An elevator pitch is a short speech that introduces an individual, business, or product. Brevity is particularly important in sales, where a pitch must be able to sell itself quickly. Brevity also demonstrates that the person making a pitch has personal and professional aptitude and can think on their feet during unexpected situations.
Understanding an elevator pitch
The primary purpose of an elevator pitch is to explain a concept quickly, clearly, and persuasively in less than 30 seconds.
It is this brevity that gives the elevator pitch its name, referring to the average amount of time one spends in an elevator.
But why is brevity is important?
Brevity is particularly important in sales, where a pitch must be able to sell itself quickly. Brevity also demonstrates that the person making a pitch has personal and professional aptitude and can think on their feet during unexpected situations.
Elevator pitches can also be used for:
- Interview preparation – where an interviewee will inevitably be asked to tell the panel who they are and what they stand for.
- Resume preparation – as part of a cover letter or professional summary statement.
- Networking at events and gatherings where industry contacts are present.
Creating and then delivering an elevator pitch
Creating an elevator pitch begins by answering some exploratory questions:
- Who are you? Don’t make the mistake of diving into your elevator pitch before you have introduced yourself. Describe yourself and your role in the business – but keep this introductory information to a minimum.
- How is your company making an impact? Do you know what your employer stands for? Again, it’s important to be succinct.
- What is the value proposition? In other words, what value does your business provide that is unique and specific?
- Deliver the hook – the most important part because it can be used to grab attention and build rapport. Perhaps it is an attention-grabbing statistic or fact. Perhaps it is a compelling story that somehow relates to the prospect being pitched. Here, it’s helpful to have a good understanding of the target audience to pre-emptively solve a problem they are experiencing.
- Include a call to action, sometimes called the “ask”. That is, what is the desired outcome of the pitch? Prospects that hear lots of pitches are used to being asked for something. Do not neglect a call to action for fear of making the wrong move.
- Revise and refine. Before delivering an elevator pitch, read the written version out loud to ensure that it is conversational. Practice is vital. A tone that is too formal or indeed too informal may convey a lack of confidence or conviction.
Delivering an elevator pitch
In delivering an elevator pitch, understand that flexibility is key. Elevator pitches are not intended to be delivered like speeches. Instead, they must flow in an organic, conservational manner. While each pitch should follow the same basic structure, each must be customized to the particular nuances of the industry or prospect being pitched.
Indeed, the prospect will often ask questions that you haven’t prepared for. But this is the ideal outcome because in most cases, questions are a sign of interest. The ability to handle left-of-field questions is often dependent on how much prior research on the prospect has been performed.
Lastly, be prepared. Keep copies of a business card or other promotional material on your person to close the interaction strongly.
- An elevator pitch is a short, persuasive, and versatile speech that can be used to sell or introduce a product, business, or individual.
- A successful elevator pitch is dependent upon brevity, which conveys confidence and professional aptitude.
- To create an elevator pitch, a preliminary written version should follow a basic structure. When delivering the pitch in person, remember to remain conversational and end the interaction with a call to action.
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