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Imagine you are in an elevator beside a potential client. Now imagine that you have until the elevator reaches the top floor to convince them of something. With such a short timeframe, each word must be chosen carefully to have the biggest impact.
Now, obviously, this literal scenario is unlikely to ever happen. But it does represent the concept of pitching to potential clients within short windows of time, ensuring that every minute that passes is a minute well spent. This article will help you to understand what an elevator pitch is and how to write an elevator pitch well.
What is an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch, in its simplest form, is a succinct and persuasive sales pitch. As mentioned above, an elevator pitch is the idea that you only have a limited amount of time to get your message across. An elevator pitch can happen at any stage of the sales process, whether you’re closing a deal with a client, pitching yourself to a potential employer or getting your project approved by upper management.
Elevator pitches essentially boil down to whether or not you can portray your skills, knowledge, vision or credentials in a short space of time, convincingly. It may be about you and who you are, or what you are capable of. It may involve your business, its strengths and what it can do for the one you are speaking to.
When and how to use an elevator pitch
An elevator pitch can be applied to any situation in that it revolves around the clear expression of your thoughts and your ability to convince in a limited time. With that in mind, we will cover both the when and the how. As we are not literally delivering a 30 second elevator ride pitch, knowing exactly when to apply the technique is vital in pulling it off.
Earlier, we mentioned a few practical elevator pitch examples. The important thing about an elevator pitch is to recognise when you have the opportunity to use one. Here are some examples:
Starting in the left field, online is a place where an elevator pitch can really shine. So often with the pace of social media and the amount of spam that fills an inbox, it can be hard to be heard through the noise. Messages may be ignored and emails may be deleted. However, utilising the skills of an elevator pitch in your email subjects, your LinkedIn biographies and of course, your initial messages, could make every bit of difference in being read, rather than passed over.
Online is also an excellent place to practice elevator pitches. Consider messaging or commenting on the content of some industry leaders on LinkedIn with short and succinct messages that explain who you are, what you can do and what you know. Monitor their responses or lack thereof to get a clear view of whether or not your elevator pitch is successful.
Of course, many professionals use elevator pitches online successfully to the benefit of their businesses. Some examples of this are freelancers who generate work on social media platforms, B2B organizations and websites with powerful copy that converts sales.
2. Networking Events
Networking events can be found in many cities across the country and beyond and prove excellent places to practise elevator pitching.
One of the best things about networking events is the natural speed of it all. The vast majority of networking events see you moving between booths or aiming to speak to so many people in your industry throughout the event. Each professional that you speak to is a chance to use an elevator pitch. Whether your intention is to sell your services, source potential funding or create new contacts, often at networking events, you are limited to the length of an elevator pitch before those you are speaking to are ready to move on. Think of it as speed dating for professionals!
3. Job interviews
Job interviews could be seen as the pinnacle of using an elevator pitch. Job interviews tend to be short, succinct and to the point. Depending on the interviewer, you could be critically analysed on your every word, not to mention the way you dress, stand and react. With the potential for such strict analysis, the skills that come with an elevator pitch may be the thing that makes you shine when compared to similarly skilled candidates.
4. Prospective client meetings
When pitching to a potential client, it is crucial that you are concise and clear. Elevator pitching can work well in this scenario. A client doesn’t want to be talked at for hours on end. They will want to feel confident and clear that you know what you’re doing from the outset, rather than getting lost in a long and chaotic PowerPoint presentation that never seems to end.
5. Existing client meetings
Existing clients need nurturing. If a client is thinking about parting with your business, it is important you try to retain them. They may have already made up their mind, or might be lingering on the fence due to a potential better deal they can get elsewhere. Whatever the case, elevator pitching is perfect. It means you can change your client’s mind and keep them interested in your business without dragging out or labouring the point. Clients benefit from mini elevator pitches throughout the professional relationship to maintain good communication and positive relationships.
How to write an elevator pitch
Luckily, elevator pitches in practical situations do not rely entirely on improvisation, though they absolutely can benefit from it. The majority of elevator pitch situations are premeditated and you can arrive in the elevator with a script, or at least an outline, so to speak. We will now break down some of the key things to consider when crafting an elevator pitch.
Keep it short and strong
In any given scenario, whether it be a job interview, client pitch or networking event, timing is crucial. It is a good idea to keep your pitch to around 30-60 seconds as you’re working with a marginal amount of time. For example, in a potential client pitch, you would want to keep your ideas brief, clear and concise so that the prospect can follow with ease. Everybody’s time is precious these days, and if you waste a prospect’s time saying the same thing ten different ways, you are almost certain to lose them. If you can not only offer them a high-quality service but do so in less than a minute, they will truly appreciate the interaction.
Consider the ‘problem’
Whoever it is you are delivering the elevator pitch to; it is assumed that they have a ‘problem’ or pain point that you are there to solve. If you are pitching to a prospective client, they have come to you for a reason. They want you to give them the answers to their problem. Use this prior knowledge to shape your words and explain how you could fill that role effectively. Acknowledge that need in your elevator pitch and cover not only what you can do, but how that skill or knowledge will benefit them.
Understand your audience
Continuing on from pain points, it is equally as important to understand the audience you’re pitching to. If you are pitching to the founder and CEO of a business, you know that they want reassurance that whatever product or service you’re pitching is going to benefit the company they’ve spent years building. They want respect, clarity and transparency. Your language and body language should reflect this.
Things to avoid in a successful elevator pitch
A successful elevator pitch relies on you knowing what to do, but also what not to do. In order to truly create an effective elevator pitch, you must consider what to avoid. Here are some examples:
1. Beware negative body language
Anything that can distract from what you are saying has the potential to kill the elevator pitch. By rubbing your hands, shifting nervously or showing typical signs of uncertainty in business, you reduce the effectiveness of your words significantly. Instead, use open, confident body language, plenty of eye contact and a strong, clear voice.
2. Speak with enthusiasm
Depending on the subject of your elevator pitch and your audience, the level of enthusiasm required will vary, but it should always be present. If you are, for example, selling the benefits of a consumer switching to your broadband services, your words should be ripe with enthusiasm to convince your audience that what you’re saying is a great idea. On the other hand, if you’re selling complex and expensive services to a rigid and traditional business, a more professional and serious, yet confident tone will suit.
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