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Chris Westfall was the guest speaker at my CEO private advisory boards this month.  Chris bills himself as the National Elevator Pitch Champion. He helped my members craft a short branding message to describe what their company does and to “hook” the listener into wanting to hear more.  The average attention span of an adult is eight seconds so you have to grab them quickly.

His first question to all of us was “Who is your ‘Most Important Person?’”  Who is that person or group of persons who you want to hear your message?  For example, my most important person is the CEO who does not know I exist.  What is the message I would say to that person who does not know the benefits that could come to them by participating in a CEO private advisory board?

It’s not about slogans, it’s about solutions. 

Your prospect is thinking, Why you?  Why this?  Why now?  In your message you must suggest what they will experience.  DO NOT tell them everything your company can possibly do for them.  Use “you” to get the prospect involved in the conversation.  And it must be a conversation and not a sales pitch.  A sales pitch is like a data dump where information just keeps coming, most of which is unimportant to the person you are talking to.  When you create a conversation you get the other person involved and they begin to share with you what their needs are.  Now you know exactly what it is your company can do for them.

So start with why.  If you haven’t viewed Simon Sinek’s 18 minute TED talk on “how great leaders inspire action” click on this link:

Stories, stories, stories

Your stories are your brand.  What stories can you relay to the prospect that demonstrates what your product or service can do for them?  Use real examples from your customers.  For example, one of my members will tell anyone who will listen that his Vistage CEO group saved his business.  During the recession he was close to closing his doors.  He engaged his fellow CEOs in a discussion and was encouraged to change the way he did business by demanding large deposits on orders, something that was not done anywhere in his industry.  He didn’t think his prospects would agree and they would go to one of his competitors.  He assumed wrong, they did agree and he just finished the best year in his company’s history.  Tell stories.

Framing The Conversation

Chris suggests framing the conversation by using one of the following sentence beginnings:

  •        Have you ever noticed…
  •        You know how…
  •        I’ll never forget the time when…
  •        Doesn’t it seem like…


Complete your message, whether given verbally or on your website, with an invitation.  What action are you inviting them to take?  Agreeing to set up a meeting where you can talk in more detail?  Calling one of your customers to get their experience?

Spend some time crafting your 60-second elevator pitch to incorporate the points mentioned above.  See if you have better success drawing your prospects into the conversation you would like to have with them.

Consider Reading This

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’’t by Simon Sinek.  The most recent book by the “Start With Why” author explains why trust and cooperation are essential to a healthy environment in your company.  Using true stories he tells how to create a happier and healthier organization.