Forget the Elevator Pitch- You need a Wheelhouse Pitch! 

Guest Post by T.E. Clifton III, CEO, Eastport Analytics, Inc.

Business people hear a lot about the critical need for an “elevator pitch” for their business – a short and persuasive sales pitch.  I’ve sat through countless peer advisory meetings where CEOs struggle to express their company’s value in 2 minutes or less.  Invariably, this exercise degenerates into a version of “selling the pen”.  The CEOs in question usually try to come up with the perfect 100-words-or-less that describe their “pen” – their company, product, service, offering, whatever.  And like the actors in “Wolf of Wall Street”, they’re missing the point.

Selling isn’t about describing your product/service/offering; it’s about understanding a prospective client’s needs enough to enable you to tell the story of how their needs will be satisfied by your offering.  The same point is made by the old business school mantra “sell holes not drills”.  So ditch the “elevator pitch” – what you need is a “Wheelhouse Pitch” – a way to climb in to your prospective client’s wheelhouse, and understand enough about what they’re doing there to be able to tell the story of how your offering could help.

To get started on your Wheelhouse Pitch, first you need a clear idea of who your idealized client is, and how to quickly establish what if any part of their “wheelhouse” enables you to tell your story.  Second, you need some process for identifying likely potential clients & how to get to them.  And finally you need the story – how is your idealized client’s need satisfied by your offering.

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