Sales trainers and regular sales people are normally big fans of elevator pitches. They assume that meeting people at random is no different to making a cold call. If you chuck enough mud against a brick wall, some of it might stick! Well I am totally opposed to pitching as a form of networking introduction. I do not believe it is that effective for cold calling either, but that’s another blog!
The idea behind the Elevator Pitch is that you need to get your message across in the time it takes to go up in an elevator. A normal time frame is 30 to 60 seconds or even less. Elevator pitches are fine and I am not suggesting you do not have one. What I am suggesting is that they are designed for elevators and not for networking meetings.
The normal reaction to a thinly disguised sales pitch is that the other person puts up their internal barriers. Not a great way to start a relationship! There may be a chance that you get lucky and generate a lead. More likely the person is thinking that you are not the sort of person they would want to do business with if ever they needed your services OR would feel comfortable to recommend to others. They are probably imagining the grief they would get from their contacts having recommended someone who was more interested in pitching than getting to know them.
Relationships are so important in sales and in generating referrals. Pitching does not assist the relationship process. Rather than a meeting of minds, it is one person pitting their wits against the other. For relationships to work there needs to be some relating going on!
I prefer to help people to develop an introduction rather than a pitch. It is better to have something that assists getting to know each other and deciding on whether you would be happy to meet again. Don’t be cute. Don’t be pushy. Just be relaxed, authentic, and extremely clear. Articulate what you do in a very clear and concise statement and if you have time follow it up with some success stories.
Like most things in sales, if it is respectful and goes with human nature it is likely to be effective. Pitching is not a natural form of communication. Take my advice – when networking, ditch the pitch!