I was at an event not too long ago, talking to a woman and asked her what she did. She laid her elevator pitch on me. I pressed her further on what it meant.
“So exactly what is a ….?” To which she repeated her elevator pitch to me.
“Yes, but what does that entail?” Again, she gave me a reiteration of her elevator pitch. It was obvious my questioning, which was really just curiosity, was making her uncomfortable. She wasn’t able to articulate her services beyond her elevator pitch. She was beginning to sound like a parrot and if I was a potential client, she wasn’t instilling a lot of trust in me. She couldn’t even explain to me what her title meant. I was distracted by another person joining our circle and she took that opportunity to get as far away from me as possible.
Everyone tells you to have an elevator pitch but if you really want to have a meaningful conversation, arouse curiosity and interest and not sound like a desperate used car salesperson, you need to quit telling people what you do and show them. Engage them.
Here’s an example of a conversation I had at a recent event:
Fellow attendee (FA): “So what do you do?”
Me (M):”I’m the Entrepreneur’s Midwife.”
Brief pause here. I’ve called myself a career coach, business coach, entrepreneur coach, etc. I can see their eyes glaze over and the conversation stops COLD. Not what you want. I came up with the Entrepreneur’s Midwife because midwife is a good analogy for what I do – help bring your vision to life – and it also arouses curiosity, enough to keep the conversation going.
FA:”I used a midwife for my second child. Do you know so-and-so?”
M: “I’m not that kind of midwife. I’m an Entrepreneur’s midwife.”
FA: “What’s that?”
M: “Let me ask you a question – Do you love your job?”
FA: “Yeah, I like my job.”
M: “So if you won the lottery you’d continue doing what you’re doing?”
FA: “Oh Hell no!” (Laughs)
M: “What would you do then?”
FA:”I’d pay off my bills, get a swimming pool and buy a Porsche.”
M: “Those are things you’d have. What would you do?”
FA: “I’d take a vacation.”
M:” Let’s fast forward a bit. You’ve won the lottery and you’ve taken some time off to decompress, pay off your bills and buy some toys. What would you do with all this free time now that you didn’t have to worry about a paycheck? What are you passionate about?”
FA: (thinks for a bit) “I love dogs. I would start a no-kill shelter, buy a couple of acres they could run around on. There would be an on-site vet. OH! Maybe I’d set up a visiting dog program for nursing homes or children’s hospitals.” (She’s really getting into it, as she starts talking faster, letting the ideas fly).
M: “Now you got the idea!”
FA: “Of course I would take cats too! And maybe retired circus animals? Give them the chance to spend the rest of their days roaming free instead of penned up and performing.”
M:”Why aren’t you doing this now?”
FA: “Because I haven’t won the lottery!”
M: “Well, as an Entrepreneur’s midwife, I help you expose and remove your ingrained and subconscious self-limiting beliefs, thoughts and habits, such as you need to win the lottery, and adopt a mindset that frees you to pursue your no-kill animal shelter.
One of the top five regrets of the dying is they wish they had to courage to live a life true to themselves, not what others wanted. We are all here to expand and grow into our purpose, whatever we decide that is, but most people shrink, settle for less and stagnate.
Do you feel like you’re growing or do you feel stagnate?”
FA: “The only thing that’s been growing on me is my waistline…”
M: “Les Brown said the richest place on earth was the cemetery because it’s full of unfulfilled dreams – books that were never written, songs that were never sung, business ideas that were never realized. I don’t buy into the ‘life’s a bitch and then you die’ philosophy. We are creators and our biggest creation is our life, that’s why I specifically work with women who want to start a business. Entrepreneurship is more than just building a business, it’s about who we become in the process. At its heart, it’s about creating your life on your terms.
Once you accept and truly believe that what you want is valid and doable by clearing out false beliefs, I have a system that takes you through all the steps to make your dream a viable business.”
After she asked me what an Entrepreneur’s Midwife was, I could have simply said “I help female entrepreneurs bring their vision to life and life to their business.” The conversation would probably have ended there. She could have thought “that’s great, but what does it have to do with me?”
I made it about her, not about me. I asked her to tap into her imagination, connect with and get excited about her dreams. When she came up with her excuse (“I haven’t won the lottery”), I pointed out an alternate reality – her dream was not only possible, but with my system, probable, not some pie-in-the-sky fantasy.
I didn’t belittle her dream, I encouraged it! As Carrie Green says in her book She Means Business
“…there was a light that had been switched on, the knowing had entered their lives…”
Once you know, you can never un-know. I had sparked her desire. Whether she would pursue it or not was up to her.
That’s the power of showing over telling!
After the event she came up to me and asked for a business card.