How to pitch yourself and start conversations with confidence

Tracey HicksSep 6, '18

“No matter what the market is doing, there are people who need my help. Focus on them, ignore the rest. In order to sell homes, you have to talk to people. When the market is difficult you have to talk to more people, more skilfully. Show up.” - Kendyl Young

The quote above was featured in yesterday’s Inman article about the lessons learned from the market crash 10 years ago.

What struck me about this quote, in particular, is the necessity of improving and utilizing our communication skills during a difficult market.

But why wait for a downturn in the market before we sharpen our soft skills (communication, listening, empathy, etc.) and take every opportunity to start conversations about all things real estate?

If talking to more people and doing so more skillfully can get us through the lean times, then why not do it all the time?

Because we aren’t prepared to have conversations.

As Realtors®, we have to assume a growth mindset and seize every opportunity to sell ourselves—in flush times and lean times.

But the problem is, most of us don’t sell ourselves because we don’t have the right words at the right time, we stumble over our words, or we fear how our words will be received.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this problem. It won’t cost you a nickel, either. I’m talking about perfecting and practicing your elevator pitch and starting every conversation with confidence.

What’s an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is an introduction you offer when someone asks: “What do you do for a living?”

A good elevator pitch is:

  • Brief. Typical elevator pitches are 15, 30, or 60 seconds in length, depending on the situation. It’s handy to be prepared no matter how much time you have.
  • Compelling. Don’t ramble, list your credentials, or tell your life story. If your pitch is interesting, you’ll have time to get specific later.
  • Dynamic. People change and so do elevator pitches! Tailor your pitch to your audience. (Example: are you speaking to a colleague or friend of a client?)
  • Focused. Every pitch should focus on one idea you have, one problem you solve, or one promise you make. Muddling is for cocktails—not your message!

Every elevator pitch has three goals

When you approach your elevator pitch with these goals in mind, you’re more likely to engage your audience at a deeper level—because it’s not about you, it’s about them.

Create interest: “Tell me more!”

An elevator pitch an amazing opportunity to sell yourself. And you don’t do that by simply answering with what you do. That’s a conversation ender. You sell yourself by capturing attention, creating interest, and eliciting the response: “Tell me more.” A great way to get that response is by focusing on how working with you will transform the lives of the people you’re speaking with.

Build trust: “That’s me!”

Because elevator pitches are dynamic, your goal is to size up who you’re speaking with and the context of the situation (example: you meet an attendee at your open house) and tailor your response accordingly. Building rapport is a priority and you succeed when you evoke the thought “Yes! That’s me!” Bottom line: you want your audience to understand that you get them.

Show value: “How can you help me?”

It’s important to provide examples of how you can help the person you’re speaking with. Remember, a good elevator pitch isn’t about you—it’s about your audience.

Components of an elevator pitch

Here’s a great way to customize your elevator pitch for 15-, 30-, and 60-second introductions.

If you have 15 seconds

  • Your name and role
    Hi, I’m Kayce and I’m a real estate agent at Inhabit Realty.
  • Your unique awesome proposition
    I help single moms build a secure future by becoming homeowners.
  • One to three things that demonstrate how their life will change
    I coach them on how to get their finances in order, approach house hunting in a tight market, and prioritize essentials so they’re confident about their buying decision.

Put it all together:

Hi, I’m Kayce and I’m a real estate agent at Inhabit Realty. I help single moms build a secure future by becoming homeowners. I coach them on how to get their finances in order, approach house hunting in a tight market, and prioritize essentials so they’re confident about their buying decision.

If you have 30 seconds

Give your 15-second introduction, but provide proof and build your credibility with a story, data, qualifications, or an example.

Handing the keys to someone who never thought she could afford a home of her own is a thrilling experience, and it’s never gotten old, even after 20 years in real estate.

If you have 60 seconds

You’ve got time to show you understand your audience by identifying and empathizing with their pain or gain point. And the important thing is demonstrating how you can help them.

Here’s how to use your 60 seconds:

  • Your name and role
  • Your unique awesome proposition
  • Name and empathize with the pain or gain point
  • List a few ways you help solve the point
  • End with a call to action

Put it all together:

Hi, I’m Kayce and I’m a real estate agent at Inhabit Realty. I specialize in helping single moms build a secure future by becoming homeowners.

As a single mom myself, I understand what it’s like to be the sole breadwinner and how hard but important it is to provide a stable home for your kids.

I coach my clients on how to get their finances in order, approach house hunting in a tight market, and prioritize essentials so they’re confident about their buying decision.

Handing the keys to someone who never thought she could afford a home of her own is a thrilling experience, and it’s never gotten old, even after 20 years in real estate.

I work with buyers with little, no, or challenged credit history and offer a variety of solutions to help them become financially prepared to buy a home. And I’d be happy to schedule a meeting and find the solution that’s right for you.

How to rock your elevator pitch

  • Practice. A great elevator practice takes a lot of practice so it sounds natural and rolls off your tongue with ease.
  • Smile. Be friendly, open, and conversational.
  • Pause. Don’t forget to take a breath between sentences.
  • Connect. Always carry your business card and offer it at the end of your elevator pitch.
  • How do I know?

    Personal experience. And it literally involves an elevator. Here's my story.

    Our President, Elizabeth Mendenhall, was coming to Portland to speak at our WCR event.

    Here's my chance to let her know about my fantastic company right?! Well, maybe.

    I had to figure out how I was going to pitch her in a planned but organic way. Yes, that's a thing. So I volunteered, as past President of our local chapter, to greet her at the door and take her up to the 7th floor where our meeting was taking place.

    I figured I had ten steps to the elevator to get to know her, and then I had to give her my pitch in the elevator because the door opened right into our meeting room.

    I say, "Hi, how's Portland? How long are you here? Have you had a chance to eat in some of our amazing restaurants yet?" You know, the usual awkward small talk.

    People are gathering around us, and I'm sure a few of them are also going to the meeting. The elevator opens, it's small. Great. People pile in, it's crowded. Great.

    But this is my ONE SHOT, and I'm taking it.

    She turns to me and asks, "How long have you been a Realtor?"

    (YES, perfect segue!)

    "I've been a Realtor for 13 years," I replied, "but I've been inactive for two years because I started a super cool supply store for Realtors."

    Crickets.

    I was panicking. She says, "oh nice." And then more crickets.

    I'm dead in the water; I can't say more now, because it would be weird!

    TWO ladies in the elevator must have smelled my fear because they turned around (almost at the same time) and started in about how awesome All Things Real Estate is, how they love us so much, on and on.

    They saved me, and they had no idea. They were just being themselves. It was so amazing.

    So my advice to you: develop your elevator pitch, practice it over and over and over—even if you have to get in an elevator, punch in the top floor number, and GO!

    Your turn!

    Do you have any tips, experiences, or wisdom to share about elevator pitches? Please share in the comment section below.

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