How To Write A Ridiculously Powerful Elevator Pitch (Part Two)

In the last post we looked at putting together the bare bones of your elevator pitch. In today’s post, we are going to look at how you can use the steps you’ve gone through to make some notes for your pitch and also how to make sure your picture is effective. 

Once you have gone through the steps, from asking yourself who you are to including the call to action, you are then ready to put together a pitch. Create a draft for your pitch, making sure that it lasts for around 30 seconds when you speak it aloud. For an easier guide, it’s usually worthwhile thinking about an 80 word limit.

Then, have fun with a mirror or a friend. Just keep going over your pitch again and again. It needs to get to the point where you know it inside out. And the more you practice it in front of a mirror, orl that special friend, the more you will notice parts that need removing or even added to. Just bear in mind that 3 second or 80 word limit. If it goes over either of those boundaries, you are looking at a pitch that is just too long.

Some general tips

It’s actually a good idea to keep things as simple as possible. Your listener won’t want to hear every product you make, or about you. They want to hear how you can solve their problem.

Obviously the person you are pitching to is a warm lead, otherwise you’re wasting your time. Because they are warm you know their pain point. Your elevator pitch should solve the problem. It is as simple as that. And that shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds.

Always leave the listener with your business card or some way of contacting you. You haven’t sold them to death, you’ve just told them how you can solve the problem. If your pitch is good, the interest should be there and they will at least think about calling you. However, if you’ve got no way of telling them your contact details then you’ve just wasted your time.

Perhaps the best tip I can give you is to practice. When I say practice, I mean practice to the point where you are able to say it at the drop of a hat. You should practice so much that you’re sick of saying it. You should practice so much that you’re adding emphasis here and there on certain words that you like saying during the pitch. You should practice it so much that you could say it in your sleep (whatever that means).

Your elevator pitch is an easy and simple way to get someone interested in your business proposition. You don’t know when you’ll get a chance to say it, but if you’re ready, then it could make things happen. Also, there is one more benefit. A good elevator pitch keeps you motivated, and also keeps you aware of what you’re doing and why.

Be proud of your business and what you do. You deserve success. Write a damn good elevator pitch and believe every word of it.

How Can You Warm Up A Cold Call?

Cold calling is something that, if done right, can transform the revenue of your business. A lot of this has to do with the fact that you are able to make contact with many people in a short space of time. In addition, you get to talk to these businesses and establish a human connection. This counts for a lot when you are trying to secure new revenue.

All of the ideas I am presenting here are true and they work in the field.

Benefits make a warm call warmer

One thing that is really important when you’re cold calling is to have a piece of paper nearby that outlines two or three key benefits to your product or service. I am not advocating using a script here by any means, but you should always have two or three key benefits that you can draw on if the call becomes something that turns quickly warm.

If the prospect seems to be interested, you need to start laying the benefits out in front of them. This works a lot better than having a full script that many people read robotically. Even if you practised your script for hours on end, it will always seem like a script. Having just a few points to draw on when you are talking to a prospect that is interested pays off.

Decision makers make cold calls worthwhile

I know that this sounds like it’s really obvious, but it is absolutely vital that you only ever present to the decision maker. This is really easy with a small business prospect, because you will almost always get into touch with the owner before anyone else. In larger businesses, you may have to spend some time trying to find your way to the right person to talk to. It takes considerable persistence with larger businesses.

But persist you must. There is only one person that can actually buy from you and that is the person who makes decisions about how the business is run. While this may be at director level with the larger business, you will still find it difficult to do anything at all unless you’re speaking to somebody who has a budget.

You will be rejected with cold calling. Get over it

Be ready to take rejection. Research has shown that at least 30% of the calls you make will result in people not buying anything from you, no matter what you do. This is not because they don’t like you, they just are not in the mood to buy or they don’t have any need for your product or service. So never, ever take this personally.

Another 30% of people you call will be happy to talk to you and have a nice discussion but they may not necessarily even consider buying your product or service. Again, it takes some skill to work out who these people are, and you usually find out by the second call, after you have sent an email or letter etc.

The last 40% of your sales calls consists of people who are actually going to buy from you. This does not mean they do it immediately, but they will do it if you persist and use all your skills in telemarketing.

Cold calls are just the beginning. If you develop some relationships with skill over time, you will hit that 40% and you will benefit from that 40%.

IBM: Just Features And A Smile

Ask any branding specialist or any marketer for that matter what a brand is and they will start to talk about identity. And that is perfectly correct. Brands are identities. They are belief systems. They are what a company stands for.

