Raise your hand if you enjoy selling a product or service to friends or acquaintances in social situations.  My guess is that most people find the idea repulsive.  Well, it just so happens, the single most effective sales tactic is face to face encounters; not TV, radio, direct mail or anything else.  When you start a business, you have to put the odds of success in your favor, and that means selling to everyone you know or meet.  The good news is that there is an approach you can use that is not only casual and easy but it also happens to be very effective.

When you’re in a social situation, you will have about 30 seconds to one minute to get your sales pitch across.  Some people refer to this as your “elevator pitch.”   One of the most effective elevator pitches involves the following five steps.  As you read through the steps I will use my business as an example to help illustrate each point.  My business is to show people how to start and grow small businesses.

Start with a problem

Always start your sales pitch by identifying a problem.  For example, when I meet someone and they ask me what I do, I say this: “You know how there are a lot of people out there that want to start a business but don’t know what to do to get started?”  In one sentence I’ve identified what I am talking about (starting businesses) and I’ve identified a problem (people don’t know what to do to get started).

Inject emotion

Emotion is the most powerful motivating factor in sales.  You have to get people to connect on an emotional level before they will consider buying something from you.  Continuing my small business example, I follow my problem question with this emotional statement “…and they become so overwhelmed and frustrated that they decide not to do it at all.”

Get them to agree that they can’t take care of the problem themselves

You need to get people to realize that they haved lived with this problem and they haven’t been able to solve it on their own.  It’s like the firs step in a substance abuse program where people have to admit they have a problem. To do this I’ll say something like this: “Have you ever considered starting a business?”  If they say yes then something has been holding them back – and this is where I can help

Tell them how you can solve the problem

This is your opportunity to tell them what is different now and how your product or service can solve their problem.  In other words, it’s your sales pitch.  Here is what I like to say:  ”I wrote a guide that makes it easy for people to set up a business and market a business.  I wrote it from the perspective like I was personally coaching each reader.  It’s pretty exciting stuff for people who have used it.”  Notice how I interjected an element of emotion into the sales pitch.  You should too.


Whatever you do, don’t wimp out on closing the sale.  Even if you know the person you are talking to is not likely interested then you should close to get a referral.  I close by saying: “Have you ever wanted to start a business or know anyone who does?”  It’s a great idea to have a business card ready so you can hand it to him or her.  If you really want to be successful, put an interesting question on the back of the card where the person would have to go to your internet site to get the answer.  Involvement devices such as this have been proven to be successful.


Your entire “elevator pitch” should be less than a minute.  Practice yours a few times to get the tone down the way you want it.  Remember, face to face encounters are by far the most powerful sales tactic available, so make sure you get the most out of each opportunity.

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