We interviewed André Bélanger, President of Hyperliens, in order to find out the difference between a sales pitch and the “elevator pitch”. Why is it called an elevator pitch? Because that’s the approximate amount of time you spend in an elevator before the doors open and your potential client walks out.
The goal? To get an immediate reaction that will lead to a new contact, or better yet, a meeting to discuss your products and services.
When should you use an elevator pitch?
According to Mr. Bélanger, an elevator pitch can be used in any situation. Think of it as your business card. However, be careful of the way you approach people. You need to wait for the appropriate moment!
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Be strategic: create an opportunity, but don’t force anything. Just like a business card, only deliver your quick pitch when the person is inclined to listen to you and you have their full attention.
How do you prepare your speech?
You have 30 seconds to reveal your best assets. Your pitch should include specific keywords that represent your reality AND meet a clear need your potential client has. Leave out technical terms but use target words so your listener can understand what you are pitching.
Your elevator pitch conveys what you do and whom you do it for. Use powerful, significant words that pique your audience’s curiosity. Your pitch should provoke a reaction!
For instance, when we asked André Bélanger what he does, he replies, “We can help you accelerate the digital innovation process.” He relies on three key words: accelerate, process, and innovation. The rest of his elevator pitch will define what this opening sentence means and focus on initiating a conversation to provide more information.
Whom is the elevator pitch for?
Mr. Bélanger says that knowing your company inside out is essential to writing a good pitch. But you also have to know whom to share it with, who is prone to viewing your product or service as an opportunity. For example, Hyperliens mentions digital innovation. A human resources manager might not be their target audience.
How do you know if you are speaking to the right person? Listen! Gauge the conversations and learn more about other people. Have them talk about themselves. If you have targeted the right contact, they’ll show an interest in what you do sooner or later.
Keep in mind that when speaking to executives, you’re more likely to succeed with a succinct 30-second pitch than with a 3-minutes sales pitch. They’re used to hearing all kinds of pitches and are a lot less open to this kind of speech.
A few tips to get to the next step
Keep in mind that the goal of an elevator pitch is to provoke a reaction, have your listener ask a question, and foster an interest that leads to a conversation. To do so, keep these tips in mind:
- Make it a habit of asking your listener to connect on LinkedIn. You can even do so after your conversation and offer to contact them within 24 to 48 hours to schedule a call or a meeting.
- Practice your elevator pitch so it becomes second nature and you can tailor it to the person with whom you are speaking.
- Focus on what you can do for the listener instead of what you do in your company.
- Show an interest in your listener, show off your best side, and use a bit of humour in your conversation in order to help your audience keep an open mind and create a relaxed climate of discussion.
- Avoid the “sales” speech at all costs.
Mr. Bélanger’s final tip: even though the elevator pitch is by definition a quick speech, never use it if you are short on time. You might make it useless. Also keep in mind that it sometimes takes five or six meetings before the person finally asks you a question.