Let's get one thing straight: If you're connecting with a prospect for the very first time, you should never paste your elevator pitch into your email or say it as soon as they pick up the phone.

Because that doesn't work. You sound like a salesperson trying to sell them -- which makes the modern buyer run for the hills.

So when are elevator pitches effective? When you're talking to a stranger (at a networking event, in line, while riding public transit, or yes, on an elevator), and they ask, "What do you do?" or "Where do you work?"

In situations like these, you need a short, snappy, easy-to-grasp explanation of your company and its products. The person you're speaking with might turn out to be a perfect fit -- or know someone who is.

An elevator pitch is never an opportunity to close a deal. It's an opportunity to close more of your prospect's attention and time. It's a quick introduction to you, your company, and how you can help your prospect. 

Pull it out at networking events, conferences, warm calls -- and even job interviews or career fairs. Keep your elevator pitch goal-oriented (i.e., "I help companies like yours increase production by up to 30% without additional cost."), and always end with a business card or request to connect on LinkedIn.

Remember to be engaging and friendly, and practice your pitch, so it's clean, concise, and well-paced.

How do you create an effective elevator pitch? Let's take a look.

1. Who are you?

Before jumping into your elevator pitch, you'll need to introduce yourself to the person you're talking to. Write a sentence about who you are and what your role is at the company (e.g., "I'm a sales rep at Better Than the Rest Cable."). This will help you start the conversation off on the right foot.

Remember not to ramble. Researcher Diana Tamir says, "This helps to explain why people so obsessively engage in this behavior. It's because it provides them with some sort of subjective value: It feels good, basically."

Tamir's research shows that when we talk about ourselves, our brains show activity in the areas linked to value and motivation. Our bodies are rewarded when we talk about ourselves, so, especially when we're in high-stress situations, we resort to what feels good. 

The problem with this in an elevator pitch scenario is that you haven't earned the prospect's interest or attention yet. They don't care who you are yet, how long you've worked in your company, or what job you had before. Keep the information about yourself to a minimum and earn the right to share more later in the deal.

2. What does your company do?

Have a clear understanding of what your company does. What's the company's mission and goals for its product or service? Include a section in your pitch where you introduce the company. The more you know about the business, the easier it will be to cater your pitch to the person you're talking to.

For example, "I'm a sales rep at Better Than the Rest Cable. We help hotels across the U.S. pair with the perfect cable provider and plan for their region and needs.

This is a succinct description of what the company does -- without getting into the weeds. If you were to be cut off after these two sentences, the prospect would still know exactly who you are and what your company does.

3. What's the value proposition?

What does your company do exceptionally well that sets its product or service apart from the rest? Write a brief, 1-2 sentence statement about the value the product or service provides to current customers.

You've introduced yourself and your company, now it's time to get to the goods. Let's see what that looks like: 

"I'm a sales rep at Better Than the Rest Cable. We help hotels across the U.S. pair with the perfect cable provider and plan for their region and needs. With regional experts assigned to each account, we help hotels identify the most cost-effective and guest-delighting cable plan for them."

In one sentence, you've told the prospect what sets us apart and how you can bring them value. You've likely peaked their interest, but how can you really grab their attention? Read on.

4. Grab their attention.

Pull in your audience with an exciting story about a customer or the company founders. Or offer up a fascinating fact or statistic about the product. An attention-grabbing hook keeps people engaged with what you're saying. Let's finish up our pitch below with an attention-grabbing statistic.

"I'm a sales rep at Better Than the Rest Cable. We help hotels across the U.S. pair with the perfect cable provider and plan for their region and needs. With regional experts assigned to each account, we help hotels identify the most cost-effective and guest-delighting cable plan for them. On average, we're able to save hotels up to 25% on their annual cable bills."

5. Read and edit the pitch.

Read your pitch aloud and make sure it sounds natural. If your pitch is overly formal, you could come off as stuffy and uptight. Instead, make your pitch conversational. This will keep your audience captivated and more likely to continue the conversation. The pitch we've been practicing with is an even 30 seconds long. This is a good length and gives you time to elaborate if your prospect 

If you're looking for some inspiration, look no further. The following elevator pitch examples illustrate six different ways to describe what you can offer.

What Not to Do in an Elevator Pitch

Before we look at some good examples, let's look at what not to do. 

