Do you have an elevator pitch?
You know, that brief, well-rehearsed speech that’s designed to get the listener interested in your product, service or business idea.
It’s called an elevator pitch because it should be short enough to deliver during an elevator ride. The theory is that if your pitch is successful, you’ll have the other person hooked and eager to know more before the door opens at their floor.
Because your elevator pitch can help you win new business, it’s worth putting time and effort into preparing one that’s ready to use at the right time.
The question, though, is when is the right time? Just because you have a great elevator pitch doesn’t mean you should roll it out at every opportunity.
For example, imagine you’re at one of your business association’s regular monthly events and someone you know has just introduced you to the person standing next to her.
After shaking your hand, checking your name badge and saying hello, this person looks you in the eye and asks, “What do you do?”.
It’s a conversation-starting question that probably everyone has used in that kind of situation.
Is that the right moment to recite your elevator pitch? Or is better to give a ‘plain vanilla’ response and say, very simply and without embellishment, what your profession or occupation is?
The answer lies in the context.
The elevator pitch is a sales technique. It’s a verbal door-opener that helps you get one step further to closing a deal.
When someone you’re introduced to at a business networking event asks what you do, they are just trying to get a conversation going. Nothing more, nothing less. Launching straight into your carefully crafted elevator pitch is probably not going to achieve much.
There is, however, one likely exception. That’s when you’ve previously identified this person as a prospect. Perhaps you’ve also anticipated their attendance at the event and set up the introduction.
It comes down to the difference between networking and selling.
Giving an elevator pitch is a sales activity. On the other hand, networking is about building relationships and does not mean selling yourself to strangers.
So be careful with your elevator pitch. Have one ready to use at the right time, knowing that’s unlikely to be when someone you’ve just met and know nothing about asks what you do.