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Trapped in the elevator (pitch) and how to escape

It’s been drilled into all of us since the beginning of our careers – you need a great elevator pitch – that succinct little summary of your business that can be shared in the time span of an elevator ride.restaurant-people-feet-legs (1)

First, if you’re pitching your business in an elevator you’re probably trying too hard. Get off the elevator and have a real conversation.

Seriously, though, the elevator pitch sounds simple enough but it’s very easy to get it very wrong. The traditional elevator pitch presents two basic pieces of information:

  • Who you are
  • What you do

“We’re a full-service marketing and PR firm that creates brochures, press releases and websites.” 

The problem with the pitch above is that it starts with the seller and ends with the seller. This rarely engages the other person in a good way.

I like how Ian Altman, the author of “Same Side Selling” has dissected and perfected what he calls the Same Side Pitch. This pitch starts with the buyer’s challenge and ends with the buyer’s success.

Here’s how Altman explains the key elements of the Same Side Pitch.

Pitch Element 1:  “Companies come to us when…”
It’s helpful to the listener to define who you are helping. Individuals or organizations? Local or national? Construction companies? Law firms? Hair stylists?

Then you explain the reason your customers or clients come to you:

  • When they need to attract more customers, more quickly.
  • When they are struggling with client attrition.
  • When they need new office space.

This opening element should not be too gloomy or negative, but it should state a problem that needs fixing.

Pitch Element 2:  “We help them by…”
This is the part where you explain what you do. This is easy, but it’s also the least important part. In fact, too much of the “what” can be distracting and counterproductive.

Your best prospects are not look for new software, consultants, or equipment. They are looking for solutions to problems.

When a prospect does connect with this first part of the Same Side Pitch in the right way, this will prompt questions. And then you can tell them about your brilliant tactics and tools that separate you from the rest of the pack.

Pitch Element 3:  “…so they can…”
This is where you paint the “before” and “after” pictures. The problem has been vividly described in the first part of the Same Side Pitch, and now is your chance to share the compelling vision of life after this problem is eliminated.

This is where the vision is tied back to the problems mentioned in Element 1 above. This is how you help them:

  • Find more customers, more quickly.
  • Retain more customers.
  • Find the right office space.

Here’s a complete Same Side Pitch example from Altman:

“Companies comes to us when they are about to hire a strategic, high-dollar vendor and they want to be sure they don’t end up selecting the wrong vendor and paying too much, as they might have done in the past.”

A strong Same Side Pitch is clear and concise, with a vision. It provides a limited explanation of a problem and an exciting resolution that can provide real help to the right prospects.

Escape the elevator and start giving people the information they want and need.

Have a great week.

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