They are not selling. But if you head out on Twitter and spend more than five minutes looking at your feed you will see a ton of selling going on. People just love to sell. They may spend a few seconds giving you some news but a few minutes later there are fifty tweets that point right back to their homepage.

That’s selling.

Having a strong brand means you don’t have to sell as much as you used to. Some brands are so strong they just need to open up the doors to make a sale. No benefits required. Just a few features here and there, and a smile.

Think Apple. Think Coca Cola.

Or think IBM in this amazing video. Here, you have a company that has never changed it’s reason for doing what it does, and has never made it’s branding about the products that it sells.

By keeping branding about a set of ideas and a clear approach, IBM has been able to develop a strong public face.

And as a result of branding about the message rather than the product, that branding, in turn, sells more products.

No benefits to sell, just a bunch of features here and there, and a smile.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

How To Write A Ridiculously Powerful Elevator Pitch (Part One)

The elevator pitch is famous. Most small business owners know what it is, and anyone who sells anything better know what it is.

Just in case you don’t, here is a definition:

An elevator pitch is a concise overview of your business. That sells.

And that’s it. That’s my definition by the way.

It’s called an elevator pitch because you’re supposed to be able to pitch that overview in the time it takes to finish an elevator ride. It should be quick, powerful and effective enough that it gets the listener all fired up about your business and what it can do for them.

When you are actually there in front of a prospect delivering your pitch, the goal is to be as concise and clear as possible, while engaging the listener so well that they want to hear more. And it should all take no more than about thirty seconds.

The awesome elevator pitch part

While it is easy to write a mundane elevator pitch, one that simply explains what you do, it’s a little trickier to create one that gets the listener to a point where they are desperate to hear more. And that’s the sticking point for many people who create their own elevator pitch. They focus on spurting out info about how amazing their company is and how it will change the business of the listener in a very specific way.

That is exactly how not to do it. Instead, your goal is to tease, to spark rabid interest. And then to leave it. That way, the prospect follows you out of the elevator and into your office. And that is when sales happen.

So instead of saying ‘I’m a business consultant’, you might say, ‘I help businesses find more clients in a month than they have in a year’.

That’s a hard pitch to ignore right there.

How to write an awesome elevator pitch

Write your draft pitch by jotting down the responses to the following:

  • Who are you? This is a one sentence answer. The job title.
  • What exactly is it that you do? Two sentences here. Take a look at your product listing for inspiration and convey a two sentence summary of what you actually do
  • What problem do you solve? Talk benefits here, not features. Clearly identify the value you offer to clients. Do you save their time? Do you reduce their stress? Do you find them clients?
  • What is your USP? Take a look at your mission statement and work out what your USP is. Don’t be shy here. What is the one thing you do better than your competitors? Why are you memorable?
  • What question are you asking? This one is focused on a question you might ask a client. For example, going back to the business consultant example, you might ask ‘How do you stop yourself from running out of leads?’
  • Give a call to action. Often, this is as simple as asking a prospect to call you.

Then, after you have put together the responses to the above, it’s now time to put the pitch together from your notes. In the next post, we will look at how you do that. Putting all of that information together and getting it locked in your brain could well be the most important thing you do this year for your business.

The Simon & Garfunkel Sales Method

If you have ever stood in front of a team of decision-makers and suddenly froze up, you will know the impact of fear and nerves on the process of selling. Whether it’s sustained business or just a nice commission, there’s always a lot riding on a sale. Sometimes, your self-esteem can take a huge battering if a pitch doesn’t go the way you want it to. In order to connect with your client and make a sale, you have to overcome your fear. Fear can stop you from speaking clearly. Fear can affect your posture, and it can even make you sick. Here are a few tips to conquer any fear or trepidation you have about your pitch that could cause you to blow the sale. It’s time to discover your confidence.

Be the expert

You’re a lot less likely to become nervous if you know exactly what you’re doing. For the best salespeople out there, selling is second nature because they’ve made the effort to become experts. This isn’t just about having the ability to sell, but knowing how to best conduct research into the products and services to answer virtually every question a potential client would have.

Knowing all the subtle nuances of the product will help you put yourself in the shoes of the customer. This will help you determine what they need to hear and what they want to hear.

The Simon and Garfunkel effect

“The Sound of Silence” is a great song. But it’s also a trigger for one of the most exciting aspects of sales presenations.

People who don’t enjoy silence tend to feel like it ‘unnerves’ them When silence happens in sales, it ruins the presentation. Any progress made in the presentation can quickly be forgotten if the salesperson pauses and stammers out of nervousness.

