Developing a Sales Pitch or Elevator Pitch
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Successful networking requires having a concise, memorable answer to the question, "What do you do?" An ad-libbed response is like giving a valuable contact your name and phone number scrawled across the back of a napkin. Just as you have professional business cards at the ready, you should also have a brief and professional explanation of what you do.

This description of your business and what you do is commonly referred to as an "elevator pitch" because it can be delivered in the amount of time you share an elevator ride with someone. Follow these five steps to develop the kind of sales pitch that gets your listener to ask you for your business card:

1. Keep it simple

Describe what your company does in as few words as possible. You want your description to be easy to understand — so avoid jargon — but be specific and, ideally, include a benefit. For example, instead of saying, "We sell maternity wear," you might say, "We sell fashionable maternity wear so expectant moms can continue to look good. It can be helpful to have a comparison, such as, "We're like a department store, but just for expectant moms."

2. Add detail

Be prepared to add more "color" to your very brief description if your listener asks you to tell them more. Explain what makes your company unique. If they are interested, explain what motivated you to start your business. Tell an anecdote about how you helped a customer solve a problem, such as, "We retooled their marketing program, and their sales increased 25 percent."

3. Consider your audience

Be prepared with different versions of your sales pitch for different people, such as prospective clients, employees, business colleagues or investors. You may want to have one intro for listeners who are familiar with your industry and a more simplified version for everyone else.

4. Practice, practice, practice

Practice giving your sales pitch to a colleague or friend, and then polish the unclear or rough spots. You may also benefit from recording it and playing it back. The way you deliver your pitch is as important as what you say. Do you sound sincere and confident? Are you enthusiastic? Let your passion shine through when you speak. For inspiration, tap into the excitement you felt when you started the business. For extra energy, use action verbs such as build, create or protect.

5. Build rapport

Take a sincere interest in your audience. Listen actively and be interested in what they say, and tailor your comments to match their concerns. Stay alert to their cues. If their interest seems to waver, bring them back in with a question. Be guided by their responses or body language in expanding or abridging your story. Modify your pitch over time as your business grows and changes. Soon, you'll be ready and waiting for that question.

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This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and irs.gov for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.