Elevator Pitch In A Nutshell

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:

  1. 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.
  2. How is your company making an impact? Do you know what your employer stands for? Again, it’s important to be succinct.
  3. What is the value proposition? In other words, what value does your business provide that is unique and specific?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Key takeaways

  • 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.

Related Business Concepts

Business Development

Business development comprises a set of strategies and actions to grow a business via a mixture of sales, marketing, and distribution. While marketing usually relies on automation to reach a wider audience, and sales typically leverage on a one-to-one approach. The business development’s role is that of generating distribution.

Marketing vs. Sales

The more you move from consumers to enterprise clients, the more you’ll need a sales force able to manage complex sales. As a rule of thumb, a more expensive product, in B2B or Enterprise, will require an organizational structure around sales. An inexpensive product to be offered to consumers will leverage on marketing.

New Product Development

Product development, known as the new product development process comprises a set of steps that go from idea generation to post-launch review, which help companies analyze the various aspects of launching new products and bringing them to market. It comprises idea generation, screening, testing; business case analysis, product development, test marketing, commercialization, and post-launch review.

BCG Matrix

In the 1970s, Bruce D. Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, came up with The Product Portfolio (aka BCG Matrix, or Growth-share Matrix), which would look at a successful business product portfolio based on potential growth and market shares. It divided products into four main categories: cash cows, pets (dogs), question marks, and stars.

Ansoff Matrix

You can use the Ansoff Matrix as a strategic framework to understand what growth strategy is more suited based on the market context. Developed by mathematician and business manager Igor Ansoff, it assumes a growth strategy can be derived by whether the market is new or existing, and the product is new or existing.

User Experience Design

The term “user experience” was coined by researcher Dr. Donald Norman who said that “no product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.” User experience design is a process that design teams use to create products that are useful and relevant to consumers.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis is a process a business can use to analyze decisions according to the costs associated with making that decision. For a cost analysis to be effective it’s important to articulate the project in the simplest terms possible, identify the costs, determine the benefits of project implementation, assess the alternatives.

Empathy Mapping

Empathy mapping is a visual representation of knowledge regarding user behavior and attitudes. An empathy map can be built by defining the scope, purpose to gain user insights, and for each action, add a sticky note, summarize the findings. Expand the plan and revise.

Perceptual Mapping

Perceptual mapping is the visual representation of consumer perceptions of brands, products, services, and organizations as a whole. Indeed, perceptual mapping asks consumers to place competing products relative to one another on a graph to assess how they perform with respect to each other in terms of perception.

Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping uses flowcharts to analyze and then improve on the delivery of products and services. Value stream mapping (VSM) is based on the concept of value streams – which are a series of sequential steps that explain how a product or service is delivered to consumers.

Read the remaining product development frameworks here.

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