Professionals often stress the importance of developing an engaging and effective "elevator pitch" for young entrepreneurs, salesman and interviewees. This short, concise speech is used to captivate the attention of a potential customer, client or employer to entice them into a new opportunity-whether that be a new product or even a job. The pitch is meant to be a passionate, abridged plea that does not focus on a lot of technical detail or dwell on unimportant material; instead, the pitch should work like a well-constructed outline and gain the interest of the intended target.
As a young professional, I began my first professional position without an effective elevator pitch. I had managed to gain employment without ever having to briefly summarize my intentions to an employer-the interview process allowed more time and detail, and I never had to significantly condense my thoughts. As I began my job working in sales, I realized that I had very little experience formulating brief and informative talking points for prospective clients. My product pitches were extremely boring and redundant-which caused a significant dent in my sales numbers. After watching other successful salesmen and researching strategies for creating an effective elevator pitch, I realized that following a few simple tips would help me develop a concise and successful pitch.
A successful elevator pitch should short and simple. The purpose of a pitch is to grab the client's attention. Although focusing on facts and detail may seem like important material for a client to know, an overload of information actually bores clients and customers. Instead, a professional should save the routine details for a later conversation when they are more pertinent to the success of the sale. As I began developing my own elevator pitch, I found that removing technical language or jargon related to the product I was selling helped generate a more engaging pitch.
While an elevator pitch should be short and concise, it should also have a well-defined goal. Every point made and example used should work to further the point being argued in the pitch. For example, if a job applicant begins a discussion with a potential employer at a career-fair, their pitch should revolve around why they are the best individual for the job-the job is the goal. Before developing an elevator pitch, it is crucial to actively imagine the intended outcome of the discussion, and, from there, formulate a goal.
Next, it is vital for a professional to explain step-by-step how to achieve their intended goal. For instance, a job applicant should highlight the skills and experiences that make them the best candidate for the sought-after position. Many professionals struggle with this segment of the elevator pitch and often lose focus-I know I did early in my career. It is useful to think of this section as a "supporting evidence" portion of an argumentative paper. Every step or talking point should bolster or defend the intended goal of the discussion.
At the conclusion of an elevator pitch, it is critical for a professional to relate to the intended target why they are crucial to achieving their goal. For example, if the intended purpose of the pitch is to gain an investor for a company, it should be explicit how the investor's help will benefit the company. It is important that elevator pitches are specific and that they ensure the intended target understands why they are invaluable to achieving the highlighted goal.
The elevator pitch should conclude in a professional manner. Some individuals will be interested, so it is important to make sure to have a business card or a resume on hand to provide them. Moreover, they may show immediate interest and ask follow-up questions. It is important that a salesman, entrepreneur or job applicant is able to provide follow-up details-preparation is key.
It is also possible that an elevator pitch simply does not generate any interest from the intended target. If this is the case, simply part in a professional manner-a smile and a handshake.
A professional should also personalize and customize their elevator pitches for specific audiences or customers as they gain more experience. The needs and wants of a small business will differ greatly from a large corporation, so it is crucial to focus on different outcomes for each target. Early in my own career, I often used the same pitch for each client and rarely changed my approach; however, I soon realized that successful salesmen were employing distinctive tactics for different clients. After adopting this method, I found that catering to clients' features produced a lot more interest in the product I was selling.
Developing an elevator speech is a skill that is overlooked by many professionals. Starting early in your career allows an individual time to gain the necessary experiences to form an array of effective pitches. Being authentic—do not act desperate—enthusiastic and prepared will produce an elevator pitch that not only captures the attention of the intended target, but also will lead to further inquiry. The first step is practice; so do not be afraid to fail! Learning what works and what does not will only improve your pitch and help you evolve as a professional.
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