An elevator pitch is a segue that takes place within a casual conversation. You might use it when you run into a potential customer at a conference, trade show, or social event. Because your pitch can make or break a sale, later on, you want to keep it simple and conversational.

Follow these steps to perfect your elevator pitch.

Focus on the Benefit

Build your elevator pitch around the benefit the customer receives from purchasing your product/service. Share a clear, concise statement of value. Be action-oriented and outcome-focused. Include clear reference examples, recognizable achievements, and industry validation and awards. Explain who your customers are and what they do. Include the problem they’re facing, how your product helps them, and what their success looks like because they use your product/service. Make the impact to their business-specific and directly relevant. Include a financial metric. For instance, if you sell an inventory control system to help manufacturers keep track of their raw materials, you could say that manufacturers use your system to reduce their inventory costs by 50%. Or, companies hire you to streamline their inventory, saving on average one million dollars.

Point Out the Differentiators

Show what sets apart your company from the competition. There needs to be a reason to buy from you rather than someone else. Strong differentiators include a concrete fact that’s independently measurable. Differentiators aren’t based on claims and opinions and don’t involve emotions, which are irrelevant to the customer. For instance, you might say that your company has a patented method for delivering materials the day they’re needed. Or, your system has the industry record for saving the most money. Include customer examples and personalized, emotional success stories for greater impact.

Avoid the Ask

Don’t try to close the sale by including the ask. Customers don’t spend a significant amount of money without having multiple meetings involving many people. Instead, suggest setting up a fact-finding meeting to assess their needs and decide together how you can meet them. For instance, you can find out the customer’s availability during the following week to see whether you should run some numbers. Or, ask what the best way is to get on the customer’s calendar.

Practice Often

Present your elevator pitch as often as possible. Deliver it to family, friends, colleagues, and others who can provide constructive feedback. Keep in mind that how you say something is as important as what you say. You want to avoid talking too fast, sounding unnatural, or forgetting important elements. Also, you want your conversation to sound smooth and natural. So, monitor your body language, which conveys as much information as your words do.

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