An elevator pitch is how will you capture someone's attention in 15 seconds or less. It needs to be sensitive to what that person's segment is, what their organizational orientation is, and their role within that system. This also applies to where they are in their career. Ask yourself: are they a young buck trying to gain access to the boardroom? Are they nearing retirement? Are they comfortable where they are? Are they seeking a promotion or a raise?
The next important thing about an elevator pitch is making it memorable enough to be worth repeating to others. As Seth Godin says, you really want to make sure people do your bidding for you. You want the message to go viral on its own. So, here are ten tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t confuse your customer. Whenever I do elevator pitch exercises with our learners, I often hear examples that are too complex. They use acronyms and terminology that their customers would not be familiar with. That’s a huge mistake! Simplicity is key.
- A pitch should be tailored to what the listener gains from the transaction and connect the dots for them. Understand what really matters to that person and other people within their segment’s universe. That is what you’re appealing to.
- People don't buy features, they buy benefits that are linked to their values. It’s not necessarily energy savings, which can be difficult to visualize. It could be comfort, quality, safety or decreasing complaints in their organization. Incorporate those elements that are more likely to resonate with your listener into your pitch.
- Make the pitch easy to understand and repeat. You want to use words that create visual images. The most powerful pitches that I've ever heard are the ones where the speaker paints pictures of what's going to happen in the wake of doing the proposed improvement.
- Use strong and persuasive language. People have a limited attention span. In fact, studies suggest attention spans range somewhere between 12 seconds and two or three minutes... and it’s been on the decline over the last decade! If you don't engage your listener with something that's genuinely interesting, their eyes are going to glaze over.
- Practice, practice, practice. You need to repeat your pitch many, many times. Try it on people who know the business. Try it on people who don’t. Even when you find something that works, there is always room for improvement. And remember, ideally you’ll want to have a whole quiver of elevator pitches, each one tuned to resonate with a particular type of prospect. With enough practice, it will become muscle memory to select and deliver the perfect pitch without hesitation.
- Visualize the outcome of the conversation. Where do you want it to end up? Are you looking for a business card? Are you looking for a meeting? Are you looking for a referral? Think of this as an opportunity to steer the conversation in that direction.
- Stay calm and pace yourself. People often get nervous when they’re talking to a prospect, and they often don’t know how to use that energy. You want to stay excited while remaining calm, which sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't. You can have a calm conversation while still telegraphing your passion for what you’re doing and what you could do for the listener.
- Realize that people value what they are asking for more than what they are offered, so don't throw free audits or other offerings on the table as a way to entice them. It often has the opposite effect of what you’re hoping for. When you’re utilizing your hook, you need to make sure the bait is valuable. You are offering something to that person, something interesting enough to keep them in touch with you or lead to a mutually productive next step.
- Humor always helps. I have heard pitches like, "I'm in the compressed air business. Of course, if you ask my nine-year-old son what I do for a living, he might very well say that his father blows up party balloons on Saturdays for birthday parties." It’s a foolproof way to break the ice and put everyone at ease. When it comes to making the perfect pitch, that ease is essential.