Do you sweat over a simple enquiry as to what you do for a living? You know your business “story” will influence the connection you make with potential customers, suppliers, funders and more. And you know your response could result in a promising business lead. But you’re just not sure how to hold your prospects’ attention and impress them enough so that they ask for more.
Start by realising that nobody listens to hard-sell sales pitches; particularly not from someone they’ve just met. Yes, you’re passionate about your project, but your prospects are more interested in how you can solve their pain than your excitement about your product or service.
An inspiring 30-second pitch is crucial for the health of your business. That first meeting is more than just a chance to pitch; it is about creating a great first impression and establishing a connection that will help you turn this social meeting into a business opportunity at some point down the line. Here are a few simple steps you can follow to make your pitch work:
STEP 1: Figure out your niche
As a small business owner you want to attract as wide an audience as possible because you’ll get more customers this way, right? Wrong. By trying to be all things to all people you dilute what makes you special. Your customers want to do business with someone who understands their specific problem and can provide a tailor-made solution.
It’s time to carefully craft a sentence – just one – that describes who you are and what you do for your customers. For example:
- I photograph brides that are into having fun at their wedding.
- Marketers use our software to generate more leads.
- We help businesses lower their IT costs.
- We recruit auditing staff for owner-managed businesses.
When you position your business in this way, you will be able to assess whether or not the prospect is interested in what you have to say. If they’re not interested, the person is not a potential customer. Walk away. If, however, they show some interest, move on to Step 2.
STEP 2: Pinpoint your prospect’s problem
Every potential customer has a pain point. By identifying their pain, you will be in a better position to provide a solution. For example:
- It’s hard to have fun in front of a camera when you’re shy.
- The risky thing about marketing is that half of it works, and half of it doesn’t.
- Businesses are often locked in to expensive IT contracts.
- Finding the right staff for the business culture can often be tricky.
You want your prospects to realise that your business or service can solve their pain. To do this ask yourself:
→ What pressing problem do you solve?
→ What pain do you remove?
→ What pleasure do you create?
→ What freedom do you permit?
→ What connections do you allow?
STEP 3: Show how you can solve their pain
Now it’s time to show how you can solve your prospects’ pain if they bring you on board. This is not about your credentials – your qualifications, achievements, or how long you’ve been in business. Nor is it a catalogue of your services. Credentials and catalogues say nothing about what people want or care about. They care about outcomes and results.
In other words, they want to know the benefits you offer them; not what you do, but the value you provide. For example:
- I show the brides their best positions and poses and we practice days before the wedding.
- We test and measure our lead generation techniques every step of the way.
- We have a huge network of IT vendors which gives us fantastic negotiating power.
- We run a very unique and accurate personality profiling system.
STEP 4: Add a promise
Round it off with a flourish. Give them the cherry on top:
- The result is fun, relaxed, authentic photographs of the bride on her happy day.
- By using our marketing software we guarantee an increase in leads or we give you your money back.
- We can prove that you’ll increase your ROI in a few short months.
- With us you get happy, productive staff.
STEP 5: Make conversation
Assuming there are still signs of interest, now’s a good chance to ask an open-ended question to find out if the person you’ve just met is really a potential customer, or if they’re just being polite. You might say something like:
Out of interest, what are your main concerns in these areas?
You seem curious. How does your business handle this kind of problem?
Sometimes we become so focused on how to answer the questions ourselves that we forget to actually make conversation. For this reason, never consider the other person “your audience”. Engage with them and ask them a few questions to stimulate a two-way flow of information.
STEP 6: Ask for a meeting
Now’s the time to ask for a meeting to discuss the matter in more detail. Some ideas on how to ask: If we really could create the relaxed, happy bride/increase your marketing leads/improve your ROI/place your next vacancy what would your thoughts be on having an initial conversation with us to hear more? What’s the best way to get time in your diary?
It’s that simple. No sales pitch, just a regular conversation with intention.
If you’re uncertain of your value, you have a huge stumbling block. Until you are able to speak confidently about what you have to offer, the world has no reason to want to buy from you. Nobody else gets up in the morning to sell you; you’re the only person with that responsibility.
People and money are drawn to creativity and courage. Creativity and courage come from being passionate about what you do. Being passionate comes from authenticity and truth. With this in mind, answering that dreaded question about what you do for a living becomes an effortless experience – and has the potential to turn a simple conversation into an opportunity to do business.
(As printed in Your Business Magazine Dec/Jan 2013)