How many of us really understand our company to the point where we can establish a connection with someone, learn what they do, and find a way to insert our services into their market, all in about one minute? This elevator pitch, as it’s so appropriately named for its short duration, is a skilled technique that requires mastering your company, services, and market inside and out.
While elevator pitches rarely occur in an elevator, I recently found myself in just that situation! At a Boston College alumni networking event at the Boston College Club yesterday, I had 36 floors to meet my fellow elevator passenger, find out what he did and who he worked for, tell him how my company and I could be of help, and provide him with a means to get in touch with me and me him. Success!
So what makes this so difficult? It’s easy to delve into the reasons your company is a fit for a new client over coffee or a long lunch, but in an elevator, you have to get right to the point, be concise, and make an impact. As brevity is something so many of us struggle with (though thanks to Twitter, many of my emails are now less than 140 characters), I am reminded of Mark Twain’s letter in which he wrote, “I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter.”
Twain had it right – it does take more time to make things short and sweet. But when you suddenly find yourself in an elevator facing a prospective client, time slips right out the window (that is if you’re lucky enough to have windows in your elevator). That’s when your knowledge base and experience comes into play. It is essential to know your company and industry inside and out – so much so that when a new market presents itself, you can be creative enough to see how your company can fit in with it and offer your services in a new way.
Definitely a challenging experience that keeps you on your toes, but a very worthwhile technique to master! And now you know where you can find me on my lunch breaks… riding the elevators, perfecting this skill.