Worse, the prospective customer starts talking and then the salesperson interrupts, like it’s a competition to see who can get the best idea in first.  Be aware that silence is powerful, and is also needed in some parts of the presentation. If there is silence, give it a few beats. It’s not poker, you don’t have to wait it out. But just give it a few seconds. The prospect may actually need the time to think.

Silence needs to happen at some point. Don’t be tempted to jump in and talk ten to the dozen. If you do this, you are giving in to fear. It’s okay if you need a moment to think, but make sure you’re able to improvise. Don’t let fear consume you.

Rehearse it

Your sales mentor may have advised against practicing the pitch in front of the mirror, but there is no better way to make yourself ready for the big moment. The more you rehearse, the more comfortable you will be with speaking slowly and therefore being more engaging and compelling as a salesperson.

No one wants to buy from amateurs, so rehearse it until you’re sitting there at breakfast and you’re able to recite it word for word. It’s kind of linked to knowing the product. Just be in the zone when it comes to what you have to say. However, your presentation most likely won’t be exactly as you rehearsed it. Odds are is that someone will have a question that will divert from your routine, so make sure you have all of the answers prepared.

Breathe

This is a tremendously important part of your presentation. Be conscious of your breath and the process that it both gives and takes away. The more you concentrate on your breathing during any stressful scenario, the calmer you will be. Your brain will get the right amount of oxygen, so your decision-making when it comes to speaking will be better off too.

If you’re stuck for how to breathe for relaxation, keep it as simple as possible:

  • Breathe in slowly, taking in what feels like your full intake of oxygen
  • Hold that breath for two seconds
  • Slowly exhale 

Repeat that ten times before the presentation and you’ll be calmer than you ever thought you could be. Also, remember that if the sale doesn’t go through, the world is not going to end. If you’re prepared, focused, rehearsed and breathing, you should be fine. Get all that right and the loss of the sale won’t be because of a weak pitch.

The One Question That Will Boost Your Sales

The biggest issue with SMEs right now is their Web presence.

Remember about five years ago, when people were going crazy with blogging and websites, talking about how they were the ‘shop front’ or public face of the company, and that they had to be full of great stuff that helped consumers and ‘built’ your brand?

What happened?

People got lazy. A million people (and more) started a business blog. Then that same group of people stopped blogging after a couple of months because they couldn’t see it going anywhere. Millions more started Facebook accounts and Twitter feeds and everything else, all to try and keep that ‘shop front’ up and running, and to build that brand.

They stopped too. Or they started to fill those feeds with updates on going shopping or pictures of funny cats.

Can I help you?

What’s the first question we ask a potential customer if they walk into our selling space, whether it’s an office or a store?

It’s: can I help you?

It’s the first question that makes sense to both the business and the customer, because what else is a business there to do but help? It’s why we exist. At the very basic level, if we can’t help with a solution to a problem, people are not going to be interested in us. That problem could be how to organise a home, how to choose the best bouquet for someone special, or even how to ensure that someone eats well that evening without having to cook.

But so many SMEs are not helping their prospects. They get traffic to their websites all the time, but people show up, look through that legendary shop window, and don’t see any ‘help’. All they see is a business saying ‘me, me, me…’ all the time.

It’s time we started helping again. A business can only add value when it adds value. But I don’t see a lot of that around at the moment. I see businesses talking about themselves, why they’re different, and the long and impressive history they have.

Truth is, no one cares.

All your customer or client will ever care about is what you can do for them. How you can help.

So help. Make your website a resource. A guide. Make it a beacon along the way, that your clients can find, and use to help them meet their own goals and achieve their own dreams.

Throw a ton of free stuff at them. Fire off regular blog posts that help and reassure.

Empower your client.

Help them.

It’s time to get our Web presence back to what it should be. A helpful, empowering symbol of supreme customer service, as well as a powerful sales tool.

Once more then, with feeling…

Can I help you?

How To Master Cold Calling Today

I have recently upped my telemarketing efforts, and it has been a particularly pleasing experience. I’ve found out a few truths about telemarketing, along with some cold calling techniques, that have now given me a strong focus on how to improve results and also improve my overall approach to marketing in general.

Last week I achieved two sales from probably five hours of telemarketing. I hesitate to call it telesales because I generally avoid the full sales approach. That is not to say that, as time goes on, I won’t see the value in employing people to literally sell heavily on the phones.

I spoke to someone this week and we both agreed the telephone as a sales and marketing instrument is far from dead. I am effectively using cold calling techniques when I pick up the phone to do what I do, but there are two clear benefits that make this cold calling attractive to me right now:

  • I can make contact with a large number of prospects, quickly
  • I can talk to them, which allows for real, personal communication

So I like cold calling, if we are going to call it that.

