Pitch Perfect?

So this is your chance to impress. Your ‘elevator pitch’ – A 60-second window to capture the interest of a potential new connection, sparking a few thoughts, planting a few seeds, deepening the engagement and hopefully encouraging them to take some sort of action.  

You’ll need to speak clearly and make sure your counterpart/s understand the fundamentals (your name, position and company name), plus what your business does (some form of punchy description of the business, its products and typical clients).

And of course to make that essential good impression you’ll also need to drop in:

  • A short overview of customer outcomes and benefits.
  • An explanation as to why you’re better than your competitors.
  • A reference to your own background and credentials.
  • Maybe some reference clients or case studies.
  • And of course, a quick mention of your mission, passion and how genuine you are about what you do…

And, that’s all within the moment of a brief handshake or introduction. 

So how can you possibly do it? Well, the answer of course is that you can’t possibly. 
It’s impossible to cram all that information into any kind of civilised two-way conversation. Believe me, I’ve seen people try and what results is a desperate, rushed stream of garbled words and mixed messages.

The smarter alternative, that avoids overwhelming your prospect, is – the art of inference! 
Rather than awkwardly rattling off a list of points, instead focus on planting key facts that will project a story about yourself. Give just enough information to allow the person you’re talking with, to infer the rest without the need for a lengthy explanation.

Think about it – Your goal is merely to pique interest. Your pitch is an invitation to talk more, rather than a full audition. You want your prospect to choose to take things further.   

So, with so many opportunities to network over the coming weeks (dare I mention the Christmas season looming upon us?), now is the time to perfect your powers of inference. 

Here are ten thought prompts for developing an introduction that is distinctive and memorable (for all the right reasons):

Do

  • Experiment: Be creative, personalise your pitch to match your audience and don’t be afraid to test different approaches to see what raises interest and prompts further questions.
  • Look for cues and clues: Someone looking over your shoulder, or at their watch, or trying to interrupt you, may be rude but nonetheless is a sign that they are not engaged and your message is falling on deaf ears.
  • Improvise: Know your key messages and be comfortable with your pitch, but don’t try to memorise a script. No one likes to be talked at, use some on the spot improvisation to engage your listener and keep your pitch fresh and relevant.
  • Be Yourself: People are far more receptive to natural behaviour, so smile, relax, make eye contact and be friendly. You want this to be the first conversation, not the last you have with your prospect, so be approachable. 
  • Be proud of what you do: Make them care. Be passionate and take pride in what you offer. Your attitude can be infectious and will leave a lasting impression so keep it positive and upbeat. You don’t want to be remembered for coming across as disinterested, negative or dismissive. 
  • Include some kind of gentle call to action: Whether it’s an invite to meet up for a coffee, or a copy of your free eBook. Make it easy for your listener to take things further and find out more about you. 

Don’t

  • Over-rehearse: It’s important to be confident in what you’re saying, but avoid over-rehearsing your pitch. Your listener will tune out if you sound like a pre-recorded message. Instead, be flexible and adapt to their cues and responses – it is, after all, a two-way interaction.
  • Refer to your competitors: Even if to say how unlike them you are. The focus here is you and your business, not your competitors. Use inference to convey a message about who you are, what you do and why that’s relevant to your prospect. 
  • Shout, lecture or oversell: There’s a fine line between a passion, and in-your-face discomfort, and people don’t want to be excessively preached or sold to in an initial introduction. They will simply raise their defences and think about how to escape.
  • Go on (and on…): Instead, leave them wanting more. Your pitch is a taste of what you have to offer. Avoid lengthy explanations and bombarding your listener with lots of details, these can be discussed later. 

The key to the perfect pitch is simplicity and brevity. Keep it succinct, people don’t like to be over-sold to. No one will retain the detail if you go on too long. They’ll just remember how you made them feel – probably like they wanted to escape.

Want to take your networking to the next level? Download our free e-book ‘The Survival Guide to Networking’ here!

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