How to Give Great Elevator Pitch

Today is all about the elevator pitch. 

Starting off, let’s be clear on what an elevator pitch is. An elevator pitch is really just a super short introductory speech that you might give to a potential client or investor when you meet them. It’s called an elevator pitch because you’re supposed to keep it under 30 seconds – or about the time you’d have if you rode an elevator with someone and only had that time in the elevator to make your pitch.

Having a solid elevator pitch is incredibly important for entrepreneurs because we never know who we may run into or meet at an event, so we need to always be ready to show off our businesses.

So, let’s first talk about what makes a great elevator pitch and then we’ll walk through how each of you can construct an awesome one for your business.

Here’s your cheat sheet for what makes an elevator pitch great: it’s concise, it’s compelling, it’s credible, you’re likable while you deliver it, and it’s very easy for the person you’re talking to to take the next step that you want them to take.

Well, that’s great but, let’s be honest, we also all know what makes a photo great but we can’t all just run outside and take a gorgeous picture, right? Figuring out WHAT makes something great isn’t nearly as difficult as figuring out HOW to create that great result. So let’s talk about how each of you can actually create an elevator pitch for your business that meets all of the criteria we just discussed.

Firstly, you need to lay the foundation for your pitch and that means #1 understanding your audience and #2 understanding your goals. Makes sense, right? You need to know who you’re talking to and understand not only what might make them interested in your business, but also what you hope to gain from your interaction with them.

It’s probably pretty clear why you should know what your goal is for the conversation with this person, but it’s also incredibly important that you know who you’re talking to so that you can craft your elevator pitch to make sense for that person. You won’t want to say the same thing to a potential investor as you would to a potential client because your goal for that interaction would be different and what would get that person interested in continuing the conversation and learning more about your business would be different.

When you brainstorm about who your audience is and what your goal is, include as much detail as possible about who the person you’re talking to is, what they do, what they like, and why they might be interested in what you have to offer and then your goal should be specific and realistic. Remember, this is a quick little thing you might say right when you meet someone, so your goal for the relationship eventually might be that the person invests in your business, but nobody is going to write you a check after 30 seconds, so your goal for the interaction should just be to get a meeting to pitch your company to the investor’s firm, for example.

The answers to these two questions – who are you talking to and what do you hope to get out of the interaction – form the foundation for creating your elevator pitch and then you simply follow the BDA formula: benefit, differentiator, ask.

You begin your pitch with the benefit to whomever you’re speaking with and the benefit isn’t about what you offer, it’s about what the other person would gain from what you offer. This trips a lot of people up so, if you struggle here, think of the benefit as the effect on the person you’re talking to of doing whatever you want them to do as opposed to thinking about it as the thing itself. For example, if you sell toothpaste, the offering is a product used for dental hygiene but the benefit to the user is a clean mouth, fresh breath, and sparkling teeth. People don’t buy toothpaste, really; they buy cavity protection and kissability.

Remember who your audience is and what your goal is because the benefit will depend on whom you’re talking to and what you’re asking for.

Next up is the differentiator. The differentiator is what sets you apart from others competing for the same customers or investors as you are. Maybe your toothpaste has a patented technology that continues to kill germs and keep your breath fresh for 24 hours instead of 12; if it does, say so. Whatever makes you special, you have to share it here or you won’t be memorable.

Then, finally, you close out with the ask. Be careful here though because, as I mentioned before, you don’t want to be too heavy-handed. You don’t ask for an investment after 30 seconds, you ask for a second meeting; you don’t ask for the sale, you ask to show off your offering.

So let me give you an example of this and let’s just stick with the toothpaste and say my audience is a potential customer and my goal is to get them to try my toothpaste because I know most people that try it end up buying it. If I meet this person at a conference and they ask me what I do, I might say, “I own Awesome Sauce Toothpaste, which uses our patented technology to create toothpaste that keeps germs away and your breath fresh for a full 24 hours. Since we have that patent, we’re the only product out there scientifically proven to keep you fresh for that long. Would you like to try a sample tube?” There you go: Benefit, Differentiator, Ask and it’s concise, compelling, credible, and the next step is almost harder for them to say no to than to say yes to.


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