Elevator Pitches that Sell – Not Suck
An elevator pitch (or speech) is a short description of your value proposition. You need one because you never know who you will share an elevator with or who you will meet in the grocery store, at the dog park, etc. The elevator pitch as about introducing yourself to someone who doesn’t know you, isn’t looking for your services/products (yet), and doesn’t have time right now to talk to you. You are at a disadvantage so do everything in your power to positively draw their attention to your message.
Your elevator pitch must demonstrate confidence, clarity, value, and a call to action within 90 seconds WITHOUT being pushy.”
Not all elevator pitches are created equal and, if you aren’t consciously crafting one, you are failing to leverage each interaction. Elevator pitches fail for a number of reasons but here are my top 3:
You aren’t truly prepared. Write your pitch down. Now, practice … out loud. Once you feel confident, ask trusted colleagues to critique your speech. If they say, “Oh my! That is awesome”, find someone else who will give you constructive feedback. Elevator pitches are never perfect but you want to get as close to perfect as possible.
You are too close to your to your products and services. When you put your heart and soul into creating a product, delivering a service, and building a brand, it is hard to sum it up in 90 seconds. I mean, how can you possibly fit that much passion into such a short amount of time. This is why you need to actively seek out constructive feedback.
You want to tell them everything about your business. This isn’t the time to enumerate all the awesome things you produce. Tailor your pitch to the person in front of you by zero-ing in on their needs first, then tell them how you can help them.
Your elevator pitch needs to contain the ‘who’, ‘what’, and ‘why’. The ‘why’ is the most important portion of your pitch so give it at least 50% (preferably 75%) of your time. Hook your listener early so they actually hear the ‘why’ part of your speech. It is really hard to hold people’s attention in today’s environment. The Statistic Brain Research Institute reports the average attention span of an adult in 2015 is 8.25 seconds before they chase after another bright, shiny object. Your elevator pitch is becoming more relevant every day because attention spans measured 12 seconds in 2010 which means 31% of your opportunity has vanished over the course of 5 years.
Clarity & Passion
You really need to have a clear picture of why you are in business. No. It isn’t to make money. That is a result of being in business. Why are you doing what you do? Your vision should be so clear and concrete that you can write it on the back of a business card.
Be authentic when you deliver your pitch. People lose their passion in the elevator speech when they have memorized the words but not internalized the meaning. Take some time to really feel connected to your speech. It should sound natural and be filled with enthusiasm.
“Hi! My name is Amy Beall and I’m a Life Coach in the Los Angeles metro area.” (7 seconds)
The first step is to grab their attention. The best way to do this is to introduce yourself. You aren’t selling anything yet. You are just building a relationship. Now is not the time to get cute nor is it time to make your listener work hard to follow your line of thought. This is Networking 101.
“I’m a problem solver and I love helping client’s solve some of their most pressing business and work-life challenges.” (10 seconds)
I’m showcasing my overarching business strategy as well as where I fit into the whole scheme of things. This part of your speech might trace directly back to your vision or mission statement if you are a business owner. If you are networking as a professional, it could be a description of the value to bring to your firm. However, I would avoid using a description of your job title. Job titles can be limiting. If I could give myself a title, it wouldn’t be owner, CEO, or founder. It would be ‘Chief Problem Solver’ because that is how I see myself.
“Sometimes people need a different perspective to overcome a hurdle. That is where I come in. I help professionals rebrand themselves, prepare for the next promotion, and build skill sets for the new position they have just taken. You can call or email me whenever you get to a cross-road like this.” (23 seconds)
I hand them my business card as I say the last part and mention any promotions or upcoming speaking events. While I am bringing the elevator pitch to an end, I am not closing the conversation. I am shifting the focus back to the potential client. If they seem open to chatting a bit more, I listen to their immediate needs. The elevator pitch is about introducing yourself but a sale is about listening to the potential client and being authentically interested in their needs and whether you can help them. If you realize your skill set doesn’t match up to what they need, ask for a referral. That’s right. Ask for a referral.
I mentioned above that we should zero in on what the client needs when delivering your value proposition. For this interaction, I only focused on professionals in a firm setting. However, if I met with a small business owner, my speech would be a little like this ..
“Sometimes people need a different perspective to overcome a hurdle. That is where I come in. I work with small service-oriented business owners to settle into their specific niche, balance their life, and accelerate their business. You can call or email me whenever you find yourself in a position like this.” (23 seconds)
I’m not being untruthful; I work with both demographics but I want to be as relevant as possible to the person standing in front of me. I would lose some of the power of my pitch if I tried to mention everything. Many fitness gyms have multiple marketing plans. Some commercials feature the availability of child care while you work out while others emphasize the awesomeness of the cycling classes. The gyms are making sure they are relevant to a specific demographic.
What are some of the tricks you use to craft and deliver your elevator pitch?