When running a small business, networking becomes a skill that you need to get used to. It’s a tool to get new contacts, clients, partnerships, funding, and exposure in all different places.
Used right, it opens many doors for your business. One of the biggest and fundamental weapons of networking is getting your elevator pitch right.
Not sure what one is or where to start? Don’t worry. This guide will explain what is an elevator pitch and how you can win everybody over with your own.
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What is an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is a 30-second persuasive speech that introduces yourself, product or company.
It’s named that way because it should be a speech that you can complete in an elevator ride with someone you’ve just met. It’s a short, persuasive networking tool that allows you to be prepared for unexpected encounters and take advantage of opportunities to meet new people, whether you find them in an elevator or not.
So, if someone asks you what you do, you’ve got the perfect answer that makes them want to know more.
The goal here isn’t to get an immediate sale or job offer. It’s about making you or your offer sound interesting enough they want a second conversation.
When should you use an elevator pitch?
Now that you know what is an elevator pitch it’s time to learn that they have a variety of uses and can be tailored to suit a matter of situations, including:
- Job interviews;
- Securing funding;
- Finding stakeholders;
- And much more
Basically, whenever you’ve got a chance to introduce yourself to someone new that might be beneficial to your company, it’s time to roll out the pitch. It’s through successful pitches like this that you hear success stories, such as this teenager who managed to secure £50,000 in funding to create glasses from recycled fishing nets.
Just make sure it’s relevant to the business world. I don’t think you need to deliver the speech to your barista or Deliveroo driver as he drops off some lunch.
What makes a good elevator pitch?
A good elevator pitch is one that grabs attention. It’s something that makes people generally interested in what you’re saying and piques their curiosity enough to continue the conversation.
Sometimes the best way of seeing what makes a good elevator pitch is to know what makes a bad one. Take a look at these two examples.
“I’m a business owner. With over 30 years of experience in my company, I’m able to deliver my clients excellent results.”
Yawn. There’s nothing about this pitch that explains why the other person should care. It’s also vague, doesn’t even tell us about their company, industry and has nothing that makes us want to ask more.
Deliver a speech like that and you’ll get nothing more than a polite smile and a quick exit.
“I’m the founder of Nick’s Brews, the only family-fun brewery that’s been home-brewing award-winning beer in the country for over 30 years. After having our most successful year ever, we’re currently expanding our offering to locally made and sourced gin and liqueurs”.
That’s much better. This time, we actually know what industry they work in, what they do and where our potential involvement might come in with the new range of gins on offer. This pitch also demonstrates expertise without having to bore the other person to death with how many years of experience you’ve had in X position.
How to write an elevator pitch
Now you know exactly what is an elevator pitch, it’s time to turn your hand into making your own.
But don’t worry, we’re going to guide you through this process step-by-step.
1. Who are you?
First up, you need to tell others who you are.
This only needs to be a quick line introduction, explaining who you are and what your role is. Remember, elevator pitches are only about 30 seconds long, so no one needs to know your life story or a list of all your achievements.
But, they do need to know who you are. So, write your one-line description. For example:
- “I’m the founder of Nick’s Brews”;
- “I’m a sales rep at Peptide Pops”;
- “I’m the best-used car dealer in town”.
That’s all that needs to be said. It’s also handy to always have a business card with you, so after your pitch you can give them a card to remember your name and details.
Not got a mission statement yet? Find out what they are and how to summarise the key concepts of your business by writing a killer business plan.
What does your company do?
Okay now we know who you are, let’s get down to business and describe your company. Tell them what your company does and what it offers people. If you’re trying to sell a new product or service, tell them about it.
You need to lay out exactly what you have on offer in just a few words. It can be a difficult task, but it’s not impossible. It’s all about boiling your offer down into one, solid mission statement that portrays your key benefits.
- “Our software helps business managers save 2 hours a day on reporting”;
- “We provide the fastest internet connections in the UK, no matter how remote your office is”;
- “We deliver delicious home-made brownies straight to your door”.
When writing this line, think about what would happen if the elevator doors opened at this moment. If you didn’t get time to finish your pitch, would they know who your company is and what you do? If yes, you are getting very close to know exactly what is an elevator pitch!
3. Deliver results and what makes you unique
Okay, now you’ve explained who you are and what you do. Now it’s time for the kicker. What makes you unique? What have you delivered that’s different from everyone else?
