Have you ever met someone and right from the start all they do is talk about themselves? How annoying is that? You don’t even ask them a question, they just start talking… and talking… and talking… all about them and what they do and everything that is important to them. I would bet that you’re not likely to talk to them again, are you?

I hate to tell you, but your potential clients probably feel this way about you.

When you first meet a potential client, you should have something to say. Commonly called the “elevator pitch”, it’s crucial to starting the relationship with your client on the right foot.

If you think of this as a relationship then the elevator pitch is just the introduction. And being so, it is important that you DON’T JUST TALK ABOUT YOURSELF in the beginning. They don’t want to hear it and they don’t really care.

The client doesn’t care about you or your services, at least not yet. They care about their problems. So what if you are a consultant or marketing guru, how does that specifically help them? So what if you have “world class service” or “assist small business with outsourced marketing solutions”? What does that really mean to them? Those things are ALL about YOU!

The trick is to think about the client in front of you. Think about their story. A story is a character who has a problem which creates a desire, and then he or she overcomes obstacles to get that desire. Find their story’s problem and use that as the base for your pitch. What do they lack in their life that causes them to want to something? Or, what problem does your product solve and how does their life FEEL without your solution?

Once you have figured out their specific problem, now you have to overcome their unconscious blindness. This is the same reflex that helps everyone “bleep” of over commercials or read a billboard and instantly forget what what we saw. We saw them but didn’t really SEE them. Our brains are designed to filter out information we deem as un-extraordinary or useless.

People can do the same thing with your pitch. When you tell them what you do for a living, do people say “That’s interesting, tell me more?” or “Really! How do you do that?”

They should. That’s the whole point isn’t it? To build curiosity and open up more dialogue? If all the client says is “That’s nice” or “Oh, that’s interesting” and they do not follow up with a question, then you have lost.

Problems are the focus, but the proper analogy, or story, will shine the spotlight on those problems and overcome the client’s blindness.

For example, when someone asks me what I do, I tell them that I “un-wrinkle christian business men.” Invariably I get the same quizzical look and the question, “What do you mean?” My answer provoked curiosity and continued the conversation.

Then I extend the analogy by showing that Christian men who own their own businesses are treated by their churches like a cheap wrinkled suit, only acknowledged when they are direly needed. I show these men how to “un-wrinkle” their lives and business so that they can use all the talent and skill God gave them to use.

I create a story that resonates. It gets attention because it is a specific problem that a specific audience understands. So:

1) Really know who you are talking to or want to talk to.

2) Understand their story, including the problems that propel or stall their story.

3) Develop an analogy that shows their problem, how it affects them, and briefly how you help.

4) ALWAYS lead with their story’s problem.

This is just the beginning of the conversation, but at least you will be on the right foot. That counts for a lot in a relationship.