10 Tips for Creating Great Architectural Elevator Pitches
10 Tips for Creating Great Architectural Elevator Pitches
Sometimes, you don’t have the chance to speak to potential clients in depth. Selling architectural services becomes more difficult if you don’t have time. That’s where a great elevator pitch can help.
Imagine this scene. You’re at a networking event where you have the opportunity to meet new people. Each of them could become clients, or could help you to find clients. You’re excited to talk about what you do. So excited, in fact that your first conversation leads to you selling architectural services for 20 minutes.
The new contact looks disinterested and eventually wanders away to talk to somebody else.
Where did you go wrong?
It’s all about the pitch.
Such events offer you the opportunity to share some of your stories. They’re not the time for selling architectural services in depth. The people you meet want to find out what you do, but they also want to build a relationship. They need you to show as much interest in them as they do in you.
Launching a full-scale pitch during the first meeting bypasses the relationship-building phase. This person has no reason to care about what you do. You don’t even know if they’re looking for an architect. So, why are you so aggressive in selling architectural services?
However, that person is somebody who could create new opportunities for you, so you need to let them know what you do.
You need an elevator pitch. Here are 10 tips for creating great architectural elevator pitches.
Tip #1 – Focus on Length
Remember that you aren’t pitching a design to an already-interested client here. You don’t have to go into great detail about your background or any ideas that you have.
You want the other person to remember your name, your firm, and what you do. That’s it. Short, snappy, and memorable are the keys to creating great architectural elevator pitches.
When it comes to length, you’re looking for something that you can say in about a minute. That’s where the name “elevator pitch” comes from. You’ll only spend a minute or two with somebody in an elevator and your pitch aims to convey who you are in that time.
This leaves you with enough time to say about 200 words about yourself.
Write the pitch down and redraft it. Keep pulling the word count down until you can say it comfortably in a minute without sounding rushed.
Remember that this is your conversation starter. Don’t waffle.
Tip #2 – Tell Them Why They Should Care
You’ll spend the first couple of seconds of your pitch telling the other person who you are.
One question follows – “Why should I care?”
Remember that this person needs a reason to keep listening to you. As a result, the bulk of the pitch should focus less on what you do and more on why they should care about it.
It’s a subtle difference that helps you in selling architectural services. The other person could hear hundreds of others tell them that they run an architectural firm. What they want to know is what that firm could do for them.
Be specific about the services that you offer without going into too much detail. For example, say that you specialise in residential design, but don’t go onto to talk about all the clients you’ve worked with. That’s a question the other person asks if you’ve piqued their interest.
You’re looking to tell them everything important without labouring the points. Hopefully, there’ll be something in there that makes them care.
Tip #3 – Think About You
Before you can tell people why they should care, you need to know why you care.
What’s unique about the service that you’re offering?
Why do you have a passion for what you do?
Knowing this may not affect the content of your pitch too much. However, it will have a huge effect on the tone.
People can tell when you have no enthusiasm for the product you’re selling. You’ve probably come across a few salespeople in your time who didn’t seem to care either.
You don’t want to find yourself not caring during the hundredth restating of your pitch.
Knowing what’s unique about you and why you love what you do helps you to infuse the pitch with passion. This grabs the other person’s attention and engages them emotionally. They’ll want to know why you’re so excited, which means you have them on the hook. From there, selling architectural services becomes much easier.
Tip #4 – Be Ruthless
Think about all the designs that you’ve created during your career as an architect.
Have you ever come up with an idea, drawn it, and then been immediately happy with the outcome?
It’s unlikely. Most architects redraft extensively until they’ve got their designs looking exactly as they want them.
Treat your elevator pitch in exactly the same way. Keep reading through it to find anything that doesn’t quite gel. An awkward sentence could throw off the entire tone of the pitch. Words that you find difficult to pronounce could do the same.
And do you really need to provide so many examples of what you do?
Be absolutely ruthless when editing your pitch. Every word should help you in selling architectural services. Anything that doesn’t has to go.
Tip #5 – Create Space for Questions
There’s a reason why long elevator pitches don’t help in finding architectural clients. You’re telling people too much, which means you take away their reason to engage.
Just think about the sort of responses that typically end a conversation. Phrases like “that’s interesting” are polite ways to tell you that it’s actually not that interesting. Some may be more direct in telling you that they don’t want what you’re selling.
You’ll usually get these responses if you haven’t left any space for questions. Covering everything leaves the other person with nowhere to go in the conversation. They’ll either lose interest or respond by going into their own pitch.
That’s not a conversation. It’s two people engaging in an information dump and then moving on.
