In my experience as an executive coach and business mentor, I have worked with business owners and managers across a number of industries, and as we’ve discussed their strategies and marketing tools for business growth, the topic of the so-called elevator pitch has frequently come up.
Clients often ask me whether their pitch is right or wrong and how to make it sound better. Hence the article you are reading now.
A lot of people confuse an elevator pitch with a sales pitch so let me start off by saying that these are two different things. An elevator pitch is called so for a reason – it is what you would reply to the question “What do you do?” or “What business are you in?” if you came across somebody, whether a potential client or an employee you would like to hire, in an elevator.
Obviously, that could be any place else – a networking event, a conference or even on the street. In other words, you only have a very limited time, normally 20 – 30 seconds, to get across your message and make an impression that would hopefully lead to something. A sales pitch, on the other hand, is an extended version of the elevator pitch that lasts up to 2 minutes and can go into the benefits of what you offer more extensively.
Here are a few tips for your elevator pitch that would hopefully help you nail it down.
It should be about your audience
People often get carried away talking about their products or services and forget to answer the one question that the audience really cares about: What’s in it for me? Remember, the pitch is about you but not for you. It is for the audience and you only have a limited amount of time so don’t waste it talking about the features or your product or the aspects of your service. Talk about the benefits of what you offer, what makes you stand out. Your pitch should answer the question Why is what you offer any good. If you manage to answer this question, your audience might be able to identify their own needs in what you are saying.
It should be customised
Always remember who you are standing in front of. If you are talking to a potential investor, you would need to stress more the performance of your company rather than the benefits of your offering and if you are talking to a client, vice versa. In other words, make sure your message is customised to whatever your audience would care about.
It should be memorable
Leave the fluff out; you don’t have time for that. Make sure you make it very clear what you do and how you can help but also try to incorporate a memorable fact if you can. Just a sentence or two where you mention a high profile customer of yours, a large project you are working on, a patent that you have or anything else that you think would impress them.
It should provoke action
Remember, you are doing this pitch for a reason. You are trying to achieve something. Don’t shy away from inviting people to take action, i.e. if you are talking to an investor do mention how much money you need; if you are talking at a conference to a room of potential clients, invite them to walk up to you, set up a meeting or ask a question. Leave that bit for the end as this is what people tend to remember the most.
It should sound natural
There’s nothing worse than a pitch that sounds like a pre-recorded program. Once you’ve come up with a pitch that has all the elements: a brief description of what you do, the benefits of it, a memorable fact and a Call to Action, practice, practice, practice. And never repeat the exact same words. Remember, you never know who you might need to give the pitch to so you can’t learn it by heart as you will need to customise it. You should know all the elements that need to be mentioned but it should sound natural, at a normal pace and in your own words, customised for who you are talking to.
An elevator pitch needs to be short and informative but most importantly, it needs to be memorable. Always keep in mind that it is not just about what you are saying but how you are saying it. Years ago the American actor Burt Lancaster said:
“Sell yourself first, if you want to sell anything”.
This is true in many aspects of life but couldn’t be more true when it comes to business. Whether you are pitching to an investor, talking to a potential client or hoping to hire somebody, your body language often tells more than your words and people pick up on those signals subconsciously (this is scientifically proven).
Are you smiling enough? Are you standing up straight? Are you looking them in the eye? Make sure you do. A smile makes people open up, you posture coveys confidence and eye contact is perceived as being genuine. Once people feel connected and like you, they are much more open to actually hearing what you have to say and responding to your words.
If you would like to know more about improving your sales techniques, the marketing tools you use and your overall business strategy, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I have extensive experience in the field of marketing and would be happy to chat to you and help you boost your confidence and your business results. You can get in touch with me, Paul Davis, here.