November 29, 2022 by Amanda Reill
The elevator pitch — the term that captures how you’ll explain your service to a potential client in a hypothetical 30-second elevator ride. Whether or not you live or work in a high-rise, opportunities for elevator pitches abound when you’re putting yourself out there and even when you’re not. You may be at a dinner party where another guest asks, “Life coach? I’ve always wondered what you guys do.” How you respond could be the difference between an “Oh, that’s cool!” followed by a change of subject or a series of additional questions that lead to a new client.
Never take for granted the opportunity to tell someone what you do — and crafting your elevator pitch will prepare you for when the moment comes!
Every conversation is an opportunity. As a coach, anyone could be a potential client. If your coaching services are more niche and/or you’re in a position to be more choosy about your clients, helping anyone understand more about what coaching is will help the entire industry, which eventually circles back to you.
This particular person may not be your ideal client, but their best friend might be. You may not be the ideal coach for this person, but you may have networked with someone who is. If you provide a referral to them, they’re much more likely to remember you and refer your ideal clients in the future!
You should always tailor your elevator pitch for your coaching services to whatever you know about the person, but creating a general script is an important place to start. Rather than beginning with asking yourself the question, “What do I do?” consider asking, “What impact do I hope to have on my clients?” Becoming client-centric, as opposed to coach-centric, is an important aspect to keep in mind in your marketing.
The following is an example of a coach-centric elevator pitch:
“I work with people to help them realize their goals by doing a lot of active listening and asking powerful questions. I meet with my clients weekly to discuss whatever issues are coming up in their lives and help them come up with solutions. We create action items for them to work on in the following weeks.”
This is an example of a client-centered elevator pitch:
“I help men in their midlife stages make the career moves they’ve always wanted to make. Clients come to me when they’re ready to make a change and want to work through the details to make this change happen. This year I’ve helped twelve executives make major job shifts and it’s been amazing to see how they’re feeling more purpose-driven, fulfilled, and achieving a better work-life balance.”
The first example might technically answer what coaching is, but it doesn’t focus on the results for the client. A person listening to the second pitch has a much better idea of what results they’d expect from working with you rather than what the coaching process looks like. Your pitch is a chance for your niche to shine — if it resonates for the listener or they feel it could apply to someone they know, you’re much more likely to have their attention with specific content.
A great way to begin your pitch is to say something unexpected. When someone asks you what you do, they may or may not be just making conversation, but again, any opportunity can be a real opportunity if you make it one.
You can begin with a joke followed by a provocative question that leads the conversation from small talk to actual talk. This strategy was detailed by Tim David in a Harvard Business Review article called, “Your Elevator Pitch Needs an Elevator Pitch.” If making a joke isn’t really your style, you can still try and strike the unexpected nerve with a question, or at least some passion for what you get to wake up and do each day.
It’s important not to be discouraged when you hear others’ elevator pitches and don’t feel that’s something you can do well. You can. You just need to make it your own. What are you good at? What sets you apart? If you’re snarky, capitalize on it. If you’re exceptionally kind, let your empathy shine through. You don’t have to be a natural salesperson to craft a meaningful elevator pitch. Your prospective clients will be drawn to your authenticity.
An elevator pitch isn’t just a sales strategy, it’s a conversation with another human being. Trying to lean into the positive assumption that people are interested in what you have to say is a great place to start. You’re much more likely to exude confidence in your pitch with a positive mindset.
If you’re just starting out as a coach, or even if this prospect still feels intimidating years later, it can be very useful to set aside an hour or two to work on this project. Maybe that means doing a writing assignment, asking yourself what results you hope and/or see clients walk away with. Maybe it’s scheduling a meeting with a business or coaching mentor to help you nail down some key phrases that clearly articulate what you do. There’s no wrong way to do an elevator pitch — the key to success will be honing it as you go!
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