He was full of energy and positive ideas about how he saw his practice area developing over the next 12-18 months: new clients to target, markets for expansion, etc. I listened politely before stopping to ask: ‘OK, let’s say you’re stuck in a lift with a potential client. Sell me your business in less than 30 seconds.’
The words ‘rabbit’ and ‘headlights’ spring to mind. He simply did not have an answer.
This is the essence of that much-feted Americanism, the elevator pitch. Growing in popularity in recent years, it is fast becoming a tool all accountants ought to have up their sleeve.
It can happen any time, any place. You meet someone that might be a referrer, a potential customer or somebody who could network for you on behalf of your firm. But you only have minutes to engage them in such a way that they will want to find out more about your business and the services you offer. Given the short time-frame, you need to let them know briefly what it is you do in a way that arouses their interest and incites them to find out more. If you can’t hook them within that minute then you’ll have missed a huge opportunity.
The key is to focus on the benefit to the client. Say who you work for – your brand is very important and then focus entirely on how your client will benefit from working with you.
Do not dwell on the features of your firm. Using words like ‘help’ are very powerful interest generators. You might say something like ‘I’m an accountant with XYZ firm and my particular expertise is in helping clients minimise their tax liabilities’. You want to generate interest from the other person which allows you to develop the discussion. Avoid jargon.
If you can’t immediately cite how your services will be of direct relevance to that client, then don’t expect them to follow it up. A good pitch will be one that is highly adaptable (and therefore all the more easily tailored to whoever you’re talking to), raises no more than three major points and leaves that potential client with a clear idea of why they should hire your firm.
Next time you walk into the lift and see a City MD twiddling his thumbs, head in with a purpose; your firm’s reputation depends on it.