The history of elevator pitches goes back to the first days of Hollywood when screenwriters would notice an executive producer and leap into their elevator and attempt to sell them their movie idea before the top floor.
Times are changing, global access via the internet, targeted product marketing, personalised sales techniques and restricted access to executives has evolved to the point where delivering an elevator pitch is probably not very likely. The idea remains though of having a practised, concise and engaging 30 second to two-minute pitch of your business that you can use to gain financial backing, partnerships and new clients.
Even if you never use it, having the ability to demonstrate what you are and why you do it is essential for business focus and clarity as well as times where you might be put on the spot and need high engagement in a short timeframe.
Ideally, you should summarise what you do in one neat sentence that is clear and clean and have people say ‘wow, that’s interesting,’ and invite you to say more. Then more, then more…
Key tips to a great elevator pitch
1. You highlight a need
2. You explain how you have the unique skill, ability or idea to get that need met
3. Show the benefits that others will receive when these needs are met.
Here are five fabulous examples of people who get their pitch right. These are in a competitive environment so nerves are a little high, even then you can see how delivery can be forgiven if the information is high quality and a great reminder to all of us that practice, practice and more practice makes perfect.
What you can also see so clearly in these examples is how well matched each individual is to their product. Clearly, they do what they are talking about. They have chosen something that matters to them. It comes across in their tone, their delivery and their genuine persona.
They all meet these key points:
– Show a need
– Demonstrate a unique skill/solution
– Show the desired outcome
What an elevator pitch gives you is the ability to condense what you do and WHY you do it into a need package. It’s important that you know what you stand for, who your audience is and how to meet their needs.
Focus on these three important questions:
We can take it up a level though. What’s gold now is interaction, connection and experience. That’s how great elevator pitches work. It doesn’t need to be a polished scripted sale like these examples, what you can take from these examples is the ability to match your product, service or idea to your passion and ensure that who you are pitching to cares about those things too.
What Makes a Good Elevator Pitch
Without a doubt the most interesting person in the world is you. That means that the most interesting person to someone else is them. Even knowing this, so many people make their pitch all about ‘I’.
Who I am, what I can do, how my plan works.
It’s so important that your pitch is all about THEM, your listener. If that’s a potential business partner, your pitch is about how they can benefit either financially, through exposure or through a mutually desired community project.
If your listener is a potential customer it needs to be about giving them something they will benefit from and be able to use. The very last thing you want to be doing is spending 30 seconds to two minutes talking about yourself.
Avoid this at all costs. Even opening with your name and title is boring. Start with them and weave yourself through subtly.
Be sure to practice it. Practice writing it and practice saying it until you can release it quickly, clearly and effectively. That way, if you ever find yourself in an elevator situation, you avoid getting tongue-tied and rambling.
When you practice, make a video of it so you can see your stance and hear your delivery on playback and when you feel ready, get feedback from people who will tell you what they think with honesty and consideration. (My course Influence Now will teach you how to present this perfectly). When put on paper, a concise elevator pitch will be around 140 characters. Choose your words carefully to reflect what you do and who your ideal audience is.
In my Entrepreneur Now training we practice a more relaxed elevator pitch, one that is designed to be used at networking events. The entire focus on this delivery is the other person. Using how, where, what and who questions we uncover the needs of the person you are talking to and see if you can offer your services to meet those needs. This is better used as a client pitch. It’s a little longer than the traditional elevator pitch, 3- 5 minutes.
For that, I follow the ABCDE structure:
A: Where Are you currently?
B: Where would you like to Be?
C: What Challenges are in the way?
D is your pitch. You use this to offer them Direction towards meeting their goal. If your service, idea or product would assist them, offer it to them as a solution. This is what you could do. Establish yourself as someone who understands their challenge and can assist in leading the way
E = Engage. Let’s meet for coffee after this… let’s (fill in the most appropriate action) Be sure to swap details and follow up.
Here’s how it works in an example. In having a conversation you determine that this person has a newly launched startup.
(A). You ask where they would like to be and they say distributing to a wide network and being available in retail stores
(B). You establish that their problem is lack of self-confidence
(C). You mention that you are an NLP Life Coach who would be happy to demonstrate a few really effective techniques to build self-confidence on a subconscious level
(D). Explain that the coaching modules cover a much bigger base than just the examples and would be perfect for developing and maintaining self-confidence on a number of different levels.
