LET’S FACE IT: Your clients have heard hundreds of pitches. Your challenge is to introduce yourself in a way that creates a powerful first impression in the time span of an elevator ride from top to bottom. It’s no more than 60 seconds.

The biggest mistake you can make in a 60-second pitch is to blah, blah, blah your way through a list of features of your product or service. Clients don’t buy features, they buy benefits. So, you’d better know the answer to the question, “How does what you do help your clients?”

Your elevator pitch should answer three questions. Why you? Why your company? Why now?

Let me give you my version:

Why you? In 20 years of delivering programs on how to behave in business, I’ve learned that people skills outweigh technical skills as the reason a person gets, keeps or moves up in a job.

Why your company? Companies like [ABC International] and [XYZ Corporate] have asked us to work with their staff on business behavior and presentation skills. Universities like [State] and [College] include our programs in their professional development classes.

Why now? People skills are timely. The sooner your staff learns how to improve business communication, the sooner it will build meaningful client relationships and improve your bottom line.

To break that down:

The ‘why you’ opening works well because it gives you credibility (e.g. years of experience, years in business, years of study, etc.). Credibility translates into believability. In my example, you’ve also introduced something they might not know—but would like to know, (e.g. people skills outweigh technical skills.)

The ‘why your company’ tells your prospect that you’ve been there, done that. You’ve given tacit testimonials from other clients or organizations (e.g. ABC International, XYZ Corporation, State University, etc.). You could also give a case study or actual testimonial here that demonstrates the validity of what you do.

The ‘why now’ provokes your client to think, “Who wouldn’t want that?” You’re condensing what you’re proposing into a single sentence. (“The sooner your staff …”)

Write your 60-second pitch out word for word. Practice it. Memorize it so you know it cold. Sound authentic and natural (record yourself so you can hear how you sound).

Your 60-second pitch should sound like you’re saying it for the first time. But really you’re not—you’ve nailed it hundreds of times before.

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