The key to getting this one right is to be specific. If you’ve got stats and numbers, use them. If you’re responsible for a 20% increase in sales, wear it like a badge. But remember, you don’t have all day to talk about your achievements so boil them down and pick the one that packs the biggest punch.
- “In 6 months, I increased sales by 40%”;
- “I saved my businesses enough time to take on 4 new clients a month”;
- “I cut delivery costs down by 70%, doubling our profit margins”.
For this, think of the PAR formula.
- P = problem
- A = action
- R = result
4. Create a call to action
A big part of what is an elevator pitch has to be the call to action!
A call to action is where you tell someone the action you want them to take. For example, imagine you need a new phone and you’re not sure which one to get. So, after some research, you end up on a webpage showing you all the new features of the latest Samsung phone. Underneath all of this, you’ll be faced with a big button to ‘Buy Now’.
That button is a call to action. The point of that page is to get you to buy the phone, so they’ll do all they can to point you in that direction.
Your elevator pitch should have a goal in mind. Whether you’re looking for partners, investors, clients or job offers, there’s a goal you want to achieve.
Your call to action should help you achieve that goal. Now, you can’t simply go straight to “want to buy” during an elevator pitch. But you can initiate plans to talk again or book in a meeting.
- “If you know someone who might want to order a batch, send them my details”;
- “If you want to hear more about this, why don’t we schedule a call?”;
- “Tell me, what are you looking for in a sales rep?”.
5. Read and edit
Once you’ve got your rough draft down, it’s time to read it out loud and get those finer details nailed.
It’s important to read it out loud to see if sounds natural – and get yourself used to say it. At this point, you may also want to practice with people you know to get feedback and their thoughts on your pitch.
Once you’re happy with it, it’s time to practice, practice, practice. The more you say it, the more natural it will become to you.
Top tips for writing an elevator pitch
Want a few more tips to create a perfect elevator pitch? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Always know your audience
What works for one person won’t work for everyone and that is one key take away of what is an elevator pitch. Before you jump in, it’s sometimes good to get people talking first so you can learn more about them. Once you’ve got a better idea of who they are and what they’re interested in, you can tailor your pitch to suit them.
For example, say you’ve just met Susan. Susan tells you she’s the head of sales at a company that fits your target audience perfectly. Now you know this information, you can give her the elevator pitch that you use to get new clients.
It’s also worth putting a few different elevator pitches together, depending on where you can use them. So, no matter what situation you’re in you and pull out the perfect pitch to impress anybody.
Keep it short and sweet
Elevator pitches are named that way for a reason. As we mentioned when describing what is an elevator pitch, they were named that wat for being short, persuasive pitches that you could say to someone even in a short elevator ride together.
Short is the key here.
When making your elevator pitch, don’t try to include everything about your business. You may love talking about it, and I’m sure there are tons of benefits that you can mention. But now is not the time for it.
Don’t ramble or go off-pitch. Keep it short and sweet and stick to the plan.
Lead with a hook
A hook is an enticing statement that grabs attention. It’s called that way because it’s something that ‘hooks’ your audience into your story and makes them want to find out more.
Instead of going straight for the introduction, try including a hook to capture attention first, to give your pitch an extra wow factor.
“Did you know that the average salesperson wastes 2 hours a day on admin tasks? I’m David Lemon and I designed the software that solves this problem…”
Questions work well as hooks because as soon as you ask them, the other person is invested in finding the answer. Once you’ve got their attention, everything you say will have a much greater impact.
Getting attention and delivering a memorable pitch is what you should be aiming for to deliver a great elevator pitch. But, you want to make sure that you will be remembered for the right reasons.
Although using a controversial hook or topic might get your attention, it’s not worth the risk. If you need any more evidence of that, just read our guide on why you should avoid mixing politics and business.
What is an elevator pitch? The key points
An elevator pitch is a short, 30-second pitch where you introduce yourself and sell your company, product or offer. They can be made and used for a wide range of purposes.
Great elevator pitches are designed to make people interested enough in what you have to say, encouraging them to talk back or book in a second conversation with you. Using them wisely, they are the biggest networking tool that can open the right doors for your business.
Using the tips from this guide, you will know exactly what is an elevator pitch and how you can create one to win everybody over.
Need more advice or inspiration? Take a look at some more of our top tips and guides to help your business succeed.