Touch on interesting points during your pitch. Importantly, don’t elaborate on them. You’re looking to catch the other person’s attention. Once you’ve got it, they’ll ask about anything that you didn’t cover.
Tip #6 – Practice Constantly
Imagine you’re halfway through your elevator pitch. You think you’ve got it all memorised. But then your mind draws a blank. You can’t remember what you were going to say next, but you were just in the flow. Nothing else comes out and you end up losing the prospect.
Great architectural elevator pitches require practice.
Making the pitch should become second nature to you. But it also needs to sound natural at the same time. Making the pitch too robotic means you’re not engaging in a conversation. You’re just talking at the other person until you’re ready to let them talk back.
Practice constantly, focusing on the pitch, your tone, and your body language. Get all three in sync before you start giving the pitch to other people. Practice also breeds confidence. You won’t find yourself dotting the pitch with “ums” and “ahs” when you’ve practiced so much that you know exactly what you’re saying.
Tip #7 – Avoid Technical Language
Do you recognise these words?
Most architects do. They, along with many other technical words, are part of your everyday vocabulary. You need to know what they mean so you can do your job to the best of your ability.
They’re also useless when you’re trying to create great architectural elevator pitches.
Most people outside of the industry don’t use these words on a day-to-day basis. Even if they understand their definitions, they may not understand what they mean in the context of architecture.
Packing your pitch with jargon may make you sound smart. But it leaves the person you’re talking to feeling confused.
There’s an old design principle that also applies here – keep it simple, stupid.
Tip #8 – Smile Throughout
Think of every in-person conversation you’ve had with a salesperson. It could be a chat with somebody selling door-to-door or a conversation with a store assistant.
They all do one important thing whenever they speak to you – smile.
Remember that you’re selling architectural services, so you’re looking to get the other person to trust you. A nice smile disarms the person you’re talking too. It shows that you’re enthusiastic about what you’re saying. Moreover, it shows that you enjoy the prospect of talking to them.
That last part’s important. Great architectural sales pitches help you to form relationships. In many cases, they’re the first step towards a business relationship. You want to show interest in the conversation and the potential client.
There’s science to back this up too. A Penn State University study linked smiling to better customer service. It also showed that smiling makes you more likeable and can even make others think that you’re more competent.
Those are all things that you want when building a relationship, so show off those pearly whites once in a while.
Tip #9 – Create Several Pitches
Do you know what’s better than having a great elevator pitch?
Having several great architectural elevator pitches.
Here’s why this works. Having several pitches means that you can mix and match the pitch depending on the client. For example, you could have a specific pitch for business owners who want to build new offices. Then, you’d have another for real estate developers building residential houses.
You can even take parts from one pitch and put them into another as you see fit.
Having several pitches also breaks up the monotony of delivering your pitch. You’re not going to succeed in selling architectural services if you sound bored. Creating multiple pitches means you don’t have to hear yourself saying the same thing over and over.
Tip #10 – Add a Call to Action
You want the other person to ask some questions based on your elevator pitch. But you may not have time for a full-blown conversation in that moment. After all, the point of an elevator pitch is to make the most of a snatched couple of minutes.
A great architectural elevator pitch offers the recipient a means to pursue the conversation further. Known as a “call to action” (CTA), it’s your way of telling the person how they can continue the discussion.
You’ll see CTAs plastered all over sales literature.
The phone number on the bottom of your pamphlets is a CTA. So is that last sentence on your website imploring people to get in touch?
Even the last sentence of this article is a CTA.
Build your CTA into your elevator pitch. Tell the other person what you can provide for them and how they can contact you to get it. Your CTA could be as simple as handing over a business card at the end of the pitch. Just make sure you don’t miss it out, else the conversation usually goes nowhere.
The elevator pitch is an important part of selling architectural services. It’s how you break the ice with new contacts, telling them who you are without overdoing it.
It also has different requirements to a standard pitch. When you’re presenting in a boardroom, your clients want detail. They have the time to listen to your explanations and ask their own questions.
Quick meetings don’t provide that time. Great architectural elevator pitches get your foot in the door and leave the other person wanting to hear more.
Take stock of the tips on this list and check your current pitches against them. Do they measure up? If not, go back to the drawing board until you’ve created a pitch worthy of your firm.
Of course, that’s just the first step in selling architectural services. You also need to deliver what you promise, which is where ArchiStar comes in. ArchiStar Academy offers courses that will teach you exactly how to use these packages to the fullest.
All that’s left to do is get in touch. We’re here to help you build better architectural models.
ArchiStar Academy offers several courses across the spectrum of digital design software. You’ll develop your skills, allowing you to create more accurate and functional models.
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Posted on 15 Nov 2019