Imagine this: You're trapped in a high-rise elevator ride with someone that looks suspiciously like a perfect buyer. What do you do?

Well, of course you drop into your "elevator pitch" and proceed to bore them to death, then, maybe, just maybe, the two of you exchange business cards and despite saying something like "I'll reach out to you next week", neither of you do and the business card is sent to the business card graveyard in the top right drawer of your desk.

Months later, you uncover the card while looking for another random card you placed in there and you have no clear recollection of who was who and how they may or may not be able to help you or how your company can possibly serve them.

In honor of the new baseball season, your pitch was a ball, not a strike.

How DO you pitch a strike in the elevator? For starters, know what you do. Over many years, I've heard plenty of entrepreneurs toss out a sixty second "elevator pitch" that seemed more concerned about not alienating the listener than about explaining what the company actually did. Be real with yourself and the poor soul listening to you. If you are a butcher, no amount of floral prose is going to make a vegetarian need your services. A criminal defense attorney is not likely to convert a victim's rights advocate to their cause.

Understand, the chances of closing some poor soul in an elevator (or the grocery store line, or wherever) who is paired with you through random chance is akin to winning the lottery, so why mince words? Tell people what you do and how you do it and be done with it!

Where this gets hard for small business owners is for those who are doing too many things. One young lady I met at an event on the East Coast was A.) a wedding officiant B.) a "virtual paralegal" (whatever that is) and C.) an event organizer! Even worse? She was the sole proprietor in all three businesses!

Now, that's far past insane to believe that you can be all things to all people, but it illustrates the problem - in a "pitch" situation, she was all over the board. Bear in mind, all of these were purportedly businesses, not just passions or hobbies, and all of them constituted an income stream she had to manage daily, weekly, and monthly. Even worse, theoretically, anyone she could meet would have a need of the various services she could provide.

No! Pick one and stick with it.

There are a million ways to coalesce your business into a 60 second interaction and that's not the key for us today. What's more important is the follow up from that interaction. Remember that business card exchange that ended up in a drawer?

That part has to stop ... specifically the idea that you and the person you are exchanging cards with are ever going to reach out to one another to follow up. I'll put it simply - when you give someone your card and express your desire to call on them in the next few days, and then you don't, you have lost your integrity as a business owner.

What about actually calling them next week? What's to stop you? "Sure, Gerber, I've got plenty of time to just chit-chat with a complete stranger."

Imagine replacing just one social media interaction with a live one each day. Or, if you are truly pressed for time, exchanging an email with that new contact and perhaps indicating more of what it is that you actually do and how your company takes care of its clients. The fortune is in the follow up and no matter how good or bad your elevator pitch is, the very basic act of following up with a new contact - no matter who or what they do - reinforces the passion that surrounds true entrepreneurs no matter what their business model is.

Published on: May 8, 2017
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