“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!
A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we will use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!
This week’s theme is: ACT/EXECUTE on YOUR ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY!
A ‘Campaign’ is all about ACTION. The literal translation or definition of a ‘Campaign’ probably has its provenance with Napoleon and War. As any great general or military leader will tell you, success in war is about MASSIVE ACTION – NOW.
We’ve watched hundreds and hundreds of organizations screw around for years trying to figure out what to do, when to do it, where to hold the kickoff, etc. There are great organizations out there who, right now, are still debating the “impact of the economy and the recession,” or “somebody else has kicked off a campaign in our community” or “our donors are tired and maybe we should wait” and on and on. UGH!
CHALLENGE FOR THE DAY: What are the 3 ‘MASSIVE ACTIONS’ that you could take RIGHT NOW that would cause an EXPLOSIVE EXPONENTIAL JUMP or a QUANTUM LEAP for your organization?
WRITE THEM DOWN.
Then, GO DO ‘EM.
You’ve seen or heard Tom and I talk a lot about the importance of ‘on board’ vs. ‘on the board’. In order to really make a transformational leap in your IMPACT and INCOME the kind of thinking and leadership you need will come from individuals that are ‘on board’ with your cause / case…not ‘the whole of the board’.
We’re always encouraging you to find three champions to drive your funding efforts. Again, could be on your board or not on your board but they are always on board.
The BEST on-board champions
- Drive the vision
- Will (read: brute force determination) your project to happen
- See an obstacle as a challenge, not a sign of doom
- Think big and leap head first with a positive ‘can–do’ attitude
- Make this vision a self-fulfilling prophecy
The profile above is that of an ENTREPRENEUR. With all due respect to lawyers, bankers, doctors, etc. they usually don’t fit this profile. They can aid with some of the responsibilities of the board but they’re usually not drivers of the vision.
That may seem like a slam on lawyers, banker and doctors — it’s not. I’ve worked with some very committed and passionate people in those industries. They’re GREAT people and they’ll often tell me, “We just don’t think that way.”
We can spend months and years hoping people will become ENTREPRENEURIAL. It’s a way of thinking that’s either there or not. Don’t try to change people. If they don’t fit this profile keep moving…put your energy and effort into finding someone that does.
Another litmus: You want people that will say ‘this will work because’ not ‘what if?’ or ‘I think we need to worry about”.
The action: Find three people that are ‘on board’ [as champions]… start by looking for ENTREPRENEURS that get your cause. You want people that see the vision, not the obstacles. One great ENTREPRENEURIAL CHAMPION ON BOARD will help ‘outperform’ 20 committed people that don’t fit that profile.
Tom’s Ideal Profile (for every org, for every situation)
Someone who is ready to move from SUCCESS to SIGNIFICANCE!
Someone who has had the ‘Bill Gates-in-the-shower’ epiphany
(“I can’t take all of this with me”).
Somebody who has been very “successful” financially in the
business world and who is now committed to making an IMPACT
on the world.
He or she has already taken care of their family and their own “needs”, as well as their “wants”. There is still plenty left.
Special Note: Taking this a little deeper, my very best Ideal Prospect is someone who has actually moved from STRUGGLE to SUCCESS to SIGNIFICANCE!
For me, that means a Wealthy ENTREPRENEUR!
They know what it’s like to start things… to overcome obstacles… to make a difference. Plus, there’s no “committees”! (They can make a decision.)
This is my “favorite” prospect!
What would it mean to maximize this relationship?
Think about this question.
Use this question to gather information.
Use this question to drive strategy.
It is very different from these questions:
What do you think the prospect will give?
How much should we ask for?
These second questions lead to short-sighted prospect information, under-asking and engagement at the wrong level. We want engagement at the highest possible level.
If you ask your team, “How much do you think Mr. X will give?”
You might get an answer like, “$50,000.”
If you ask, “What would it mean to maximize this relationship? What could Mr. X give if he understood our impact? What could Mr. X give if he loved this vision? What would Mr. X do if he woke up in the morning driven to make this vision happen? If it were his number one priority?”
You might get an answer like, “Anything he wanted to.”
The point? It may not be about a $50,000 gift (think: transaction). Think big. It’s about maximizing the relationship. It’s about that $1M or $5M investment in the vision. These are two different dynamics all together.
As always, I read my Inc. magazine cover to cover as soon as it came.
Adam Hanft (Grist at Inc.com) always has some “good stuff” on the last page of Inc. magazine every month.
THE POWER OF OPPOSITE THINKING is producing “whiplash inducing reversals (that) seem to be occurring on a near daily basis” . Long held positions are being reconsidered with game-changing agility. “That’s a healthy trend for business and the culture at large.”
Hanft gives a number of powerful examples including Microsoft making software compatible with Linux, major television networks subverting their own business model and selling program through the web and on iPods, and IBM selling its computer business to the Chinese company, Lenovo.
A terrific part of his column begins with this question: “When was the last time you considered the impossible?”
Then, this line that every For Impact leader and social entrepreneur needs to hear.
“Think about the ONE and probably HEART STOPPING STRATEGIC TURN you can make in your business (organization) …”
He has a different ending. I would simply say: MAKE IT/TAKE IT … (THE HEART STOPPING STRATEGIC TURN).