“What’s your elevator pitch?”
The lore of the elevator pitch comes from the early days of Hollywood when one would hope to trap an executive in an elevator and ‘pitch.’ The Elevator Pitch is an enduring shorthand that represents the simplest description of what you do.
You need brevity and simplicity… but simplicity alone is not your goal! Your goal is to get the other person to say, “I get it!” or “I want to learn more!”
The Elevator Pitch is dead. What we aim for is Elevator Engagement.
We achieve our goal more effectively and efficiently if we focus on the two-way (engagement) and not the one-way (pitch). Instead of spewing for 20-60 seconds (even if succinct), think about one great question you can ask the other person to get them ENGAGED in a conversation.
At our boot camps we do an exercise to illustrate that you can actually communicate WAYYYY more in 60 seconds by simply asking one or two questions than you can by talking (however concise you may be). It works because:
- In asking a question, you start with the other person’s construct (or gestalt!).
- We become fully engaged when we are talking. So, the simple act of getting the other person to talk changes the level of engagement. (This is Dale Carnegie 101!)
- If you start with a question, you immediately learn what is pertinent and non-pertinent. You can use a short amount of time on relevant information.
- Finally, we can position our work in their words. LISTENING is one of the most powerful selling skills in the world.
Earlier this year we were helping an organization make a neuroscience pitch to a foundation. The executive director was asked to appear before the foundation board and ‘make a pitch’. We had to reprogram her default, one-way pitch, to instead starting with a question to the panel of eight. She simply asked, “Has anyone ever had experience with a stroke, or a family member that’s had a stroke?” The board chair raised his hand and then spent two minutes talking about the importance of neuroscience research. Others jumped in. They were engaged — fully.
The executive director was able to simply build on the conversation. Though she had eight slides prepared, she found she only needed to use three of them (in response to the conversation). The board said it was one of the best pitches they had ever received – that’s because she didn’t pitch; she engaged.
She was awarded the grant!
Nota bene: There are many circles (usually tied to funding communities, e.g., silicon valley and nyc / financial) where a ‘pitch-deck’ is standard affair. Don’t let the ‘pitch deck’ put you in ‘pitch mode.’ As in the neuroscience story, you should focus on engagement. And, of course, we’re partial to the one-page pitch deck!
Here is a deeper explanation of the power of ‘ALTITUDE’ on a visit/presentation:
* Following are notes and thoughts to help you understand this at the conceptual level… as well as how best to USE the ENGAGEMENT TOOL to produce ‘closes’, ‘commitments’ and ‘cash’.
- It grabs their attention! The SIMPLICITY and VISUAL nature of this ‘piece’ is so totally different than most material being used on Visits (which are not designed for one-on-one Presentations!)… that it commands attention! (Most likely, this will be the first and only actual ‘Presentation’ Tool for your organization.)
- It is all about the ‘REAL ESTATE’. (Location, Location, Location) Using the constraint of limited space, the Engagement Tool tries to capture an organization’s IMPACT POINTS and many of the TALKING POINTS necessary to make a great Presentation and, at the same time, provides for meaningful ‘white space’ to allow for emphasis, additions, or clarifications.
- It actually allows for a ‘TRIPLE ASK’!!!
[As opposed to ‘cultivation’, multiple visits and never getting ‘dollars on the table’, much less ‘in the bank’!]
- It is designed at ALTITUDE. (See here for more.)
We have used this ALTITUDE FRAMEWORK as an integral, critical part of our presentation FLOW with hundreds of organizations on thousands of visits. It works.
- Start with, the WHY. Once they’re on board…
- Move to the WHAT. Once they understand …
- It’s on to the HOW. HOW you will execute and HOW they can help.
SHOW. LISTEN. ENGAGE.
We have pioneered the use of a simple, visual ‘ENGAGEMENT TOOL’ to replace your PowerPoint, brochures and existing material.
- The GOAL is a simple, visual ‘TOOL’ (MAP) to help present a powerful CASE for SUPPORT… on a ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ VISIT.
- The PURPOSE of the Engagement Tool is three-fold:
- It is a specific, visual way to ENGAGE the Prospect in CONVERSATION and DIALOGUE. (Thus, ‘Engagement’ Tool vs. ‘Presentation Tool’.)
- It’s a great FRAMEWORK for the VISIT/PRESENTATION.
- It puts the ‘CLOSE’ (HOW YOU CAN HELP) right in front of the Presenter(s) (Sales Team) and the Prospect.
