Every week I listen to the Radio 4 show The Bottom Line. It’s a business show in which respected economist and broadcaster Evan Davis interviews three notable business people on a different weekly topic.
At the beginning of the show, Evan always asks his guests to briefly introduce their business.
Almost all of them struggle – often looking uncomfortable and unsure, somewhat rambling, often stuttering and tripping over their words – seemingly finding it hard to summarise what they do as a business in a few words.
After their introduction I often don’t really know what they do; at times I have no idea whatsoever.
For some guests I thought I knew what they did, but their leader’s introduction made me question my belief (which, upon research, often turns out to be correct!).
I believe any business leader should be able to introduce their business in a few short words that clearly explain what they do.
For example, if people ask what we do, I often say that we ‘help businesses to acquire, keep, enjoy and profit from more quality customers (by following a proven 12-step system with guaranteed results)’.
People get what we do perfectly – I am almost never asked ‘so what do you do?’. The next question is generally either (a) so tell me how you do it and (b) that sounds great, how do you guarantee your results?
This is very good news, as within seconds people understand what we do, see the benefit (if they want more quality customers, as most businesses do) and go straight into assessing the specific match with their business.
I have been witness to plenty of presentations and pitches that take 20 minutes or more to get to this point; and some that never do.
Indeed I remember one meeting in which after two hours I still didn’t understand what they did. I asked my colleague who had no idea. We still don’t know…
That’s a problem. The real objective of an introduction is for people to (a) know exactly what you do (and that means the benefits to them, such as more customers) and (b) if that is of interest to them.
If you get A right, and B is there (if it isn’t then move on; you can’t sell to everyone) then you have an immediate ‘in’, as they have a compelling reason to meet you or keep talking to you.
And you are straight into the process of aligning your benefits with the potential customer’s goals and business structure.
This is wonderful: the potential customer is already trying to figure out how they can incorporate you (and your products or services) into their business.
Some people call this introduction an Elevator Pitch; so called as it’s the pitch you would give if you got into a lift with a Bill Gates and only had the 30-second Elevator ride to convince him to buy from you.
Every business should have such a pitch; you would be amazed how useful they are. In fact, I personally prefer a 10-second pitch, that invites a ‘tell me more’ question, which you can follow by a 30-second Elevator pitch, and then you are into the question/ answer period.
Of course, this is to be used at the point of ‘introducing your services’ but this isn’t always at the start of the sales process.
In reality, you have to know when the time is right to present the introduction; but we can’t go into that now (perhaps we will in the future) but you should always be able to deliver without notice an introduction that gets your target market asking ‘tell me more’ questions.
So I’ll see you in the Elevator!