We all know that person at the party, who only talks about how much money he makes, what he does and why it matters. But is that really the right place and time to talk about business?
As an owner of a small or middle market business, it's essential to find a balance between sharing helpful information on what you do for networking purposes and overloading uninterested parties with details. By keeping a few tips in mind on how to not hard sell your small business, you can properly discuss your work, find new opportunities and maintain your friendships.
Know Your Audience
Business can come up at any time, even at a friendly barbecue. As an owner of a small or middle market business, you need to talk about your business in a way that's accessible to whomever you come across.
For example, your cousin Jane might not want to buy your business-to-business software, so it's on you to find an aspect of your business that interests her. If running a business offers you a lot of flexibility in your schedule, you could offer that detail rather than trying to convince her to buy your products.
Technical talk is a no-no, too. If you get too technical with someone who isn't interested or doesn't understand, you'll turn them off from learning more. When in doubt, provide context, not technical details.
Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is meant to be shared in 30 seconds or less. Make sure you get it all out before you reach the metaphorical top floor.
Have a few different elevator pitches ready — the one you share with your grandpa should differ from what you say to a potential client or customer.
The best way to nail down your elevator pitch is to write it and then share it with some trusted friends or colleagues. Create pitches for friends, family and those you meet in informal settings, and then create pitches for potential clients and potential investors.
Know When to Sell (and What to Say)
Knowing how to not hard sell your small business is important, but there are times when selling is the right thing to do. After all, you're dependent on sales to pay your bills. When the time is right, you should sell. The key is to learn when that time is and what to say when it creeps up.
When a potential client contacts your business, or when someone else who could impact your business expresses more interest in what you do, that's the time to hard sell your business. As you try to make a sale, focus on the value you can provide and how it meets the client's particular needs, rather than on your product and all its features. Don't rush. Take it slow and provide potential clients with everything they need to know.
Don't drop business details on just anyone. By learning to read situations for business opportunities versus casual chat, you can tailor your business discussions appropriately.
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