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Your Elevator Pitch has No Business In an Elevator

Sales Renewal is pleased to host a series of blog posts written by experts in their fields. This week, we’re joined by Andrew Winig, Elevator Pitch Coach and Keynote Speaker, who offers some insights into how to make your next networking opportunity a success.

3 ways to talk about what you do in a way that gets people excited about what you do

It’s no fun being a captive audience.

I’m a kid on a tour bus in Italy on the three hour drive from Rome to the Amalfi Coast. Our tour guide grabs the microphone and tells us a story about a cougar in a kitchen.

If it sounds at all interesting, I can assure you that it wasn’t. In fact, the story didn’t make any sense. Not to a 10-year-old boy, anyway. No one seems surprised by a very large and very dangerous cat in the kitchen. And nothing gets damaged or destroyed.

My brother and I exchange a glance. He puts on his headphones. I concentrate on my book.

And that’s exactly the problem with almost every Elevator Pitch.

It makes perfect sense to the speaker. But the audience nods politely while they scan the room for the nearest exit. There was no such luck on the tour bus. No way out.

And the Elevator Pitch gets its name from this exact kind of environment. The 30-seconds in between floors where the doors are closed and there is no exit.

When you find yourself in that situation, an elevator standing next to someone you really want to talk to,

Please do everyone a favor and do not blurt out some rehearsed 30-second speech.

Because in that situation,

No matter how compelling you think you are,

The other person is still trapped.

It’s a very awkward way to start a relationship.

Instead, say something quick.

Something that gets them to respond.

Once they respond, you’re in a conversation.

It’s much more natural.

Much more engaging.

Much more fun than talking at someone for 30 seconds.

Also, whatever it is you’re trying to sell…

You won’t sell it in the elevator.

Or at the networking event.

Or on the trade show floor.

You sell it later.

At a future conversation.

So just relax.

Get to know people.

Inspire them to want to get to know you better.

Here are three ways to start a conversation that people will look forward to continuing…

1. Talk about the weather

Ok. Maybe not literally about the weather.

But look for an easy and non-threatening topic to get things started.

You don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date.

Even though you both kind of hope that’s where it’s going.

It’s not the first step.

So don’t mention the sale in the first conversation.

Instead, ask them if they had a good weekend.

You’ll learn about their family and what they like to do for fun.

Ask how long it took to get to the event.

You’ll find out where they’re from.

Ask if they come to a lot of these kinds of events.

You’ll learn about their kind of work and their approach to growing their business.

That’s a great way to start conversations.

2. Use seven words

It will happen eventually.

Someone will shake your hand, look you in the eye, and ask you the most dreaded question in all of business networking.

“What do you do”

It’s best to be prepared so you can resist the temptation to tell them in detail about every project you’ve worked on since you were four years old.

Come up with 7 words.

Just 7 words that describe what you do.

Seven words will encourage people to respond with a question or a story.

And remember, you won’t start a conversation with everyone.

It’s perfectly fine to shake their hand, say that you enjoyed meeting them and that you’re going to go continue networking.

When you use 7 words, you get the right people talking.

That’s a great way to start conversations.

3. Follow up

Remember what you learned about them.

Write it down on their card or after the event.

How many kids they have.

Or their favorite hobby.

Or a big event that’s coming up in their life.

Then send them something about them.

Not your brochure.

Or your white paper.

Or the recent article you wrote.

Send them an article from the newspaper about their industry.

Send them a picture of them that you saw in the paper.

Invite them to be your guest at a networking event.

Send them a link about skiing resorts in Salt Lake City, or effective ways to manage a difficult employee, or an e-newsletter about a technique for growing their business.

Follow up about them, and they’ll look forward to taking your call.

And the cougar in the kitchen?

Our tour guide was saying “cooker, ” with an Italian accent.

A chef.

In the kitchen.

If you want to be more memorable.

If you want your marketing to catch the right people’s attention, check out our Marketing Essentials program. It includes two hours of Elevator Pitch coaching where you develop both a conversational and a 30-second Elevator Pitch that will start the right kinds of conversations to grow your business.


Andrew Winig is Your Elevator Pitch Coach. As an entrepreneur and business owner he discovered that business networking success starts with an engaging 30-Second Elevator Pitch. His 10 year journey from cold call salesman to Trusted Advisor inspired him to write the “Elevator Pitch Handbook: The Step-by-Step Guide to Starting Conversations.” Andrew wants you to get better leads from your Elevator Pitch, and shares his unique and effective techniques through email newsletters, webinars, 1-on-1 coaching, and keynote speeches. You can sign up for his weekly Elevator Pitch Tips Email Newsletter at ElevatorPitchTips.com

Sales Renewal’s insight:

As part of Sales Renewal’s series of blog posts written by experts in their fields, Andrew Winig, Elevator Pitch Coach and Keynote Speaker, offers some insights into how to make your next networking opportunity a success and 3 ways to talk about what you do in a way that gets people excited about what you do.