You step into an elevator and find yourself traveling up 15 floors with your dream client. Would you be able to secure a second meeting with a handshake before the elevator door opens or would your 60 second pitch leave the prospect uninterested or even annoyed?
The term ‘elevator pitch’ was initially used to describe an entrepreneur’s strategy of jumping into the elevator with a potential investor and pitching his or her idea within the time it took for the ‘big whig’ to reach his or her office on the top floor. If you provided a compelling pitch, you’d be invited into his/her office to talk further. If you failed, you’d be sent back to the lobby on the first floor.
The meaning of the term ‘elevator pitch’ has since shifted. Today it can be used to describe a well-rehearsed, concise summation of what your business makes or does, and professionals now use elevator pitches in settings ranging from business luncheons to LinkedIn introductions.
Whether you own a garage door repair company that offers the best service in the area or sell a super unique line of organic cat food, if you don’t have a convincing story about why it matters, you won’t get anywhere with it.
Here are five tips to help you construct the perfect elevator pitch:
1.) Do your research: Every prospective client has different priorities – so, if you put together a single, standard elevator pitch that always touches on the same points, it’s very possible that your audience will not see the value in what you are selling. If possible, do a little research on your audience or prospective client prior to meeting them and adjust your elevator pitch accordingly.
2.) Practice makes perfect: Delivering a powerful and persuasive speech on demand and under pressure doesn’t come naturally for most. Practice your elevator pitch multiple, multiple times before you go public with it. Get comfortable with several versions (each angled for a different audience). Also, try reciting it in front of a mirror to ensure your body language is in tune with your message.
3.) Short and sweet is the name of the game: You don’t want to overwhelm or overload your audience with info or stats. An elevator pitch should evoke emotion, arouse curiosity, and fascinate the listener, and finding the most efficient way to do this is key. The goal is to lead them into asking further questions.
4.) End on a clever note: If you don’t want to be forgotten, you’ve got to separate yourself from all of the other lackluster elevator pitches your prospect has heard. Try closing on a clever, personal note similar to: “And knowing that you’ve already met a significant amount of people today, one way you can remember me is that I was once a part of a world record setting hokey pokey, and I’d be more than happy to give you a lesson or two.” A silly fact like this can also be carried over into your follow-up email or phone call.
5.) Never stop improving: You won’t just happen upon the “perfect elevator pitch”. Through trial and error you will learn what works and what parts need to be modified. And even after you become comfortable and successful with a certain pitch, the needs of your target demographic may change, your product may be redesigned, or perhaps your competition will start offering something new. Effective elevator pitches are always evolving.