- The STRATEGY with the Engagement Tool is to CONTROL THE FLOW of the Presentation! (Think of it like Linus’ Security Blanket!)
- The ENGAGEMENT TOOL is
- NOT a ‘brochure’!
- NOT meant to be a ‘stand alone’!
- NOT a ‘collateral piece’!
- NOT a text-heavy, small print, multiple-page ‘document’!
Take a few hours to review last year’s RESULTS!
List all of your ‘SOURCES OF REVENUE’… and the COST (EXPENSES) to generate that REVENUE.
|Direct Mail/Annual Fund
(Golf, Gala, etc)
*Be sure to include ALL PERSONNEL COSTS under Indirect Expenses.
(If you want an even bleaker picture, include ‘volunteer hours’!)
The point of this exercise is to reinforce the concept of ENGAGEMENT (VISITS with your best PROSPECTS) as the most cost effective way to generate the most INCOME. You also might use this to review the ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES of your team.
REMEMBER: The GOAL of every Development/Advancement Office is to write a net, net, net check to the IMPACT side of the organization. (The ‘Green’ people help the ‘Blue’ people)
*Warning: It’s pretty easy to run down this list and blow off a number of these with a “We’ve already got this/done this” attitude.
If you’re truly committed to ENGAGEMENT… do these action steps to the best of your organization’s ability, in a timely fashion and as SIMPLY as possible.
1.) SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE!
- Create a clear, concise and compelling MESSAGE… in order to ENGAGE people at the highest level of DIALOGUE… around your VISION and PURPOSE and CAUSE.
2.) BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE!
- What is the VALUE PROPOSITION? What is the CASE FOR SUPPORT? What is the RETURN-ON-INVESTMENT? (‘Both/And’ Left Brain/Right Brain. Logic/Magic. Tangible/Intangible.) What are your PRIORITIES? Your 3 Circles or 3 Buckets?
3.) DO THE MATH!
4.) Create a simple, powerful PRESENTATION… STORY LINE… and ENGAGEMENT TOOL
- Use a Napkin, Vision Card, Map, Engagement Tool, or whatever to provide a FRAMEWORK and FLOW for the VISIT.
- Hope is not a strategy. Selling is not telling…unless it’s a STORY! It is our responsibility to control the FLOW of the visit. The absolute best way to do this is to have some kind of one-on-one ENGAGEMENT TOOL that allows you to move from PURPOSE to PRIORITIES to PLAN… and then PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY to help!!!
- *If you need more help with this, there are examples at www.forimpact.org. You can also contact us directly for specific assistance.
5.) Finalize your MASTER PROSPECT LIST!
- IDENTIFY, PRIORITIZE and STRATEGIZE your best and most QUALIFIED PROSPECTS.
- Your Master Prospect List (MPL) is your top prospects in Descending Order of Importance! The list is fluid and the order will change. However, you need to start out with your best shot at your MPL
- Of critical importance is your TOP 33 (the top 3 plus your next 10 plus your next 20!)
- Once you have IDENTIFIED and PRIORITIZED these prospects, you need to STRATEGIZE each prospect in Descending Order of Importance.
- *For much, much, much more on this entire process, see here
6.) SET YOUR GOALS OF ENGAGEMENT!
- These goals need to be SPECIFIC, WRITTEN and MEASURABLE. Here are 3 Examples:
- The ‘33 GIFTS’ Plan. (Example)
- We will ENGAGE with our TOP 50 PROSPECTS in order to generate 33 COMMITMENTS, which will provide 90% of our funding needs!
- This will be a SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY.
- E.g. We will generate $5 Million from:
- The ‘Spartan 300’ Plan. (Example)
- We will ENGAGE with our BEST 300 prospects (including our Top 33), which will generate bags and buckets of money to Fund Our Vision.
- E.g. We have (3) members of our SALES TEAM, and we will collectively make 30 VISITS (ENGAGEMENTS) a month for 10 months (using August and December for R&R).
- We will use a 3x3x3 goal which challenges us to collectively make 3 visits a day, 3 days a week, 3 weeks out of the month.
- The ‘1,000 ENGAGEMENT’ Plan. (Example)
- As a larger For Impact organization with 6 committed Relationship Managers, we will make 1,000 VISITS/PRESENTATIONS this year.
- Each of our 6 Relationship Managers will have a Portfolio of 300 Qualified Prospects. Each of us will make 167 VISITS/PRESENTATIONS (ENGAGEMENTS) this year.