(E). Establish a time to meet up to do sample NLP work and talk further about coaching with you.
The world’s most interesting person is THEM so the ABCDE is only around what you can do to benefit their position. If you can’t help them, you’ve still had a great conversation, had practice with your ABCDE and maybe made a friend. Don’t push for a sale if there isn’t one there, you’re just harassing people.
In this case, there is no rehearsed script. You go with the flow and deliver what is best for the situation and the person you are talking to. Of course you know your product well, however, it’s about listening more than talking so make sure you get that part right. Get in tune to who they are and what they need.
It not only sounds more engaging it IS more engaging. Nothing is fake or insincere which is essential for establishing trust as well as connecting with the right person. Remember if you are faking it, chances are the person you are talking to is faking it too. To work with genuine, committed people, the best thing to do is be genuine and committed yourself.
Elevator Pitch Outcomes
In both cases, the elevator pitch and the networking pitch, you want a soft close.
By that I mean you don’t ask for the end goal. You simply offer an invitation to continue the conversation in a way that is effective for your idea, service or product.
That might mean going out for coffee, connecting online, a follow-up call, sending information, a workshop visit, a free sample or initial consultation. Whatever works for you as an open door that also gives them something of value.
So many business students who have an elevator pitch as part of their assessment criteria end by saying, ‘I need $19,000 to cover my expenses.’ I would strongly recommend leaving this to later.
Firstly, because you don’t know them and they don’t know you. This might not be the partnership you are looking for (unless you have done a lot of research and you are pitching to your dream investor). Even then, get to know them, they might have very different ideas about set up, infrastructure and starting out that will open up a whole new beginning for you.
What the elevator pitch is designed to do is whet the appetite. Intrigue, engage and develop a sense of curiosity or desire. It’s not the main course so a steak and three veg at this point is a bit of an overkill.
Elevator Pitch Do’s and Don’ts
• Get technical. We are looking for short, clear and clean delivery. You might be passionate about the code that makes up the chip that makes the system work, however other people just might not understand you. Nor do they need to. That’s why the three questions work so well.
Why You. Why This. Why Now
• Ramble. Short means less information, not more information faster. This is an outline of what you do, not everything. Again, you are creating a desire for more information, it’s not a one-shot thing. Just give the key points they need to understand why you are creating something, what the benefits are and why you are the go to person to get this done. Nothing more. Less is so much more powerful.
• Use jargon. It’s confusing, overwhelming. You don’t want to confuse, overwhelm or bore people. Your elevator pitch should be something your grandmother or kids would understand.
• Go for the big sale. I’ve already mentioned to leave off the hard close. While it sounds bold and shows you know what’s at stake and that you have researched, there is plenty of time to go through that later. They are hardly going to sign you a cheque in the lift. There are exceptions, firstly if you have spent a lot of time together already and only now just got around to talking business, the sell will probably go down warmly, or if a mutual friend or third party has introduced you it will establish more trust than a cold upfront hello.
At the end of your successful pitch they want to know more about you, more about your business idea. That’s a great result. Move up from there.
• Tease. Give them enough information that they can see this working. A floating general idea is a great way to open but you need to back that up with a solution, with how this will be delivered. Here is an example of a great pitch that doesn’t have a solution or an action step. Youth unemployment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXwewPgLmkE
An idea without a solution is simply a dream. You need to deliver a business. Start with the bigger picture by all means, but take it to a working solution with direct benefits for the person listening.
• Be seen if you believe in what they do.
If they have a product or service you would like to become part of, make a point of showing up. Pay for their services and be proactive about your interaction and engagement with their services. If you have never done a workshop with them, in no way should you be inviting yourself up on stage or into their office.
• Get passionate.
They are investing in you. Whether it is a client or a business partner they are putting their faith and trust in you so show who you are. Show your enthusiasm and passion for what you do and care about what you have.
• Start the conversation
Don’t expect people to notice you. You need to engage politely and with confidence.
• Practice. Perfect and Revise.
Take the time to get your pitch perfect and as short as possible. Address WHY you do things and what the impact will be for others. Make it as community focused or listener focused as possible and keep rehearsing it until you can deliver calmly and easily with no apparent effort.
So, go forth and be present to the needs of the people you are talking to. It’s not about you. How refreshing, unexpected and interesting!