I’ve put together some tips and thoughts on cold calling techniques, stuff I’ve learned over the last few days. Already this is all becoming very apparent to me. Call it insight if you will. Whatever it is, all of the following is true.

Don’t go in hard with cold calling

This is the basis to good cold calling techniques. While you shouldn’t act like a wet blanket, your main aim should be to develop a conversation. Remember that cold calling is an automatic disruption of someone’s day. Be conversational and genuine. Don’t be a salesperson. They died out with the dinosaurs. Be a professional who wants to introduce a professional product or service.

Relax. What you do is amazing. It will find a buyer. So don’t sell it to death. Just talk about it and find your way to the sale naturally.

You will never be able to force a sale. So don’t try.

Use your voice as a cold calling weapon

Your voice is a precision tool. A weapon if you will. It should be part of your raft of successful cold calling techniques. Vary it’s tone and pitch. Slow it down and speed it up. Speak quietly now and then.

I met an accountant the other day who talked just like accountants are supposed to talk. Slow and monotonous. I know, obviously, that not all accountants talk in this way, but if they did they’d be the worst in the world at cold calling.

The prospect expects a loud, fake, formulaic, rushed torrent of insincerity. Change your voice regularly, make them pleasantly surprised.

Key point: 80% of the response a prospect gives is down to the voice you present with, not the words you use, which account for just 20%.

We will look at some other aspects of cold calling techniques soon. The practise is not dying, and people still like to talk.

So get on that phone and talk, professionally, about your amazing product or service. Someone out there is interested in what you do.

Go find them.

How To Build Sales Over The Next Six Months

If you want to increase the amount of sales you make, there are four sound methods that will help to massively boost your overall sales performance. The methods outlined below are not necessarily quick fixes, but they work on building confidence in your product, and building your client list over time. They also work for teams, managers and leaders. And of course, the cold call warriors too.

Build a discovery list

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If you’re in a high pressure environment, this is not something you can do easily. However, if you’re serious about building sales over time, with quality clients, spend less time selling and more time discovering.

First up, basic validation of prospects. After a prospect converts on your website, and they have submitted their email address and therefore become a lead, this is where you can spend time either qualifying them or disqualifying them as prospects. And this is where the discovery approach makes most sense. Spending time at this stage discovering as much as you can about them before you even try to sell is an absolute must.

Use their email address to help you find out where they work and to locate their website. After a good and thorough period of research of their website, you should be able to work out whether or not their needs can be met by your product or service. You’ll also be able to understand the history of the company.

Assuming you feel you can help them, add them to a Discovery list. Keep doing this until you have a list of companies that you know you can help. You’ll also know about pain points, because you’ve spent some time understanding where they come from, and what they need as a company to grow.

The Discovery List is not a traditional lead list. Your first call is all about thanking them for downloading your report or giving you their email. It’s about asking them questions about their latest activity on your site and in their own business. It’s about not even talking about your product. Build a relationship in which they know you may have something that can help them. Then tell them you look forward to talking to them again. Ask if it is okay if you contact them again in the future if there is an article or video you think may help them.

And then that’s it.

The Discovery List contains long-term leads that you anticipate will take months to convert. Be good with that and take that approach forward.

If you discover and nurture just ten large leads in this way, imagine the ROI in the months ahead.

Use The Big G

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Google contains one of the very best ways to boost your sales. If you’re looking for information about any lead, you have a high chance of finding what you want just through Google search.

Even if you don’t know the name of the person you are hoping will become a lead, you can usually find out more about them by Googling their company. Most websites have details of key staff in a company. As soon as you find details about decision makers, Google their names and at some point you will find a way into the company.

A short cut is to literally type in ‘CEO of (company name)’ or ‘Managing Director of (company name)’.

Lead the pack

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One of the biggest reasons B2B leaders hire services and buy products is because they are impressed with them. If you want to be hired or bought from, build up that presence online that tells people ‘this is someone who knows what they are doing’.

Take the time and put in the effort to develop your thoughts and ideas online. If you visit online forums where you can help people and take part in those discussions, you are already on the way to ‘thought leadership‘.

Over time, you will be seen as someone to come to for advice in your area of expertise. If you push this out across all your social media channels and you participate in business communities online, people will think of you and your brand when they’re ready to buy.

Use LinkedIn

With B2B prospects, you can’t go wrong with LinkedIn. Even if you don’t subscribe to Premium, you can still find out a lot of information about prospects by doing a basic search on the platform.

The next time you’re looking at a cold lead, search for them on LinkedIn. Even the weakest profiles have a lot of information on the prospect. It pays to learn more about them and find an angle before you call.

