It doesn’t matter what you are selling; maybe it’s an idea for a new business,
an existing product or service, or a project. It also doesn’t matter who you are
selling it to; maybe they are an investor, a potential customer, or a potential client.
In order to have a chance of closing the deal, you first need the audience to listen
to what you have to say.
Unfortunately, few people realize that getting the audience to listen to what you
have to say is much harder than it looks.
The problem is that people are busy. Just like you, they have too much to do and
too little time to get it all done. What’s more, it never fails that the more
potentially helpful someone is, the busier they are likely to be. If you want to be
successful, you need to take this problem seriously; you need to figure out how to
communicate your message in a way that will catch the attention of someone who has
17 other things on their mind.
You need an elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch is an overview of an idea, product, service, project,
person, or other Solution to a problem and is designed to just get a conversation
started. An elevator pitch is designed to quickly catch the attention of the
audience, persuade them to pay attention to what you have to say, and convince
them that they want to hear more. An elevator pitch does this by answering
basic -– but all too often overlooked –- questions like…
- What is it?
- Who needs it?
- Why do they need it?
- WhoRU to see the problem and to build the solution?
Just as importantly, an effective elevator pitch leaves for later the details
about HOW your Solution works.
People are Busy
Just like you, people are busy; they have too many
things to do and too little time to get them all done. What’s more, it
never fails that the more potentially helpful someone is, the busier they are
likely to be.
You are Different
The audience is unlikely to be as interested in, or as knowledgeable about,
your Solution as you are. As a result, you must ease them into it.
The Nine C’s
An effective elevator pitch is nine things.
An effective elevator pitch contains as few words as possible, but no
fewer (and no more than 250 words).
Rather than being filled with acronyms, MBA-speak, and ten-dollar words,
an effective elevator pitch can be understood by your grandparents, your spouse, and
An effective elevator pitch explains the problem your Solution solves.
An effective elevator pitch explains why you are qualified to see the problem
and to build the solution.
An effective elevator pitch stays at a fairly high level and does not go
into too much unnecessary detail.
As much as is possible, an effective elevator pitch is also specific and
Every version of an elevator pitch conveys the same basic message.
An effective elevator pitch addresses the specific interests and concerns
of the audience.
An effective elevator pitch is designed to just start a conversation
with the audience.
Go Easy on the Hype
While it is important to appear enthusiastic and confident, you do not want to look
naļve or, worst of all, make your Solution sound too good to be true.
Don’t get Lost in the How
Instead of focusing on the topic you love and are the most comfortable talking
about – HOW your Solution works – you must first answer more basic
questions like “WHAT is it?”, “WHO needs it?”, “WHY
do they need it?”, and “WHORU to see the problem and build
Start with a Summary Sentence
When you first start talking to someone, it is critically important that you make
a good first impression and set the stage for a more detailed discussion of your Solution.
The way to do that is to begin your elevator pitch with a summary sentence of 25 words
or less. Below is a template that I have found to be very effective for structuring
a summary sentence.
COMPANY NAME is a TYPE OF COMPANY and has developed a PRODUCT CATEGORY that is
KEY BENEFIT(S) than existing solutions (like CHIEF COMPETITORS).
Explain What’s Wrong with the State of the Art
Experienced investors won’t back a Solution In Search Of A Problem (SISOAP),
so you must be sure to explain what will drive people to change and adopt your Solution.
Memorize it and Rehearse it
Because you will use your elevator pitch everywhere,
you should memorize it and rehearse it. That will ensure that people receive a consistent
message. It will also help you look and feel more confident.
LISTEN TO THE AUDIENCE
When delivering an elevator pitch, listening is just as
important as talking. One way to judge the effectiveness of your elevator pitch is
to pay attention to the first question the audience asks.
This document is
copyright © 2009 Chris O'Leary and the LIMB Press LLC. It
is licensed for personal use only. Any organizational or
institutional use must be approved by Chris O'Leary.