Elevator pitches (a short pitch that boils down what you do into 1-3 sentences) are just as important as ever. Global attention spans have narrowed, thanks to the abundance of information constantly available to us. You have less time than ever to grab people’s attention, so you better make sure your quick pitch is perfect.
Effective Elevator Pitches
An elevator pitch is a short and persuasive speech that introduces you and your company while piquing the listener’s interest. It’s known as an elevator pitch because you should be able to deploy it within the short time you have in an elevator with someone, yet still get them interested enough to learn more about your value proposition.
Practice makes perfect. Your elevator pitch needs to come across as natural while still imparting a wealth of information. Getting an elevator pitch to sound off-the-cuff ironically requires you rehearse it to the point it’s second nature and you believe the words you’re saying. This allows you to concentrate more on the delivery of the pitch and even tailor it to each individual you talk to.
Elevator pitches are generally designed for live face-to-face interactions. You have the opportunity to interject pauses and ask questions. So, don’t expect the same fast pitch to be effective if you reach out through other mediums, such as social media. You must tailor your elevator pitch to the medium. Also, consider that pitching to multiple people is very different from pitching to a single person, as you have fewer opportunities to personalize the pitch.
A sales pitch must grab their attention. This can mean mentioning an exciting story about the company founders, how the product is innovative, or how choosing your service has resulted in great success for a valued customer. Think outside the box, but be wary of creating an elevator pitch that sounds contrived or trite.
Your elevator pitch is an entry point for additional dialogue. Ending your elevator pitch with a question for the listener can be a good segue into finding out more about how you can help the new lead. A good elevator pitch will invite questions and facilitate later contact and discussion.
Essential Elements of an Elevator Pitch
While we advocate tailoring elevator pitches to the situation, there are some aspects of an elevator speech that are important in all cases.
- Who are you? Elevator pitches are primarily a response to the question, “who are you?” Start your pitch with a brief answer to this question. Do not ramble. Though it’s tempting to talk about your achievements right off the bat, you haven’t earned the listener’s respect yet.
- What do you do? Boiling down what your company does into one sentence can feel challenging, especially if you’re proud of all the things your business achieves. But getting across what your business does in a concise, easily-understandable manner is extremely important. Simplify and condense what you do into a bite-sized chunk. There will be time to expand on details later.
- What’s in it for them? An additional statement solidifies why the service you provide is so valuable. Preferably, show not only how what you offer is highly beneficial but also how your company is uniquely different from the competition.
Elevator Pitch Templates
1: The basic elevator pitch
The basic elevator pitch includes an introduction, a definition of what you do, a value proposition, and space for discussion.
Example: “I’m a sales associate at Totally Electrical. We pair Michigan businesses with electricity providers. Because we have a close relationship with all of the state’s electricity providers, we’re able to offer steep discounts. Typically, we save businesses an average of 40% off their electricity bills. Have you found your electricity bill has risen recently?”
This is professional and covers all the bases, but it’s sometimes not enough to grab the full attention of a disinterested listener.
2: The pattern interrupt
If the listener is used to hearing elevator pitches day in and day out, then the above template may sound stale. Some salespeople prefer to surprise the listener by subverting their expectations. This “pattern interrupt” grabs the listener’s attention and forces them to change gears mentally.
Example: “What do I do? Well, I help people break out of jail. [pause]. So many of the companies I’ve marketed were in a kind of prison, thinking there’s only one sorry, tired way to sell their products. What do you think is the most difficult thing about marketing your product?”
Unconventional elevator pitches work best if you’re in a creative industry, as they subtly demonstrate how your alternative thinking could be of benefit to the listener. But attention-grabbing elevator pitches need prior workshopping and practice to avoid sounding cheesy or trite.
3: The opening question
A more direct elevator pitch asks a question of the listener. With the question, you demand their attention. Listening to their answer, you empathize, pivot to how your product can help, and add value.
Example: “Have you ever needed to put together a researched report in a matter of hours? [pause]. Yes, I had to do it so much at my last company I built an app that pulls all the data together for you automatically. You get a full PDF outline within minutes. Perhaps I can send you a link to it?”
This approach can be very versatile and allows you to pitch directly to the wants and needs of the individual. Depending on the response to the initial question, you can pivot to different pain points and mention where your product or service solves the problem.
4: The surprise benefit
You can set up a surprise ending to your elevator pitch by leaning on conventional thinking.
Example: “You want to collate and compare all your regional sales from online marketplaces, websites, and point-of-sale card readers into a single report. How long do you think a report like this will take a third-party company to make? [pause] Actually, if you had Lever-AG, the report’s already been completed automatically for you.”
This pitch not only grabs the listener’s attention, it powerfully demonstrates the value of the product. It forces the listener to consider whether the way they are currently working can be improved.
These elevator pitches templates are just some ideas to get you started. You have many options for tailoring your short pitches to make speeches that are concise, exciting, to the point, demonstrate value, and allow for further discussion.