- We will average 15 QUALITY VISITS a month and do all of the appropriate preparation, predisposition and follow-up.
- We will do ‘DISCOVERY’ on every visit and with every prospect. We also commit to make the FULL PRESENTATION around the TRIPLE ASK for TODAY, TOMORROW and FOREVER (Annual Operations, Campaign Priorities and a Legacy/Planned Gift.)
- *20% of these 167 visits will become our TOP 33 gifts for each Relationship Manager.
7.) Commit to better PREDISPOSITION.
“I can’t get a visit.”
“They haven’t returned my call.”
“They won’t see me.”
- None of these excuses are acceptable in THIS ENGAGEMENT MODEL.
- Do better PREDISPOSITION to set up the VISIT. Get your best prospects to a MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE… and then FOLLOW-UP!
- You are 3° away from any QUALIFIED PROSPECT! Use your Board, Natural Partners, and WHATEVER IT TAKES!!!
8.) ACT/EXECUTE on this ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY!
- Set up your next month’s visits right now!
- ENGAGEMENT is all about FOCUS and DISCIPLINE and EXECUTION.
- Don’t ‘think’… DO! Once you have your Funding Plan and ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY laid out… EXECUTE! (ACT!)
- Use this ‘Push-Up’ analogy to help reinforce ACTION.
- If you commit to do 10,000 push-ups a year, the SIMPLEST and most SUCCESSFUL way to achieve that goal is to do 30 PUSH-UPS A DAY. (1 set. 3 sets of 10. 2 push-ups an hour the 15 hours you’re awake. Whatever.)
- To reinforce this point even more, let’s say you wanted to do 63,000 push-ups a year. (1,000 push-ups x your age). The SIMPLE EXECUTION is 3 sets of 63 a day…every day.
- The point is that you can’t skip 3 days… or you’re screwed. You can’t wait until June to begin. Nor can you wait until November to make 100 visits (because you’ve only made 3 visits a month up until then).
9.) Commit to SHARING THE STORY and PRESENTING THE OPPORTUNITY!!!
- STOP ‘CULTIVATING’! (Spreading manure on your prospects). Start to SHARE the STORY on every VISIT. PRESENT people the OPPORTUNITY to HELP!!
- Remember: They get more out of helping you than you get from helping them!
- Special, Special Action Note: Start by CHANGING THE WAY YOU TALK!
- CHANGING THE WAY YOU TALK is a proven technique to CHANGE THE WAY YOU ACT and CHANGE YOUR RESULTS.
- THINK Impact, Cause, Philanthropy, Investors, Investment, Presenting Opportunities, Visits, Predisposition, Sales… and, of course, ENGAGEMENT!!!
- *See CHANGE YOUR VOCABULARY
10.) JUST ASK. JUST ASK. JUST ASK.
Here are 10 Action Steps, to help you ENGAGE:
1. SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.
2. BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.
3. DO THE MATH!
4. Create a simple, powerful PRESENTATION… STORY LINE… and ENGAGEMENT TOOL
5. Finalize your MASTER PROSPECT LIST!
6. SET YOUR GOALS OF ENGAGEMENT!
7. COMMIT TO BETTER PREDISPOSITION.
8. ACT/EXECUTE on YOUR ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY!
9. Commit to SHARING THE STORY and PRESENTING THE OPPORTUNITY!!!
10. JUST ASK. JUST ASK. JUST ASK.
1. Get Something On The (Proverbial) ‘TABLE’.
Here’s another of Nick’s ‘BRILLIANT’ ways to make the JUST ASK point:
- Just get SOMETHING on the ‘TABLE’.
- Get the ‘level of engagement’… on the table.
- Get a ‘dollar amount’… on the table.
- Get a ‘priority or project’… on the table.
2. Get a ‘ROADMAP’ to the gift.
- Again, Nick has been using this as a HUGE part of our training and strategy with sales teams.
- Don’t leave the visit without a literal ‘ROADMAP’ to the gift!!!
- “Are you in?” “What can we do to solidify commitment?” “How can we confirm amount?” Etc.
3. Try for a TRIPLE ASK on every visit!
- In our world, the ‘best of the best’ learn how to make a ‘Triple Ask’ tied to Today | Tomorrow | Forever. They use this to answer “How can I help?”… and frame this around Annual Operations, Priority Projects and Legacy.