Many people often hear the term Elevator Pitch and see it as a quick sales pitch to try and get your foot in the door. However, there is much more to it than that but first things first, what is an Elevator Pitch?
An Elevator Pitch is a quick, well-crafted (and often memorized) speech designed to sell a product, or yourself, in a very short time frame. It’s name, often credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso, is derived from the idea of bumping into a senior staff member in an elevator and having to try and win them over by the time they’ve reached their floor. Thus Elevator Pitches tend to last between 30 to 90 seconds, and, when successful, end with an exchange of contact information and a continuation of the discussion.
“The purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you’re with wants to hear more even after the elevator ride is over.” – Seth Godin
Why is it important?
So now you know what an Elevator Pitch is, the question is what makes it so vital to success within the world of work? There are several reasons:
It Doesn’t Make Them Yawn
You may think you have the best idea in the world, or you are the best candidate for the job, but don’t overestimate the amount of interest they will have in you or your product. Your elevator pitch acts as a buffer, giving you the in and shows the value of you or your idea in the smallest timeframe possible.
It Organizes Your Thoughts
If you’ve ever been asked to describe something to someone without preparation, you’ll more than often find that you ramble on adding ideas here and there, or referring back to previous points. This makes explanation a tedious and lengthy process, even if they’ve explicitly asked you for the information. By preparing an Elevator Pitch not only do you have a script ready for whenever the opportunity arises, but it allows you to put down in writing why you think you’re the best candidate for the job, or why your company or product is the best of its kind. It organises your thoughts and allows you to critique the key points that you think make it/you a success. 30 seconds isn’t a long time, so making sure you include the points that’ll sweep someone off their feet is crucial.
Not only that, but still considering the personal element: by having an Elevator Pitch prepared it eases the anxiety of having to interact with someone new, and prevents you getting caught off-guard when someone asks “What do you do?” or “So, what’s your company?”
It Helps Identify Your Market
So you’ve decided on your dream job, or the sort of investor you would like, and now you’re on the hunt. Considering an Elevator Pitch allows you to question the language you need to use when talking to those you want to impress, as well as what sort of arguments and ideas will impress them. After all, language is a social construct tailored to every form of group, and in order to join the group you’ve got to speak the lingo.
We’re In The Digital Age!
With the growth of social media, the internet, and fast-paced information, it has become more and more difficult to make new professional relationships. By crafting an Elevator Pitch it allows you to have a prepared script for developing new relationships. After all, it’s intention is to continue conversation after the 30-second timeframe, and to allow networking. It’s great to be prepared for the few minutes you might catch someone without headphones in their ears or reading their Kindle.
How to Put Together an Elevator Pitch
Now you know the importance of having a pitch ready, there are a few guidelines to consider when putting together a pitch to make it awesome. Not all of the following points are necessary, but all can be more useful in prompting further conversation:
Show them what you can do
If you’re representing a company, it’s normally best to open with the problem that the company solves as it offers something that might be of potential interest. If you’re representing yourself, it’s often best to open with some of your key qualifications or experiences. An example for a company may be:
Don’t you hate it when your internet keeps cutting out? We’ve offered internet services for 5 years, and have a 97% uptime – the best of all companies within the local area.
Problem, and solution! Or an opening for an individual may go a little like this:
Hey, [INSERT NAME]. I’m a post-doctorate studying the psychology of shopping behaviour.
A short sentence combining your area of expertise with your qualifications.
This isn’t a sales pitch, promise!
Disarm the recipient by making clear that your intentions are to continue the conversation more than to hard-sell them. This can be done by either stating what you can offer without asking if they have need for it, or if you’re selling yourself, by simply saying what your desired position or field of work/study would be. This is normally more easily highlight with an example, and so continuing from our internet provider analogy:
Many of our customers seem to be very happy with the consistency and speed of our internet services.
You’re from Derby? Me too!
Drop hints and potential links to organisations, locations, and institutions. This allows for the potential to have something in common with the recipient – you may have studied at the same University, or grown up in the same town – but also allows for potential future networking as it allows them to consider people they may already know from these links.
How about you?
Not forgetting that the role of the Elevator Pitch is to entice future conversations, it is normally best to end asking a question or for the opinion of the recipient. The easiest is often, “What about yourself?” but it could be more specific to what your pitch is related to. If we continue with the Internet provider example, you could end with the question, “Do you ever have problems with your internet?” or “Out of curiosity, which provider are you with? And why did you choose them?” These tend to be less successful than the more open question I mentioned formerly.
And there you have it – you’ve crafted your pitch, rehearsed it in the mirror, and are ready for any opportunity the world may throw at you. Half the success of sales, or gaining investments or work, often lies in seizing opportunities. Master your pitch, and become the person you want to be. Good luck!
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