1. The Rambler

Length of Pitch: 45 seconds

I've been a rep at Sales-R-Us for five years now. They're the best company I've ever worked for. I've loved my time there. I started as a BDR and have worked my way up to a senior position. I've never looked back. I also love the services we sell. I can't wait to tell you about them. Sales-R-Us helps companies become more efficient with their sales through training, evaluation, leadership management, and that's just to name a few. We have a unique approach that's been honed by lots of sales experts over the years, and I've seen our solution really help a lot of companies and teams. I've had a many clients whose businesses have been saved because of our genius solution. I know we can do the same for you. Would you be interested in learning more?

This elevator pitch is not effective because:

  • It's way too long
  • The rep spends way too much time talking about himself
  • It never gets specific or actionable
  • It never provides actual examples or attention-grabbing facts

30 Second Elevator Pitch Examples

1. Attention-Grabbing Question

Length of Pitch: 30 seconds

Has your boss ever asked you to "whip up a quick report before the end of the day"? You say yes with a sinking heart -- because you know it'll be the opposite of quick. The founders of my company, AnswerASAP, constantly dealt with this problem in their roles as marketing executives. So they created a tool that puts all your data in one place and creates unique reports within 30 seconds or less.

This elevator pitch is effective because:

  • It grabs your attention with a question
  • It reminds you of an annoying -- and frequent -- pain
  • It demonstrates empathy for your situation
  • It's straightforward and doesn't use jargon

2. Reality Check

Length of Pitch: 30 seconds

Every day, the average marketer spends half an hour putting together reports. Most of the time, these reports are barely glanced at -- or worse, ignored altogether. AnswerASAP, which stores all of your data from every tool your business uses, is a game-changer here. Just type what report you want: For example, "A bar chart of revenue from every lead source in the past month." You'll get your report in 30 seconds.

This elevator pitch is effective because:

  • It makes you realize the true productivity cost of reporting
  • It sparks your frustration
  • It helps you understand exactly how the product works with a simple example

3. Credibility Boost

Length of Pitch: 30 seconds

As an account executive for AnswerASAP, I talk to hundreds of marketers per month. And 99% of them hate creating reports. It's time-consuming, it's tedious, and it's usually not your highest priority. That's where our tool comes in -- it pulls from all of your data to create any report you want in less than the time it takes to pour a cup of coffee.

This elevator pitch is effective because:

  • It demonstrates the speaker's authority
  • It reinforces how strongly you hate making reports
  • It uses a common metaphor to highlight the tool's ease-of-use

4. Short and Sweet

Length of Pitch: 30 seconds

The founders of my company were originally marketers. The worst part of their day, by far, was … Want to take a guess? No, it wasn't arguing with Sales. They detested making reports. I don't blame them. You know what a pain in the neck it is. That's why they created AnswerASAP. You can literally create any report you want in a matter of seconds.

This elevator pitch is effective because:

  • It's short and sweet
  • It explains the inspiration for the product
  • It includes the company's origin story, which is scientifically proven to make it 22 times more memorable

5. Surprise Ending

Length of Pitch: 30 seconds

You want to know how many leads from your webinar campaign became customers versus leads from your trade show booth. But only customers who bought two products -- and weren't already in your database.

How long would it take you to create that report?

If you had AnswerASAP, a data and reporting tool, you'd already know. It creates reports in a matter of seconds.

This elevator pitch is effective because:

  • It has a "surprise ending"
  • It illustrates how valuable the product is in a creative way
  • It forces you to compare your current situation to a better world

6. Customer Story

Length of Pitch: 30 seconds

Siena Rosen, a marketer at Dunder Mifflin, used to spend 30 minutes per day manually creating reports. Now that she uses AnswerASAP, that's gone down to four minutes. She's making twice as many reports in less time. Our tool helps marketers like Siena answer any question on their mind (or their boss's) nearly instantly. If you're curious, I can explain more.

This elevator pitch is effective because:

  • It uses a customer example to give the product credibility
  • It shows a clear and compelling "before and after"
  • It demonstrates value
  • It gives you a chance to say, "Sure, tell me more," or "I'm good, thank you."

Remember, an elevator pitch should only come at someone else's prompting. If you're spontaneously reciting it to random people, you're not doing yourself any favors. But if they ask, you want to be prepared with an interesting, well-crafted pitch.

To learn more about networking, check out the best networking apps next.

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Originally published Aug 20, 2019 9:54:00 PM, updated August 21 2019

Topics:

Networking for Sales