How many times in a day do you explain what exactly it is that you do for a living? I am in sales, so I do this quite often. I describe our services and products, as simply as possible, and try to keep it interesting. I have a few dusty old elevator pitches that I pull from my memory from time to time, repurposing as necessary. Lately I have been out networking a lot and started thinking that I should probably step up my elevator pitch game. When I meet a new potential client for the first time, I have one chance to get my message across, and hopefully they walk away excited about what I do and how I can help them.
Wikipedia.com defines an elevator pitch as "a short summary used to quickly and simply define a profession, product, service, organization, or event and it's value proposition."
Great, a short summary and a value proposition. Sounds simple enough, but a well crafted elevator pitch is so much more than that. Several years ago I tried my hand at stand-up comedy, and I learned a lot from that experience. Aside from realizing that doing stand-up is a ton of work that I don't have time for, I learned one key point that I have applied to my sales career ever since - If you don't engage your audience and have their full attention within the first five seconds of opening your mouth, you've already lost them.
A compelling elevator pitch needs to contain a few essential components. A problem, a solution, and a success statement. What problem does your business/service/product solve, how does it solve that problem, and what makes you successful at solving that problem. Along with the essential components, a great elevator pitch also needs to follow some guidelines.
- It should only be about 30 seconds long, the same time as an elevator ride.
- It needs to be concise, keep it short and simple.
- It should be easy to comprehend. If your grandmother wouldn't get it, rewrite it.
- It should explain why you are qualified to solve the problem you claim to have the solution for.
- It should be specific. Make sure your pitch doesn't include everything that you do.
- It should point to your target market, exactly who your business is going to help.
- It should be conversational. You are not trying to close a sale, you are just trying to peak interest and start a conversation or set an appointment.
- It should be enthusiastic. If you aren't excited about your business, who will be?
So, now that we have the rules laid out, where do you begin? First of all, you are going to have to write it down. Keep a journal, or a file on your computer. Start off by defining who you are, but keep it brief. Next, describe what you do and explain why your business is unique and what problem it solves. Don't forget to mention your target clients. Now put it all together and edit it until you've got a conversational pitch that flows and captures the most important aspects of your business. All in 30 seconds!
Here is an example pitch to help you get started:
"I am the owner and operator of Squiggles Pizzaria, where hungry families come to eat together, play together, and bond together. We are the only local establishment that offers a full service restaurant and arcade with a 100% robotic wait staff. We serve great food at great prices and keep families entertained. I have been in the pizza industry for over twenty years and so far this is my most successful endeavor. Currently I am looking for investors to help open a second location in the area. This is turning out to be a very profitable business and I'd like to have three locations open in the next five years. "
An effective elevator pitch will help you introduce yourself and break the ice in all sorts of networking situations and business meetings. It will also help you to become more confident and self-assured in business settings. Now it's time to craft your own! You'll need to memorize it, and don't forget to practice, out loud, in front of a mirror, and anyone you can get to listen. If you have any questions or comments, please use the comments section below.