Uhh…what?! You know, when you’re stuck in the elevator for a few minutes with someone who might look like a prospective client and who (fingers crossed!) asks you what you do. Whether you are in business for yourself or for your employer, you need to come up with a smart and effective answer right away.
Think about what it is you actually do through the lens of your clients’ benefit – what is it you can do FOR THEM? What would they need to know about you and your abilities/activities to understand and be excited about the services you provide? Put yourself in their shoes (what would you want to know, what would grab your attention?) and look at this from their point of view. Then practice. Have your sales pitch ready the same way you have your business card ready. At all times.
When I started out as a freelancer and entrepreneur, I was a bit confused about my identity. My University degree said one thing, and there I was working as something very different. What was I, after all? I had a few unsatisfying experiences, when the right moment would pass and I would miss out on an important chance to make a great first impression. I would either be too curt or go into much unnecessary detail, desperately trying to explain myself.
But that all changed when I decided to take myself seriously and to treat myself as a business. Because that’s what you need to do. Manage yourself as a brand.
I tried experimenting with different things I could say, things that would present my unique selling proposition in a clearly understandable and attractive wrapping, while remaining 100% truthful. It was important to me that this pitch be only 2 sentences long (so that it wouldn’t sound like I’m bragging or monopolizing the conversation) and that I could pronounce it confidently and with poise in several languages. That’s me, I like things clear, vivid and concise.
Ideally, an elevator sales pitch shouldn’t be longer than 20-30 seconds, but it should contain all the important information about you, with a touch of pizzazz. You want to inform and captivate. You want to give people reason to ask another question, and then another, and you want to present yourself as trustworthy and competent at the same time, without sounding too flowery. Most of all, you want to remain true to yourself and to identify fully with your pitch, so that your body language (which usually cannot lie) doesn’t undermine your verbal efforts.
The version I finally came up with and which I am most comfortable with now is: “I’m a marketing professional and a creative linguist and I help localize Corporate Communications for some of the biggest brands in the world. I also deliver market research, language trainings and intercultural coaching. ” So what’s yours?
Think about it over the weekend. Have a nice one!
PS. Many thanks to the Freelancers Union for the inspiration to write this post.