Along with the much maligned ‘blue sky thinking’, ‘elevator pitch’ has to be one of the best known pieces of management speak out there. But don’t dismiss it as another piece of jargon. Spending time crafting the perfect elevator pitch is one of the most valuable things you can do as a business owner.
You might never actually be standing in an elevator next to the perfect partner for your business. However, at various points in your entrepreneurial career you will certainly be standing in front of potential investors, selling exactly why your business is a great shot for them, or trying to bring a new customer on board over a hastily-grabbed coffee or canapé at a networking event. Being able to concisely and compellingly explain what it is that you do – and what it is you can do for them – is a truly vital business skill.
Here, then, is our simple five-step guide to crafting the perfect elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch stands or falls on standing out from the crowd. Whatever is most impressive, unusual or, hopefully, utterly unique about your business should be absolutely front and centre. You don’t need to have patented a brand new invention to present a standout elevator pitch – you might choose instead to name-drop a particularly impressive client, or reference a big-name company you previously worked for.
Choosing which elements to leave out of your elevator pitch are just as important as choosing the right elements to put in. An elevator pitch shouldn’t cover every detail of your business – it simply can’t; for a start – rather, it should be an invitation to your audience to ask more questions. As such, it’s well worth considering how best to leave that audience wanting more. What stories or facts can you briefly mention that entice people to ask further questions?
Whether you are presenting your elevator pitch to a potential investor, partner or customer, the most effective way of encouraging them to sit up and remember you is to is to explain what you can do for them. Make it personal. How can you deliver a great return on investment for that angel investor? How can you help that partner expand strategically into new markets? How can you take away the pain and reduce the expenditure of that customer?
An elevator pitch isn’t a standalone event. Rather, it should encourage your audience to follow a clear call to action. If you’re delivering your elevator pitch to potential investors, then you must make it absolutely clear what investment you require and what equity you are offering. If you’re pitching to a customer or partner, they should know exactly how they sign up.
Test and practice
You should never go into an elevator pitch blind. Test it out on a variety of audiences, including some who aren’t familiar with the precise specialisms of your business. Ensure that you feel comfortable with the language and structure of your pitch, and that there aren’t elements you regularly trip over or leave out. The most effective elevator pitches are those that are delivered smoothly and confidently – and even the best public speakers need to practice this.