Elevator Pitches – 2nd March 2010

The meeting was held on Tuesday 2nd March 2010 from 17;30 to 19:00 in the Rose & Crown and Trish Slater, Paul Amans, Daniel Weck and Derek O’Connor were welcomed to their first MBF meeting. Also present were Chris Lilly, Rob Slater, Tony Coghill, Roger Stone, Andrew Wilkinson, Ian Parker, Tom Blackden, Julie Cole and Ray Hamilton.

The main discussion was on how to present your business to people you meet for the first time and we started with the exercise of trying to write down what we knew about the business of other attendees. Even though many of us had met and talked a number of times, this proved difficult and demonstrated how an being able to describe your business in a memorable way, although not easy, will make you stand out.

It was agreed that ideally you when you are meeting one person at a time, you would state your name and then ask the other person their name and about their business. You would aim to listen attentively and understand their businesses objectives and needs before explaining your business; in this way, you could tailor your explanation and examples so that they relate specifically to the other person’s needs. Andrew Wilkinson introduced us to the mnemonic “FARM” as a reminder for four stages in such a conversation
Find the pain points – listen and understand what issues the other person’s business has
Answer the need – show how you can help with the problems identified
Reassure the person – provide evidence to back up your claim that you can help
Make them want to carry on the conversation – agree follow up actions, meetings or calls

However, on many occasions (presentations, phone calls or when the other person asks you questions first), you may have to describe what you do without knowing much about the listener(s). This is your “elevator pitch”, so called from imagining the situation where you have a great business idea and step into a lift to find yourself with someone who has the money to invest in your idea – and you have less than a minute to impress them before they leave the lift at their floor.

The elevator pitch should have three elements
– Firstly, who you are and what you do
– Secondly, whom you are looking to meet (usually what sort of prospective customers you are looking for)
– Lastly, why you are a good person/company to do business with

The following tIps were suggested for making your elevator pitch memorable:

    • Speak clearly (in a large room, check if everyone can hear you)
    • Use words your audience will understand (do not use jargon unless your audience are in the same industry as you)
    • Describe your business in terms of how you help others rather than the details of how you achieve it
    • Use a story to show your expertise and how you have benefited one of your clients. Athough a concrete example may only highlight one aspect of your work, it can make you much more memorable when people are looking for someone in your line of work
    • Use humour, if you are good at it. If you find it falls flat, you may want to avoid it but you can always test it out on your friends first. Ray’s line about “being in the protection racket” was a good demonstration of how humour can be effective

We also talked about “USP”s – you unique selling point i.e. why your service or product is better than all competitors. It is often difficult to find something that seems really unique. But remember that your personality and experience are unique, and when you are talking to someone it is you they are listening to not your competitors – and that is a unique advantage. As we agreed at the meeting, “People buy from people” so if your elevator pitch is engaging, you start to build the relationship that can lead to a sale.

Presenting yourself briefly but memorably is a highly useful skill to develop. It can be used on many different occasions when you talk to someone for the first time – at networking meetings, when you make an introductory phone call, at social events, and even (in a slightly different form) when you write an introductory email. The difference between making a good first impression and not explaining yourself clearly can be the difference between making a sale or getting a referral versus being ignored or forgotten.

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