Elevator Pitch

We’ve all been there. You meet someone new, maybe at a party or networking event, ask them what they do, and receive a well rehearsed line about, “I do blah blah blah for blah blah blah.”

They sound like Charlie Brown’s parents and you begin looking for the nearest exit.

As you walk away you wonder to yourself, “Why do we do that?”

Death by Elevator

For years, business gurus have been telling us we need to nail our “elevator pitch.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, an elevator pitch is the idea that you should be able to give a quick summary of what you do in the time it takes to ride an elevator. Essentially, you have any where from 30 seconds to 2 minutes – depending on how big the building is, of course.

Originally, the elevator pitch was supposed to be about communicating value to the person with whom you’re talking. Success of your pitch is measured by scheduling a meeting or exchanging contact information.

The problem with elevator pitches boils down to two issues:

  1. People frequently use business jargon or buzzwords, stripping their pitch of any real meaning.
  2. They rehearse it a million times, making them sound robotic. They’re simply going through the motions.

Neither of these situations is particularly inspiring.

Passion can’t be boiled down into a one-liner. 

Today, I’m declaring the elevator pitch dead. The concept has become overused, overhyped, and worst of all, abused. There is a better way.

The New Elevator Pitch

You know I’m huge on relationship building. That’s why the new elevator pitch is a conversation. Think of it as relationship building, business-style.

It’s about finding a quick way to catch people’s attention and tie them to you by responding like a caring, interested person with a passion for what you do.

Imagine a scenario with me for a second…

Let’s say you’re single and you’re at a bar with your friends on a Saturday night. Someone walks up to you and introduces themselves. They immediately launch into what they do. Before you get a chance to respond, they ask if you’d like to meet with them next week to talk more. Would you accept?

Of course not! (Ok, maybe if he’s Brad Pitt, but let’s face it, he wouldn’t have to say anything). Why do we continue to expect this scenario to work in a business setting?

Let me show you how to do this right…

Don’t Pitch, Connect

Let’s take some of that free flowing, human communication you’d expect in the bar scenario and bring it to business.

“First touches” often happen so quickly in business settings that it’s difficult to make meaningful connections in a short amount of time. But you need every “touch” with every person to count in order for that relationship to start.

Your only goal should be to connect and inspire, not to sell. Assuming we’re short on time (as the elevator pitch does), how do we introduce people to our wonderfulness in two minutes or less? Simple…

Template: Craft a New Elevator Pitch

First sentence: your target customer + interest + their end benefit.

  • Example 1 – “Socially conscious companies seek us out when they are seriously ready to grow.”
  • Example 2 – “Small business owners with modest budgets find us when they are ready to take the next step with their business.”

Second sentence: your uniqueness + the awesome solution.

  • Example 1 – “At (my company), we create effective online marketing strategies that not only create ROI, but build better relationships with visitors, customers, staff, and shareholders.”
  • Example 2 – “My company is phenomenal at revitalizing companies, bringing them to the forefront of online marketing wave, step by step.”

Third sentence: their eternal happiness

  • Example 1 – “I love it when our clients are so happy, when we’ve helped them to far surpass their goals. It’s thrilling to see the playing field open up when revenue is no longer an issue.”
  • Example 2 – “It’s just so fulfilling to not only relieve the feelings of not doing enough online to dramatically changing the course of someone’s business by helping them get more customers and better revenue.”

Usually, the person in front of you has something to say at this point! You can close by saying something like this:

  • “I’d love to get to know more about you and what your company does. It sounds like maybe we could do some great work together. Do you have 20 minutes to talk this Tuesday? (Try to set a time on the spot… not to be pushy, but to save you both time and brain space.)

This template is just a framework. I never say the same thing twice. All the elements are there each time, but I’m going off what the person is giving me.You have to read your audience and adjust accordingly.

A word of caution here about setting up initial meetings: Don’t meet for coffee. Everyone does this and it’s a time killer. Set up a call instead. Coffee meetings take at least an hour and a half and you don’t even know if the two of your are playing the same game yet.

If it’s worth everyone’s time to meet further, then set up the face-to-face.

Summary

People are expecting an old school pitch. Give them something new. Give them a reason to pay attention. Inspire them. A lot of the elements I talked about when “warm calling” apply here too. More than likely, you’ll know halfway through the 2nd sentence if they are really interested in what you do.

One final note, here: Practice your warm pitch. Don’t memorize it word for word, but practice.

When you practice something enough times, it becomes second nature. Think of it as developing muscle memory, not memorization. Watch it. Listen to it. Make it sexy for the person in front of you. Make it apply to their life.

I suggest writing it down, reading through it a few times, and recording yourself, then watching it back.

You might be thinking, “Jen, you’re crazy. I’m not going to record myself!”

If you find yourself hesitating, ask yourself why. Then try it anyway. Good luck!

How much have you worked on your elevator pitch? Tell us in the comments below.