Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida Business
How to create an effective, non-boring business introduction (take two)
I wrote the column below in 2013 and it’s one of my favorites. That’s because the essentials of how to say what you do, clearly and concisely, are key to growing a business and worth reiterating. Plus, the original column received over 300,000 unique page views* (yes, you read that correctly!), so I know this is a hugely important topic and this is helping people.
Yet, we've decided to "reboot" it because some things have changed - and there's a little twist I've added since this was originally published. Read on!
"It’s great to meet you," the smiling stranger says to you at a networking event. As she shakes your hand she says, "Tell me about what you do."
Yikes! Now what?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a single introduction at a networking event or during a phone call was all it took to acquire customers? Well, you can come close by knowing how to grab the attention of people you meet for the first time.
But, an introduction is not a sales pitch. That’s why I don’t like "elevator pitch."
The goal of networking is not to gather sales leads, but to engage in a conversation that starts a solid business relationship. The only purpose of a short introduction is to only create awareness, stimulate engagement, and get to a next step -- for the other person to learn more about how your business can help them.
You only have seconds to get people to care about you and your business. It’s really no different when people land on your website or read one of your brochures or emails.
The best introductions are natural, repeatable, and targeted. Make every word count and give your audience something that will stick with them.
The old, boring and self-centered elevator pitch is dead. Here’s how to create an effective introduction that’ll start a business conversation -- and what to avoid.
Don’t make it all about you. This may sound odd since you’re introducing yourself and obviously have to mention your company. But, it’s not about you, your company, or offering. Do it in a way that’s important to your ideal prospect.
Selling is a sales killer. People tune out when others they’ve just met are too pushy. No one wants to buy your product or service. Instead, they want to know about how you can help them. Plus, you’ll come across as more authentic and as an expert.
Describe outcomes, not your function. Saying that you’re a lawyer, sales manger, or computer repair shop owner allows others to define you based on their past experiences and preconceived ideas. Speak to the unique results you provide by starting with a short statement designed to peak curiosity.
Communicate the key problems you uniquely solve. It’s really important to stress your differences and what separates you from the competition. But, not as a feature of your product or service. Highlight the problems your ideal prospects have that you solve much better than your competition.
Keep it short. When you try to stuff too much into an introduction your message will get muddled. And you’ll lose the attention of your audience. Develop two versions of your message. One for one-to-one business introductions that’s a message of only fifty words, or less, which is about 11 seconds – fewer than 7 seconds is ideal. And another to use when presenting to a group with no more than seventy-five words or about 19 seconds long. Brief and crisp are your friends!
Have a call-to-action. Finish strong. Let people know what the next step is. Invite them to learn more or even ask if they know others who need your product or service.
Flip your message to amaze people. Almost everyone uses the same old, tired format to give their intro. Catch the attention of people by saying what you do with an unexpected twist. First state the big problem with an insight to your ideal buyer’s situation, transition to the hope you can provide (without mentioning your offering), talk about the path to get there, and then add the “what”, which is your product or service.
Most people introduce what they do as the “truth” saying something like, “we offer [X] that solves [Y].” This seems reasonable enough, yet it’s sure to immediately put the listener in defensive mode. That’s because a claim without proof is a big turnoff to our subconscious brain and is not the way to start a conversation.
Instead, try something different. Here’s how you can put all the above points together. “We looked at [the Big Problem] and thought, what if [the Big Idea]. Could you have a way to [the Big Future] by creating a [What You Offer]? That’s what we do” It’s like a mini-story in less than nine seconds that opens the brain to the possibility of a better future.
An introduction like this is structured to rouse curiosity and spur the other person to ask questions such as, "Really, how do you do that?” Now, you have a conversation going!
Be concise. Be memorable. And be crystal clear as to what sandbox you play in.
So, can you tell me about what you do?
* as of August 6, 2018
Ron Stein is founder of More Customers Academy, helping business leaders build strategic messaging and positioning that cuts through the competitive noise to grow revenue. Ron has developed his own highly successful 5-step Stand Out & Sell More approach to winning new customers as a result of his twenty-five years of business development, marketing, and selling experiences. He works with a range of businesses, from startups to large corporations across industries including technology and healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services and banking. Ron conducts workshops, leads company meetings, offers keynote talks, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or by email.