The Elevator Pitch

Business people in a elevator
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So you’re on a train, queuing at the bank or perhaps even in a lift and you start talking to someone rather interesting. 

This person happens to be the major decision maker for a company you’d love to go after. Your seasoned sales brain tells you not to pass up this opportunity. You commence the selling process only to find that you’re not getting to the point fast enough and the prospect is quickly losing interest. In the end they get frustrated and you end up hearing “why don’t you just email me?”

You Never Know!

If you are sales savvy then you have probably taken the time to draw up an elevator pitch for moments just like this. However, did you take the time to learn it?

If not then shame on you! An ideal elevator pitch will consist of a well rehearsed, 30 second insight into your company and its product or service. 30-40 seconds is the estimated length of time these ad hoc situations will usually give you. Think of the time it takes to ride to the top floor in a lift.

What you have to remember is that the right person to speak to has not always got the time to listen to your pitch, even if they actually need your offering. Your ability to spot new business opportunities will set you apart from the rest, so why not take the time to plan for any eventuality. Be ready to pitch!

How often will you encounter a new business opportunity in a lift? Probably not very often, however that doesn’t mean to say that it can’t happen; here it is again, be ready to pitch!

Well Constructed

For 30- 40 seconds you need to be able to speak both efficiently and effectively about your business and its products or services. If there is confusion in your delivery there is a danger of confusion being experienced by the prospect. It must be plain enough for someone without any knowledge of your sector to understand. Clarity will become paramount in the short time you will have to deliver. Yes some may find it difficult to do their business justice in 30-40 seconds however it must be done. It may be that you are inconveniencing the prospect, so try to make sure that you are adaptable to the time they have. If you ask whether they have got a minute and they say yes then use that minute effectively. Present a clear and concise insight into your company that will turn those 30-40 seconds into a meeting.

Remember your aim is not to close; it’s to create an opportunity to do so. You want to provide enough information about your company to generate further interest.

The Content

There are many different forms that the elevator pitch can take in terms of content. An effective model is as follows…

  • Who you work with: what type of client, demographic, position
  • What their problem is: the type of need your business can fulfil
  • What you do: the sector your in, the product or service your provide
  • How this will benefit them: how this will help that particular business
  • The bigger picture: what this means for the prospect in the long run

These are the most important details that you want to get across to the prospect regardless of the situation you find yourself pitching in.

What has probably not gone unnoticed is that there is nothing about any possible competitors or the financial benefits. Don’t waste time talking about the competition and how you compare in a 30-40 second pitch. The focus in this short period of time is all on you, your business and what you can do for the prospect. Any financial benefits your company can offer must pass the ‘so what’ test in order to warrant an inclusion into your pitch. It must have some long term value to the prospect and their company. If it does it will form part of the bigger picture.

Learn It!

Thoroughly rehearse your elevator pitch if you don’t want your next ad hoc sales opportunity to end in failure. The whole point of the elevator pitch is to take the pressure off any unplanned encounters by prearranging a sales pitch that will compensate for a lack of time. Realising that you need an elevator pitch is one thing, taking the time to learn it is another. Unfortunately this discipline seems to sometimes elude even the most seasoned sales people. Always work towards mastering your delivery until it’s flawless. Remember you may only get one shot at the ever elusive managing director.

If You Don’t Practice

What’s the worst thing that can happen if you don’t learn it? Well you may miss out on a golden opportunity. If you think that you will never be presented with such an ad hoc opportunity to pitch your making a dangerous assumption. This will do nothing else but ensure you miss out on a possible new business opportunity.

Take a moment to think about all the events that you will attend in your annual calendar. Think about the networking events, business lunches, dinners, meetings etc. Now take a moment to consider exactly how long you are likely to have to talk to each ‘interesting’ person you meet. Finally think about all the business you could be missing out on if you don’t get to the point quick enough.

Move With Times

The truth is that business practices have changed. Business is done on the move, hands are shook in passing and the go-a-head for a meeting is given in an instance. No doubt you’ve noticed this but are you really paying attention? If you’ve not taken the time to implement and learn an elevator pitch then the answer is no! Make sure you are equipped to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, even those random encounters.

Suddenly the effort seems more worth wild. Give yourself the best chance of a new business meeting; start practising!

Craig Fisher – The Sales Expert


Published On: 26th Jun 2008

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