"So, what do you do?"
"Well…you see..it’s a rather complex industry…I do a lot; we have several clients…"
"Oh, I see..." (No; I don't)
It’s amazing the amount of interactions that follow this format, the number of people who can’t clearly explain what it is they do.
Public employees have it easy. Teachers, policemen, and doctors can say one simple word and all will understand (to some degree) what it is they do. Those of you in the business world, especially those whose companies aren't exactly run of the mill, have to provide a much more detailed response to the question.
Though at times a difficult question, this is one you should welcome. It provides you the perfect opportunity to make a pitch for your company. Even if the person you're speaking with doesn't represent your ideal buyer, you never know who they might know who might need your services. That means giving a concise yet memorable answer is important.
Resort to the standard “I’m in sales,” and the conversation ends; launch into a lengthy, fumbling account of your every workplace action and bore your listener to death. Strike a balance and you just may get some business out of your boring wait in line.
An effective pitch is:
When a new acquaintance asks about your job, he’s not bargaining for a 20 minute detail. Most likely, he’s just being polite, easing the awkwardness of your ride up the elevator.
So respond in due time. Aim to make your pitch about one minute in length. Go on much longer and your listener will either a) tune out or b) be forced to get off on his chosen floor.
Chances are your listener isn't in your industry. So steer clear of jargon. Rather than explain you’re a search engine optimization expert who helps digital marketing companies increase organic traffic to their site, simply say “I help businesses get found online”.
Even if your listener is able to sort through your technical talk, you don’t want him to have to. Speak in as plain of terms as possible so that your audience understands immediately what it is you do and can ask questions and continue the conversation with that base of understanding.
Though you do want to have a rehearsed pitch at the ready, it’s important to tailor this pitch to your specific listener. You may be lucky enough to find yourself in line next to an individual who perfectly fits your buyer persona, but many times the stranger who asks what you do won’t be in your target market.
Don’t write this situation off as a lost cause. Instead, re-frame your pitch to interest them. Perhaps the 40 year old man you’re talking to has a teenager who is video game obsessed. By introducing your pitch, “I don’t know if you have kids, but…,” you open up the opportunity to find out.
Though you’ll want to rehearse your pitch, make sure it doesn't sound that way. No one will be intrigued by a monotonous drone. If you’re going to the trouble of making this pitch, you’re probably pretty passionate about your business.
Let that passion show. Enthusiasm is contagious, and the more your listener sees you are jazzed up about your product, the more inclined he’ll be to feel the same.
A pitch is not purely a job description; it’s a push for your business. Don’t go to all the trouble of explaining your job only to exit the conversation immediately after having done so. Seize this opportunity for potential new business.
Business strategist Geri Stengel affirms the importance of ending your pitch as you would any sales effort—with a call to action. Encourage your listener to get in touch with you if he ever needs your services, or invite him to tell his friends about your business.
These 5 tips will help you make the most of face to face interactions with potential clients, and can also be applied to your online marketing efforts.
Just as you should have a company pitch at the ready, so should your website. An “About Us” page on your company site and profile descriptions on each of your social media platforms should introduce your audience to your business in the same way you would a stranger on the elevator—concisely, clearly, and passionately, with an encouraging call to action and a direct approach.
Looking to build a messaging strategy to help your business get found online? Get in touch.