The bell rings. The door closes. The elevator starts to rise. It’s just you and a client you have wanted to land for months. In your mind, you hear your professor telling you that now is the time to bust out the elevator speech. You take a deep breath and let loose.

Now, what your professor and reruns of Mad Men would have you believe is that by the time you reach the top floor you will have landed a new client. Your lightning fast, laser-focused pitch would hit all the high points and leave your customer dizzy with excitement. They wouldn’t be able to give you their money fast enough.

In reality what most likely happened is that you lost any chance of landing the client. Your pitch perfect delivery only served to let them know that you were delivering a rehearsed pitch. Your slick delivery and careful attention to only the positives left them feeling like you were selling them a used car.

If you want people to buy what you are selling, then you are going to have to make them trust you. You can’t pitch trust. Trust is earned. Bombarding people with sales jargon may have worked in the sixties. Today marketing messages come at us every few seconds. Today’s customers are jaded, educated, and can spot a huckster a mile away. If you want to build a lasting customer base, you need to build relationships.

Relationships are built around open and honest communication. Elevator pitches are the business world’s cheap pick-up line. There’s nothing wrong with being clever or witty. Just save it until after you have proven your honesty and trustworthiness.

Of course the best way to gain customer confidence is to provide good service and value. While customers don’t want to be pitched to, they still want to feel like they got a good deal. Giving the customer exactly what they want – and maybe a little more – is worth hours of elevator talk. I know mechanics, accountants, and lawyers that are terrible sales people but still have a pack of repeat customers. This is because they give quality service and honest pricing. They do everything your marketing professor said NOT to do, but still make good money every week from return business.

So what should you do when that door closes and you have two minutes or less to get into the client’s head? Smile. Ask them what they do. Explain in a few short sentences how what you do connects to what they do and mention that you would like to help. Get their card. Be helpful. Then turn the conversation back to them. Don’t push them for a commitment. Don’t call them without asking if it is okay for you to call. Don’t be pushy.

You don’t have to become your client’s best friend. You just have to earn their trust and the keyword there is “earn”. Don’t be surprise if it takes longer than 30-seconds. You earn trust by being consistently honest – something you can’t squeeze into a well polished elevator pitch.