You are mingling at another holiday cocktail party or social gathering when someone you’ve just met asks you what you do or what your business is all about. How do you answer? As you launch into your answer, is the recipient of your response smiling and nodding knowingly, or have his/her eyes already glazed over as you spill into 10 or more sentences?
Commonly known as the ‘elevator pitch’ because it describes the following scenario: How would you explain your business and SELL yourself in the time it takes to get from the top floor to the ground floor? And no, I don’t mean in an elevator ride in a Dubai skyscraper. Maybe 20 floors, tops! Do you know how to convey what you do in three sentences or less?
Three Things Every Elevator Pitch Needs
- Brevity: You should not be talking for more than 60 seconds. Yes, really.
- Clarity: Do not use industry jargon thinking you will dazzle the prospect. In reality, you will confuse him/her and make him/her less likely to ask follow-up questions lest they appear unknowledgeable or more confused. Use common language and explain it like you would to a 10-year old. This is not condescending. It is simplified and concise.
- A Story: Use language that paints a picture. And in this picture, you and your business are riding in on the proverbial white horse to solve a business problem for your client, making their business better and more profitable. You/your business are the answer to their business prayers.
How can one start to craft an interesting pitch? Begin writing down action words/phrases describing what your business does. What does your business sell? Is it a product or service? What business problems does your business solve? What types of clients are ideal? These descriptions will paint a big picture and you will bring this picture down to a snapshot for the different types of prospects you may be pitching to at any given time.
- Listen to your pitch in your own voice. Use an app like Dragon Dictation to record yourself practicing your pitch and continue to practice until you’ve really nailed it. Test your pitch by playing it for someone who is not in your industry. After they’ve listened to it, can they answer in no uncertain terms what your business does? If not, it’s back to the drawing board!
- Practice makes perfect. Play your pitch over and over in your head until it becomes second nature. Once this pitch appears effortlessly in your conversation with new prospects or when meeting new people, its simplicity will be your best business feature.
- Long live the pitch. Your pitch should be a living thing. Be on alert for phrases or wording that could make your elevator pitch more clear and meaningful. Test each new version out. As your business grows and changes, so will your elevator pitch. You, your business, your goals, and prospects will benefit from periodic revitalizations of your pitch that capture where your business is going.
There are a number of essential elements in a successful elevator pitch. In my opinion, an elevator pitch should be no more than 3 sentences—and not run-on sentences. Succinct, descriptive sentences are the goal. It should not sound rehearsed or overly sales-y. It should roll off the tongue effortlessly because you are confident in your business’ ability to help this prospect or at least direct them to someone who can. Ultimately, you want the prospect to be so intrigued or convinced they need to know more about you and what you do that they ask for your card and make a date to follow-up on your elevator pitch—this is the definition of success. Congratulations, you’ve just sold yourself! Now make good on that pitch and knock it out of the park to turn a prospect into a client.
Do you have a prepared elevator pitch you are using right now? Is it working for you? What would you like to change about it?