If you spend time getting familiar with LinkedIn and how you can use it to find leads, your ‘muscle’ in this area will grow. Soon, you’ll be fine-tuning it, homing in on qualified leads faster and more effectively. You’ll be part of Groups, finding even more prospects there. You’ll be crafting emails and messages that speak directly to the people who can buy and are in need of your product.

So there we go. The four ideas above are not to be taken lightly. They need discipline and focus. If you waver from daily practice of the above you’ll only slow down.

Stop Selling. Start Building

Why do people use social media? From Twitter to Facebook, there is only one reason:

To express themselves.

Even on LinkedIn, which is a so-called ‘professional social media site’ you see a lot more happening on the personal profiles than you do on the company pages. People are people, and they can’t stop being people. So they express themselves, develop their personalities and show their ‘difference’ through social media.

But how can you market to that?

It’s actually quite simple. Once you know that people are happy to be themselves on social media, you can adapt your marketing to them. You can talk to them.

Sometimes, we forget that social media is meant to be social. This kills our business, slowly. We forget that people use social media to express themselves, display their interests and passions, and establish who they ‘are’. This means they’re not the slightest bit interested in your latest service feature, or the new product you’ve got lined up.

Instead, in the back of their minds as they see your latest update that is supposed to be ‘social’ but is little more than a 140 character sales pitch, they’re thinking:

This is spam. What is in it for me?

You see, the most important person on social media is the user. The profile conveys their uniqueness, and their updates strengthen their difference. Each user is actively telling you what makes them happy, what they want in their life, and how they have got to where they are.

Each user is saying: talk to me, not my wallet.

Heywanna be my friend?

In the real world, if you meet someone new and you are wondering if they could be a good friend or just an acquaintance, what checklist do you use?

  1. Have they similar interests to me?
  2. Are they easy to understand/relate to?
  3. Are they likeable?
  4. Could they help me in any way (tangible or otherwise)?

And that’s the checklist people use on social media. We’re not talking about the ‘empty connections’ that we all make when we’re trying to fill up our follower list on Twitter (don’t say you don’t do this, we all have at least once), but instead the connections that we want to check in on, and perhaps even meet.

If you satisfy the checklist criteria outlined above, people will link up with you. They will listen to what you have to say.

And when you can help them (item 4 on the checklist) they’ll let you know.

Success on social media is never about quantity, but instead about quality. That’s why Seth Godin, one of the most influential marketers in the world, doesn’t use Twitter (he uses a placeholder, or at least he did the last time I checked). He has said that he can’t possibly ‘know’ all those people.

And he’s right.

And you know what? He actually replies personally to every email he gets. I know this because he has replied to mine.

That’s making a connection. That’s talking to someone.

Think about what you’re doing on social (including this platform). Are you actually making real relationships? Or are you trying to build a list that will come back and bite you in the nether regions at some point in the future?

If you run a business, there are only four words you need to think about on social media.

Stop selling. Start building.

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Customers And Value: Is It An Offer They Can’t Refuse?

I’ve been thinking a lot about value recently, and how we create it, or reduce it.

I’ve been trying really hard to keep in touch with customers over the last few days, because I feel that this somehow creates value for them. The service has been sold, and now they are left waiting for results. To hear from me, I think, creates value for them. It’s part of the deal.

I think value is important. And the more I look into the value I think I deliver, the more I realise that I still have work to do. All businesses do. And in these times of financial constraint, offering more value for the price a customer pays is crucial.

So how can we offer more value? What strategies can we put in place to ensure that the customer feels they have experienced good – or great – value for money?

  • One thing you can try and do is talk to your customers, ether literally or through a survey. Ask them directly about value. Ask them what aspects of your offering they enjoy or appreciate, and value the most. Then ensure you deliver on these value-points for all your customers.
  • Work on your pricing. If you set a price for your products and services that seems to offer value in the sense that the cost is sensible, and the customer perceives value after buying the products or services, then they will be willing to pay more. But if they don’t perceive value, they won’t buy anymore, even at a low cost.
  • Always show complete integrity. If you promise that your product and service will bring about a certain result or benefit, it had better do so. The more you do this; the more people will trust you, and perceive value.
  • Call them. Obviously, if you sell millions of products a year, calling each customer is difficult. But emailing them isn’t. Keep in touch and show that they weren’t just a ’sale’, and your customers will feel valued. And their value perception will increase.

Above all, remember that perception of value is perhaps more important than any other aspect of your customer relations. If they don’t feel you are bringing value to them, why should they even consider coming back?

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