Creating your personalized and unique elevator pitch means you will have to burn some intense mental calories, but it’s worth the work every step of the way.
Your “elevator pitch” is you, in the flesh, bright eyes and flashing smile, and completely believable as you talk about you what you do. That’s why great communicators know how to tell others what they do in a memorable way whether or not there’s an elevator in sight. Your effort and intensity will pay off every time as you unleash the most powerful marketing, sales and branding tool available to anyone.
Your shining, polished, and dynamic elevator pitch can make an immediate difference to you. A successful elevator pitch will have you hearing (maybe for the first time) these sought after words from your new acquaintance:
“Wow, I need to know more about what you do.”
“When can we get together for a cup of coffee to go over this?”
“May I have your card?”
Here’s a bit of contrarian communication theory: short and sweet elevator pitches are never good elevator pitches. Great elevator pitches are five sentences or even longer. As long as your elevator pitch is sound, well thought out and compelling, your listeners will give you the length of time and attention you deserve. That means some work ahead for you. It’s worth it. As you develop your elevator pitch, you’ll build your own confidence in your company and yourself.
How to Build Your Pitch Step by Step
There’s a cadence to every good elevator pitch. It’s not just smooth and easy to understand, but also filled with impact and individuality.
Step 1: Label or describe your business using friendly words.
The first thing that comes out of your mouth in the elevator pitch should be a memorable brief label or description of your business. Here comes the hard part: I’m going to ask that your description exclude all industry jargon.
Step 2: Focus on your customers.
Now that you’ve told the elevator crowd what your business is, immediately move on your customers, and how you serve them. Describe specifically what you do for your customers in plain, simple, and distinct language.
Step 3: Focus on overcoming a client challenge.
Here’s where you can really shine, by launching into a single, highly specific issue or problem you took care of for a customer.
Step 4: Focus on a happy customer ending.
Finish with a flourish and make sure your story has a happy ending for the customer. In describing a specific customer issue that you resolve, you are telling your elevator audience who are worth the investment others make in you.
One Lousy and One Good
Now let’s take a look at some examples. One is a bland bromide we are all used to hearing. The second example is what I hope you’ll aspire to sound like. Let’s take a look at the ordinary and the memorable, sentence by sentence.
Boring and Average Elevator Pitch
We are systems integrators and consultants. Our team of world-class professionals can help you leverage your technology investment with the proper assets and applications to maximize your bottom line. Yes, our motto is: we take you to the next level.
We are systems integrators and consultants.
Well, I’m sure you are. Congratulations! The only problem is nobody knows what the heck “systems integrators” are except the “systems integrators” themselves. Your customers and potential customers do not wake up in the morning and say, “Gosh darn it! We need to get on the ball and call some systems integrators.
Our team of world class professionals …
“Blah, blah, blah” alone does not do this inane phrase critical justice, because it under sells how ripe it is for a sarcastic retort like, “Well that sounds awesome. The only problem is that we’re really on a tight budget here. So, do you have a cheaper team of “hemisphere” class professionals that might be easier on the pocketbook than the world-class guys?”
Giving yourself a grandiose, generic, feel-good label in your elevator pitch undermines your credibility … leverage your technology investment with the proper assets and applications to maximize your bottom line. At what point in time did “leverage” become so popular with everybody trying to sound smart? It gives you the irritating voice of someone who is one course away from a mail order MBA, not the voice of someone who is a strong, confident professional. The real travesty here is the “maximizing the bottom line.” It goes beyond cliché; it’s offensive because it’s patronizing. Every business is in the business of helping others “maximize the bottom line.”
As far as taking it to the next level goes, it just adds insult to injury. It’s doesn’t have the patronizing sound of “maximizing the bottom line” but it’s in the same area code.
Let’s take another crack at this elevator pitch, this time following the four-step protocol that ensures elevator brilliance.
Winning Elevator Pitch
We are technology guys. We make sure your computers and your software are making you money, not giving you a headache. We do lots of things, but here is a good example. Just last week we showed a customer that instead of buying a whole new system for a company he acquired, we could get the two software and hardware systems to talk to each other. We saved him two million dollars.
This is easy to understand and sounds confident, leaving a positive and memorable impression without baseless claims.
We are technology guys.
This is a crisp, friendly, effective business label. The fact that it is informal to the ear makes it even more effective for the speaker.
We make sure your computers and your software are making you money, not giving you a headache …
This is a winning elevator pitch second sentence because it is focused on a customer. This way a jargon filled business becomes easy to understand.
We do lots of things, but here is a good example. Just last week we showed a customer that instead of buying a whole new system for a company he acquired, we could get the two software and hardware systems to talk to each other.
This is a quick and highly focused story of what makes your business come alive by demonstrating you can overcome a problem for the client. When you work at telling one quick story, editing and honing it over and over you are going from ordinary to great.
We saved him two million dollars.
This is a nice little close for this elevator pitch, but the number doesn’t matter. This story works great with the punch line being $20,000, $200,000, or $2 million.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Sweat and work hard to construct five distinct elevator pitches. It’s a reasonable and fair goal for you now that you are working out and looking elevator-pitch buff. Keep that opening sentence the same, but come up with five different reasons customers pay you money and provide five different stories of success to back it up.
That way you’ll be ready for any elevator, or any meeting, with confidence and cool.