THE BLOG
06/30/2014 04:34 pm ET Updated Aug 30, 2014

Elevator Pitches Drive Me Crazy

I guarantee you will increase your business if you clearly communicate what you do. The problem is that most people don't, wasting their time and energy unknowingly.

The key to connecting people is sitting down with them, one-on-one, to have a deeper conversation. With a great elevator pitch, you can open the door to more of these interactions.

If you offer a unique product or service (known as a "one-off"), you hold a distinct advantage in being remembered. Bruce Zutler is someone who offers a unique service that I refer to all the time. If you're developing a product, service, technology or any type of intellectual property (IP), Bruce can determine if the business will be profitable, before prototypes are created. It's an invaluable service that most people are unaware of, and he can work with anyone, anywhere in the world.

Unfortunately, unlike Bruce, most of us have a lot of competition. If you're selling copiers, legal or financial services, insurance, office furniture -- what is your differentiator? If you don't think you have one, think again. You are what is different and you need to verbalize that succinctly.

Using myself as an example, I don't identify as a commercial real estate broker. I say, "I work with startups, law firms and small businesses in NYC to find them the perfect office space, guiding and protecting them from start to finish and my services are paid for by the landlord." This tells the listener who my target audience is, demographic area, my niche and something they may not know.

If I simply said, "I'm a commercial real estate broker," the usual response is, "Oh, yeah, I know a ton of them" -- and I'm completely disregarded. Be memorable and specific and give someone the ability to start a conversation because what you do is presented differently. You've also enabled them to talk about you more memorably to increase future introductions.

Presenting a subset of what you do allows you to be easily remembered, yet doesn't necessarily pigeonhole you. If someone knows, likes and trusts you, they'll ask if you work in other areas where they have a need.

What drives me crazy is an elevator pitch using buzz words, industry terminology, acronyms and stock phrases, or you describe every single aspect of what you do. Don't make your listener have to think -- this is all about clarity.

Are you using the word "C-Suite?" Drop it. "Cutting-edge, portfolio of products/services, state-of-the-art, Big Data, the cloud, MVP, ROI, holistic approach, paradigm or crowdfunding?" Replace them all with something more easily understood. It doesn't mean these words aren't appropriate to describe your business or service, but you need to simplify the message to the average person.

A very effective way to create a concise message is to build a CART. CART stands for "Challenge, Action, Result, Testimonial" and can benefit your business in multiple ways. Use a successful transaction and identify what challenge your customer presented. Then describe the action you took to solve the challenge. The result is the outcome, based on the action. To bring it all together, the customer's testimonial will validate your work as a third-party trusted source.

CARTs can be produced as a one-page summary on your website, social media as well as press releases to paint a story of your differentiation in action. These examples will help you create substance and consistency in your message from the elevator pitch to the presentation.

The last pet peeve I'd like to address is how you sound. In our global economy, you may have the best product in the world but if your accent is so thick that you're not understood, why bother? Likewise, if you talk fast, mumble or whisper, people will nod their heads and smile but they can't "know, like and trust you" because they didn't understand you.

Every smartphone has an app that allows you to record yourself. Sit down, give your pitch and play it back. How does it sound? Better yet, ask someone else to listen and give their honest reaction to what they heard.

For foreign accents, companies like Better Speech Now specialize in accent reduction which will raise your confidence level and sales performance. For fast and low talkers, watch the facial expressions and body language of your audience. If they're leaning forward, speak up. If their brows are furrowed, slow down.

Just because we all have the ability to speak, doesn't mean we do it well. Are you unsure if you're clearly communicating your message? Post your elevator pitch in the comment section below and I'll be happy to give you my feedback (as will the rest of the readers.)

How do you know when you've succeeded? When you hear, "I have someone I need to introduce you to" -- that's music to my ears.