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A New Approach to the 30-Second Pitch

Commonly Asked Questions

  • What is the traditional approach to delivering an elevator pitch, and why is it not the most effective?
  • What should be the goal of a thirty-second pitch?
  • What are the key elements of a successful thirty-second pitch?
  • What should be avoided in order to make a thirty-second pitch more effective?

No matter how strategic and proactive you are about marketing and sales, sometimes bluebird opportunities will present themselves. And when they do, advisors need to be ready to capitalize. When that happenstance meeting at a conference, sporting event, or social occasion looks like it could turn into an unexpected chance to do some business - it’s important to be comfortable delivering an effective 30-second pitch. If even a half dozen of those pitches work out in your favor over the course of a year, they can have a significant impact on your business.

Here’s how great practitioners make the most of their thirty seconds in front of an unexpected prospect.

The traditional approach is not the most effective

For years advisors have been told that an effective elevator pitch describes what you do and highlights how you are different than your competitors. And a well-prepared advisor would have plenty of examples to back-up what they are saying.

It’s a good theoretical approach, but the success rate of this method is low. It works maybe three or four times out of ten.

Rethink the goal of the pitch

Since you’re not likely to make a sale in a thirty-second pitch, don’t make that your objective when talking to a prospect. Instead, focus on what you can effectively accomplish in that time—obtaining a commitment to take the next step. That step may be a face-to-face meeting or a phone call.

When you make advancing to the next step your goal, there’s no need to try to explain everything you do in thirty seconds. In fact, you shouldn’t. You probably don’t know enough about the needs of the person you’re talking to yet. This is where pitches that are too salesy fail. They aren’t targeted to the prospect and miss their mark.

Open with a hook

A thirty-second pitch must be memorable. You only have a limited window to deliver your message and so it needs to be simple and short. Start with a hook. The best way to do this is to leverage the natural curiosity of the person you are talking to and generates questions the prospect will want answered. Keep your description of what you do open-ended— for example, saying you help people reduce or eliminate financial risk, will leave them wondering. Say something that will leave them thinking, “That sounds good, but how does she achieve that? I want to know more.”

Expose the pain

Although you may not yet fully understand the pain points that concern the person you are talking to, it’s still important to create a connection by focusing on risk. In the case of a pitch geared towards scoring a meeting, this can be as simple as making sure to communicate the pain point that your business is designed to solve. For instance, you may use your pitch to touch on financial uncertainty, reducing worry about the future, or keeping families safe. Talking about needs or risks is the best way to engage the listener’s emotions—and emotion drives people to act.

Close with a call to action

Since the whole point of this type of thirty second pitch is to get a meeting, make sure to ask for one. Avoid weak or vague suggestions like “let’s talk,” or “let’s get together,” or “call me.” Instead, ask for clear, immediate and definite action—something like, “I’m free tomorrow at 2, why don’t I call you?”

And that’s it. Resist the urge to keep talking after you’ve asked for the meeting. Even if you’re excited about the potential opportunity, don’t get into talking about solutions. Have confidence in your decision to ask for a meeting and, if you get one, consider that a win.

The last word

When you’ve only got thirty seconds to take a step towards closing new business, follow these steps to delivering a winning pitch. Open with a hook, highlight the pain and include a definite call-to-action. If you keep your focus on getting a call or a meeting, and then following the sales process from there, you’ll find that you’ll turn more chance encounters with prospects into sales.

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