entrepreneur, never putting efficient marketing systems in place; then they hit a plateau and can't scale.

If the people hearing this don't get it or know someone who would, they can answer no and you can move on, having wasted less than 20 seconds.  But if their company is suffering from the issue you outlined you'll be able to witness their face drop as they identify painfully with the scenario.  Now you immediately look smart and empathetic as they affirm that the picture you painted is terrible and frustrating. You have gained their attention.

Step 2--Offer an Objective Solution

So now they are listening and they just got vulnerable. No need to put them on the defensive. They are thinking you might be pretty smart and insightful. Don't prove them wrong by trying to close just yet. Continue showing them how smart you are by offering up an objective solution to their issues. Begin with the entrepreneurial mantra: Wouldn't it be great...? For example:

Wouldn't it be great if there were a company that could design and implement comprehensive marketing that makes your sales process efficient and lets your salespeople close more deals?

If people don't respond positively to this statement then they weren't really connecting in Step 1 and you can dump the conversation having only wasted 30 seconds total. Those who connect should be now hanging on every word and nodding their heads, thankful that someone finally gets their frustration.

Step 3--Provide Differentiation

Now they are 90% there. The best way to close is by explaining why only you are the best to provide the solution they need. You have to ready a couple of points that truly differentiate you from your competition. Note that "Experience" or "Great Customer Service" won't make you stand out since all of your competitors claim the same even if it's not true. A true differentiator is something your competitor can't do or won't do without great effort or expense. Here's the finish:

My company uses proven project management and storytelling techniques honed from our background in theater. Additionally we use proprietary processes outlined in my #1 bestselling marketing books and my national column on Inc. 

Perhaps I could send you a link to my column or a couple of chapters from my books?

If they say no, you only wasted 1 minute. If they say yes, you have succeeded in starting a conversation that may lead to business.  The last line is incredibly important because it gives you permission to get their email and pursue a relationship. Even if you aren't a writer, have compelling content like white papers, videos or blog posts ready to email and support your pitch as promised. That way you won't have to carry a ton of collateral into every elevator.

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