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Respect the Process, Part 2: Building the Perfect Elevator Pitch

When January 2016 hit, we made ready for you12 reachable New Year’s resolutions— you know, just in case yours weren’t working out so well . . .

However, as we indicated in that prior post, lasting change doesn’t come from paying attention to your processes one day, or even one month, out of the year. The highest levels of professionalism and efficiency can only be achieved through the establishment of, and reliance upon, effective processes. The development of processes implicates change on at least two levels: you have to knowwhattools you need to apply, and you have to knowhowto apply them. So, when you are considering building processes for your law firm, it pays to think of that endeavor as if you were buildinga little house. The foundation (the tools) come first, and must represent a solid base; the workflows, that you build on top of those tools, however, have to be livable — you have to be able to work within them on a daily basis, comfortably. Throughout the course of this short, four-part series, which will address the creation and maintenance of workflows, we’ll give you the tools you need to succeed, and explain how to use them.

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Imagine, if you will, that you’ve stepped into an elevator with your perfect client, and you only have two floors to sell her on your business model.What would you say? Would you stumble over your words, aimless. Or, would you be able to cop a pat response, that will impress this person, and nudge her down the line of conversion. The latter reality can be yours.

Here, basically, is what you need to do:

Get a niche.

(If you don’t already have a niche practice,settle on one. No one is buying what you’re selling unless you can convince them that you have a specific expertise. It’s infinitely harder for a lawyers to sell a general practice than it is to pitch a niche practice. Think about it: If a potential client wants an estate plan, the more compelling version of events is the one in which you can confidently say that, ‘yes, that’s what I do’, instead of, ‘I handle a number of different matters, and estate planning is one of them’. Consumers, especially those in higher income areas, tend to avoid generalists, in favor of specialists.)

Get shorty.

(Time is of the essence when it comes to elevator speeches. The whole point here is to be quick. (Being pithy, being engaging, resonating — that’s all essentially important, too: After all, you’ve got to be compelling enough to convince someone you just met to believe in you . . . in 30 seconds or less.) Break out the stopwatch. See if you can actually keep it to 30 seconds, without talking too fast. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.)

Get in some practice time.

(Certainly, it’s not just a matter of timing; you need to be smooth. (So long as you don’t rely on a robotic cadence, memorizing your elevator pitch is probably optimal.) But, it’s not just about the words. How do youlookwhen you say the words?What do you do with your hands? If you’re trying to make a visceral connection with someone, you need to know how you look doing it.Practice in front of a mirror, until you get it right.)

Get real.

(This isa catch and release situation. If you have success in delivering your elevator pitch (maybe even before you finish), you have to be ready to disengage, if necessary. If your target wants to talk about something else, oblige. The best-kept secret about networking is that the conversationalwayscomes back around to what you do for a living; at that point, your opportunity returns to you, and you haven’t been looking too opportunistic in the meantime.)

Go out on a high note.

(In 30 seconds, you’re planting a seed, notwatching the tree grow. So, keep in mind that your elevator pitch is only the initial foray in what is a longer sales process. Now, that does not mean that you can’t grease the skids to the next stage. Before you disengage from your prospect, attach a ‘call to action’ — suggest a next step: ‘Let’s see about having coffee soon’; ‘I’ll email you with some further information’. One-time interactions must morph into next-time interactions, by the time you’re done . . . or, you’re done.)

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Know your audience. In practice, you’ve figured out the different types of marketing contacts you encounter. Create specific elevator pitches for each of them. What you say to a potential client is going to be different from what you say to a referral source.

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