• Duane Cashin

The Importance of a Good Elevator Pitch

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

People often dismiss the term elevator pitch as a quick sales pitch to try and get your foot in the door.

However, there is much more to it than that.

Yes, an elevator pitch is a quick, well-crafted, memorized speech designed to sell a product, or yourself, in a very short time frame. Its 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 reached their floor. Thus, elevator pitches tend to last between 30 to 90 seconds. 

Why is that so important? Because when successful, they result in the other person understanding your unique value proposition, the exchange of contact information, and an invitation to continue the discussion. Not bad for 30 seconds.

Elevator pitches have 3 distinct elements that make them powerful:

  1. They are short and sweet. You have a very short time frame to showcase your value. Language becomes purposeful.

  2. They force you to organize your thoughts. Your prepared script does not include awkward pauses, rambling, anxiety, or overthinking. 

  3. They carry over beautifully into social media and email messaging. With the growth of social media, the internet, and fast-paced information, a short, clear message is more important than ever. A well-crafted elevator pitch transfers seamlessly into those areas.

You probably already have several elevator pitches prepared for your personal life. Just consider how you would answer the following:

  • Why is your favorite football team better than mine?

  • Why did you vote for one candidate over another?

  • Why is your brand of car better than mine?

  • Pepsi or Coke?

My bet is that you’d make a quick, passionate pitch for at least 3 of those topics, adequately convincing me of the value of each.

Do you have such a pitch for your unique value proposition?

When we conduct sales force evaluations using Objective Management Group (OMG)’s proven assessments, we ask salespeople to record their elevator pitches and value propositions as part of that evaluation.  Some are OK, most are not, and for most companies, there are tremendous inconsistencies between each salesperson's messages.

That’s where we get to work. 

We believe in the power of a good elevator pitch (or unique value proposition if you like the term better), and we encourage sales teams to improve theirs by including the following elements:

1. Likable/Personable

It's imperative that salespeople deliver the right message without sacrificing their likability. When a likable salesperson launches into a pitch or proposition and recites a scripted message, it sticks out like a sore thumb and they are no longer perceived as personable.

2. Clarity of message

The essence of an elevator pitch is the message itself. Is the actual message consistent with what an elevator pitch (what we do) or value proposition (how we uniquely provide value) are expected to communicate?  In our experience, most are not.

3. Right context

Think of a context as the backdrop for the message.  If the type and location of an event represent the context for how to dress, then the question that was asked or the type of call or meeting represents the context for the pitch or proposition.  Context helps us frame the elevator pitch or value proposition.

4. Right information

Salespeople will often fail to include the company, product, or brand in the elevator pitch when it's the company that should be front and center.  Explaining how what we do, or how we are different, impacts the prospect is equally important.

5. Breadth

Salespeople should communicate the breadth of the offering or how they are different from the competition. Too often, they ramble through their elevator pitches, something that is never very effective.

6. Succinctness

Less is more. As important as it is to show breadth, it is even more important to be succinct. Fewer words communicate value more effectively.

7. Expertise

Many buyers are making their decisions based on price instead of value, and that’s because salespeople aren’t demonstrating their company's expertise, an element that can help neutralize a price-driven buyer. In other words, salespeople must provide prospects with the information they can use to justify buying from a company that doesn't have the lowest price.

So, now that you know why elevator pitches are important and what goes into crafting good ones, the question is, what must you do to improve yours? ​ We’re eager to help.

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