Does Old Advice Work Today?
You’ve heard the many experts advising you to spend time developing an elevator pitch. Bet you’ve even rehearsed one. I did. It’s common advice and common practice, but does it work? Will it persuade decision-makers and influencers? I’m joining the chorus that says “no.”
Recently I attended eUprising2014 in Los Angeles, where successful entrepreneur and thought leader Larry Broughton asked entrepreneurs a simple question, “How many of you have ever purchased a product or service because of someone’s elevator speech?” [insert cricket sounds…] He then asked, “How many of you have made a sale or gotten a contract based on your elevator speech?” [Yep, cricket sounds again…]
3 Reasons to Pitch the Elevator Pitch
If you’ve ever been to a networking event and listened to a few, you’re likely to understand how they fall short in making meaningful connections. Here’s why I agree elevator speeches are of little value:
1. They’re Canned Like Tuna
They are rehearsed and prepackaged. Elevator speeches, even when cleverly constructed bring very little of the personal value on which good business relationships are formed. Typically, they lack genuine personality. They often feel artificial and lack authenticity that promotes conversation and trust.
2. Me Me Me Me Meeeeee
If you’re really interested in forming relationships that lead to greater business growth, you are the last thing you should be talking about. As a matter of fact, you should be listening. Listening to needs, concerns, interests and goals. Listening for opportunities to help others and form meaningful relationships. If you’re busy pitching for the short term sell, you’re missing opportunities to attract and serve for the long-term relationship.
3. Top Level Decision-Makers Don’t Buy ’em
Your first few minutes with a top-level decision maker determine whether you will have a 5 minute meeting or a 55 minute meeting. If you ask thoughtful questions and listen to their replies, you will likely have the 55 minute meeting and a great chance at a meaningful relationship. A vendor, partner or sales person who doesn’t bother to find out what the decision-maker wants and needs has missed the opportunity for a profitable partnership.
Take the Road Less Traveled.
If you’ve been advised to write and practice an elevator speech, I’d challenge you to take the road less traveled and craft a few well-thought out questions instead. Focus on questions that will help you understand your potential client or collaborator. Discover their needs and find a way to serve them well.
Once you have had a little practice listening and discovering what others want to talk about, go back to the drawing board and craft a few simple statements about what you value and why you do what you do. Don’t “pitch” your products or services… converse about what motivates you.
Remember, people do business with those they know, like and trust. Invest in relationships and work to build trust. If you “can” the canned speeches, and start conversations… you may just spend more time in the “Top Floor” offices and less time waiting in the lobby.