People tend to lose their focus after eight seconds, which is a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Microsoft’s theory is that people’s brains quickly adapt to change, and a weaker attention span could be an effect of using the internet and mobile devices. In the business world, these findings mean you need to work harder and smarter to command the attention of someone you’re pitching. To bust through their eight-second attention span, start by leveraging the power of a conversational pitch that engages your audience and keeps them connected to what you’re saying.
While this sounds like a no brainer, creating a conversational pitch takes some quick thinking and adaptability to get it right. There’s no slideshow presentation and PowerPoint to bail you out when things get tough. Instead, focus on the hallmarks of a great pitch that builds credibility and connection from the opening line.
Your conversational pitch won’t get you very far without some credibility to back it all up. Talk about what you do, not just who you are. For example, skip the opening line about how you’re a human resources manager. Instead, focus on how you recruit tech-savvy candidates with a talent for developing complex networks and systems.
The company you work for can also be a credibility booster. If you’re in relationship marketing and direct sales, look at the success of the company you’re selling for. For example, Amway showcases its credibility in the $11.8 billion in sales, 21,000 employees around the world and 82 million orders processed every year. The company attracts independent sales representatives by talking about the success of its mobile and global workforce that creates financial freedom by selling high-quality products. The company’s customers often become its most passionate salespeople. Learn from this example by winning over customers the same way Amway recruits its independent distributors.
Use a Connection Story
Rely on facts to build credibility, but use a connection story to make it personal and tie it all together. Tell a story that highlights how your product, service or opportunity changed your life or the lives of your employees. Make your story inspiring, but don’t be afraid to discuss some of the hardships you faced. Your audience may be more connected if they hear about how you overcame and succeeded, and your story helps build trustworthiness and admiration. Remember that at the end of the day, your pitch is about you and how you present yourself and your business.
Listen and Engage
Listening to potential customers is essential to a conversational pitch. Find out what their concerns are, their assumptions and any obstacles to saying “yes” to your pitch. Listening also extends to your employees and brand advocates. What are they saying about your product and service? Address any issues or complaints to make your offering even better, or rely on the feedback they’re giving you to weave into your pitch.
Tailor Your Pitch
You’re unlikely to meet customers or investors that want exactly the same thing from your product or service. Tailor your pitch based on their interests and needs. A pitch to someone interested in the convenience your product provides should sound completely different than one for someone who is looking for cost-effectiveness. Your pitches can contain both points, but should be emphasized accordingly.