The elevator door opens, you step inside and there stands the head honcho of the firm you’ve been trying to get a meeting with for months. In all likelihood, it may very well not be in an elevator — you might be sat next to him on the same flight, attending the same conference or be waiting for a coffee fix in the same queue — but wherever it happens, you must be prepared.
1. Have more than one pitch: In other words, know your targets. Say you want to do business with a particular company. You should know who all the decision makers are — often there is more than one. Be ready to tailor your pitch for whomever you see when the opportunity presents itself. After all, there’s little point in trying to solve their colleague’s problems. Whomever you are speaking to, keep it concise. You need to have your pitch sufficiently succinct to cover all you need to in the time it takes to ride an elevator about ten floors.
2. Keep it about the business and not you: Unless you want your potential client to walk away thinking you’re a complete jackass, it pays to remember that while you should be confident in yourself, you’re selling your company and what it can do for the prospect. Hopefully, this chance meeting will be the start of a beautiful friendship, so there will be plenty of time to tell them how wonderful you are.
3. Be real: Yeah, okay, we can all do outlandish at times, but at some point you’re going to have to put your money where your mouth is and deliver. There’s a damn fine reason why the phrase ‘under-promise, over-deliver’ is thrown about like a hot potato; it’s true. Do yourself a favor and tell it like it is.
4. Be prepared to answer questions: Preparing an effective elevator pitch goes much further than preparing a few short blurbs about how great your company is. You’ve got to spend some time thinking about potential questions. If you’ve done your job, you’ll have piqued their interest and they’ll ask you questions. For god’s sake, be prepared to answer them.
5. Be passionate: So you’ve practiced what to say in all possible occasions and to a variety of potential audiences. You have your pitch down pat. Is that enough? Heck no; if you recite that pitch monotone, you’re going to send that prospect running for cover faster than Usain Bolt. Show a bit of passion for what you do. Excitement is contagious.
6. Okay, so I said top five. I never did learn to count, so here’s one more for good measure. Know what you want from the opportunity. Do you want the chance to give them a virtual demo? Perhaps you want them to dial into your next company web conference. Maybe you want a shot in a sales meeting? Be clear on what you want to achieve and steer your pitch in that direction.