A few weeks ago I woke up at 5:30 AM and traveled in the dark to attend a speed networking breakfast. For 15 rounds, I had just 60 seconds to make an immediate connection with the person across the table before the timer chimed and I was off to do it all again.
This exhilarating exercise is one way to sharpen an essential skill in the entrepreneurial toolkit – the elevator pitch. How quickly you communicate what you do with clarity and impact can make all the difference in winning new business.
While the goal of a 60-second pitch is not to close the deal, it’s the start of a longer conversation that begins with piquing the interest of your potential customer, client, or investor. Below I outline how to lead that conversation with a pitch-perfect pitch that will help you stand out.
Begin with a Powerful Hook
Use a well-formed question or startling statistic to set the stage. This will immediately capture your listener’s attention while highlighting the problem your business solves.
For example, at Impagination we often cite that a whopping 86% of businesses do not have a clearly defined unique value proposition – something essential for long term success in business! Try to have a few variations of this hook handy so you can tailor your pitch to your audience.
Play the Hero
All business is about meeting a need and solving a problem. What problem does your business solve and can you explain this simply and clearly? Distill what you do to its essence as you’ll want to keep this bit of your pitch concise.
More important than what you do are your results, so make the key benefits of your product or service a part of your description. That’s the difference between saying, “we build websites” and “we build optimized websites that can increase annual revenue by up to 30%.”
Share Your It-Factor
While there are many businesses that might do what you do, what will set you apart is how or why you do it! Why would someone choose you over your competitors? Kick this point up a notch by grounding your statement with real facts, figures, or social proof.
The goal of your pitch is to start a conversation. So pass the (figurative) mic! Close off by asking a question to get your prospect thinking about what you can do for them. Ask them how they are currently trying to tackle the problem on their own to open the window for sharing how you can help.
Get pitch-perfect with practice. This will make all the difference between having a pitch that sounds enthusiastic and organic, and one that misses the mark. Hone your speech so you can say it clearly and confidently and you’ll be ready to shine when the clock’s ticking!