Working to help agencies win new business on a daily basis, one of the toughest things, especially initially, to nail down is overall messaging and part of that being the elevator pitch.
More specifically, concise messaging-that says what the agency does, how they’re different from their competition and how they might help a prospect.
Inevitably, buzz words are invoked, the same language is tossed out (we’re creative/strategic) or agencies get nervous that they’re pigeonholing themselves.
I don’t have to tell you, it can be tough when you’re so close to the agency.
I came across an article this week by Steve W. Martin, originally in the Harvard Business Review, titled Win the Business With This Elevator Pitch that I found helpful.
The elevator pitch is obviously crucial to your new business effort, whether written, meeting a prospect at a conference or I that initial prospecting reach-out. So in that spirit, a two part blog post-
Starting with what you shouldn’t do in an elevator pitch.
Per Steve, the six most common mistakes salespeople make with their elevator pitch:
• They use truisms. They believe their company’s own marketing pitch, which makes claims that are not considered entirely true by the listener. As a result, they instantly lose credibility.
• They describe themselves using buzzwords. They repeat industry buzzwords or, worse yet, use technical buzzwords that are known only within their company.
• They use fillers. They make too much small talk or ask frivolous questions that reduce their stature to the customer.
• They demean themselves or the listener. Their statements turn them into mere salespeople, not business problem solvers. They unintentionally demean the listener by asking impertinent questions or assuming the listener knows exactly what they are talking about.
• They present an unreasonable close. They don’t take into account that they are talking to a senior company leader and use a close that is unrealistic or demands too much of the customer.
• They are incongruent. Their tone, pitch, and tempo of speech don’t match. They speak too fast and their quivering tone broadcasts that they’re scared and nervous.
And I’ll add one of my own:
• Sameism. (I know that’s not a word.) Agencies that describe themselves the same way as every other.
In Steve’s article, he then gives an example of a poor elevator pitch. Since Steve’s post isn’t aimed at agencies, I’ve altered it to apply to agency new business.
Don’t craft your elevator pitch this way:
Hello, prospect. How are you today [filler]? Do you have a moment to talk [filler]? My name is Luke Skywalker and I’m the new business director for The Alderaan Agency. Have you heard of The Alderaan Agency [demeans listener]? Umm…[filler] Well, we’re pioneers [truism] in the SoLoMo space [industry buzzword].We offer fresh thinking with targeted, creative and unique solutions [sameism] and have a proprietary process, extended-hybrid implementation identity programming methodology [technical buzzword] that pushes the boundaries of advertising to determine your ultimate goals [sameism]. Do you have time for me to buy you a cup of coffee and hear more about it [unreasonable close]?
Okay, that was a bit over the top, but sadly, not far off given the many agency sites I’ve visited.