In business, and in life in general, it’s a good idea to have at least one elevator pitch handy for when you meet new people. It helps to break the ice and lays the groundwork for a possible future relationship. While most of the conversation in the blogosphere and the publishing world centers around a single, general elevator pitch, the truth is that you’ll need more than one. We’ll get to that idea later in this post, after some other best practices for creating first-rate elevator pitches.
- 30 seconds is the best length.
The advice out there in the blogosphere ranges anywhere from 20-60 seconds. Our viewpoint is 30 seconds is the ideal timespan –and avoid going over 60 seconds. The tighter time window forces you to drill down to what’s most essential.
- Include your skills, accomplishments, value, and – if relevant – your goals.
No matter what your elevator pitch is for, at a minimum, you want to include skills, accomplishments, and value proposition. In certain types of pitches, your goals are also applicable.
The key here is to be specific as possible. Saying “I have excellent sales skills” is vague and something many people in sales could say. Something like “I prioritize understanding customers’ needs” is not only far more specific in terms of your skills, it has the added bonus of communicating your selling style and philosophy.
Another tip: Use your accomplishments as supporting evidence of your skills. Consider thinking of this formula when writing your elevator speech:
Value is a nebulous word that means different things to different people in different contexts, so we’ll define what we mean by value here. Specifically, value in an elevator pitch consists of a benefit statement for your audience. In other words, *why* are the skills, accomplishments, or products you’re mentioning in your elevator speech valuable to your audience?
Also implied in value and benefit statements – why is meeting you worth your audience’s time? Be very careful with this one – it’s easy to accidentally fall into bragging when you’re thinking of your answer. Keep in mind what your potential audience wants or needs. Remember, like so much else in sales, it’s not about you – it’s about your clients, prospects, and contacts.
- Practice. Then practice some more. Keep practicing.
Here’s the thing about a lot of elevator pitches I hear. The second it starts, I know it’s an elevator pitch. The reason is because the person’s vocal tone and pitch changes into something artificial rather than sounding natural. And that’s disastrous. You can write the most amazing elevator pitch ever, but if your delivery is off, you’re done as soon as you start.
So that means you’ll have to practice giving it until it comes naturally, in your normal speaking voice. The same is true for comedians, who need to practice their routines constantly, until it sounds like their jokes are spontaneously and naturally delivered. In other words, you might have to practice your pitch dozens, or even hundreds, of times before you get it down pat.
- You're going to need more than one elevator pitch.
It’s curious that the broader business world uses elevator pitch in the singular. Realistically speaking, you’ll need elevator pitches (plural). The elevator pitch you offer to a potential client is going to be different to the one you give to a prospective employer. The same is true of a networking elevator pitch.
Why? Because every type of elevator pitch has a different audience and goal. The potential client? You’re hoping to sell a first meeting. The prospective employer? You want a job from them. The networking contact? You’re hoping to establish a relationship. Hence, a different elevator pitch for each.
- For sales-specific pitches, you'll want to use a 3 component formula.
This one is for when you’re meeting potential prospects. It consists of three parts - what you do (whereby you’re focusing on the problems you can solve), how you help (what you can offer and the benefits for your prospects), and invitation (compelling call to action for a future meeting).
Remember, it’s value that matters here - why it’s beneficial for the prospect to meet with you. Always stay focused on their needs and desires, even in an elevator pitch.
To reiterate, elevator pitches are an essential component of your total personal branding package. Writing different versions for an array of situations will make your selling and networking life much easier. But it’s an important to remember that they’re only a part of the whole that is personal branding, the latter of which we’ll discuss in more detail over the coming weeks and months.