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Mary Schmidt Marketing Troubleshooter


Idea Pool

When was the last time you closed a deal in an elevator?

Mary Schmidt

Dec 01, 2014

...or even talked to anyone? Mostly we all stare forward, working hard to avoid eye contact. Maybe we do one of the closed mouth Buddha half-smiles as people enter…but that’s pretty much it.  Of course, “elevator pitch” is shorthand for encapsulating your key selling points into a few words of sheer, unforgettable brilliance. Here’s a sanity check for you. In the last meeting where everyone was asked to stand and speak their bit—how many did you remember? Or were you busy obsessing about your bit? Exactly.

“But what I found is that in many situations, an elevator pitch comes across as stilted. It’s as if for 30 seconds a casual, messy conversation between two people is interrupted for the broadcast of a well-crafted commercial. My elevator pitch was fine but using it never felt right.”—Jurgen Appelo, Forget the Elevator Pitch. Try Catchy Hallway Conversation Starters Instead.

And then there’s the endurance test. I once sat through a lunch meeting where every single one of about 125 people (no exaggeration) was asked to stand up and do their bit.  After about number 25, I wanted to commit hari-kari with my butter knife.  Around about number 40, people had pretty much stopped even pretending to pay attention. And, yet, the poor souls continued to stand, sweat, and spiel.  (I was number 65 or so…by that time I didn’t care what I said, let alone if anyone remembered it.)

If you do have to stand up—don’t be afraid to stand out. Say something that’ll get people to follow you out into the hall. (And, if you’re running the meeting, use some common sense.) 

Related posts from the archives:
Forget the Elevator Speech
How Big is Your R? (One-page PDF)
Do You Have White Board Fever?
Presentation Tip: Wear Matching Shoes
“I’m glad they lost your presentation!”
Treat Investors Like Third Graders

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In Start-Up Sanity Checks, Marketing Troubleshooting, Pet Peeves


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Social Media Isn't Free, Easy or Magic.

If one of the self-anointed experts contacts you, pitching magical thinking, ask:

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2. What kind of time will I have to invest? (Social media, properly done, is all about personal relationships. You with your customers...and a good relationship takes time.)

3. How do I integrate social media tools with my current operations? (Your salespeople need to know what you're saying on Facebook. Your customer service process and policies should be consistent across the board, from phone to Twitter.)

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