Elevator pitches aren’t just for sales reps. They’re also an incredibly effective way for small business owners to market themselves and their ideas.
Despite being a brief and persuasive sales proposal, however, an elevator pitch isn’t intended to sell your product or service directly. It’s meant to serve as a compelling invitation to your audience to join you in further discussion.
What is an Elevator Pitch?
As a small business owner, the more accomplished you become at sharing your ideas in a practiced, conversational manner, the bigger the dividends you can expect in terms of fresh business prospects.
An elevator pitch is a short, face-to-face interaction: a simple, but powerful tool for making people want to know more about you and your company.
And since research suggests we only have about 8 seconds to capture our audience’s attention - and earn the chance to deliver a concise, convincing, well-crafted proposal - elevator pitches are so named because they take no longer than the average elevator ride to present.
The Benefits of a Solid Sales Pitch
There are many ways to benefit from having an elevator pitch at the ready – not the least of which is the way it can help break the ice at networking events. But creating a punchy, authentic pitch will also make it easier to:
- sell potential suppliers, partners, and investors on your business,
- connect with new customers,
- promote the advantages of a new product or service to existing clientele,
- get a team member on board with a new project or process,
- market your company to a promising hire
You can even craft an elevator pitch to help clarify your goals, or get better at appealing to your target market. Even if you never put your finished pitch out there, just going through the process of creating one will increase your confidence when discussing your business.
What to Include in an Elevator Pitch
No matter its ultimate purpose, the psychology and structure of every elevator pitch is the same. It has to generate interest in your product, idea, or project in 60 seconds or less - and it has to include certain elements.
Your Sales Hook
At its core, your elevator pitch is a sales pitch. So, if you want to grab the interest of the person you’re talking to, you’ll need to hook their attention up front. You might accomplish this by:
- Briefly describing how working with you, your service, or your strategy translates directly into profits, time savings, or other advantages, or by
- Opening with an anecdote, statistic, or question designed to lead into the dialogue you want to create
In either case, your hook should keep your audience listening long enough to steer them toward wanting to know more about you or your idea.
Bearing in mind that you have less than a minute to get your idea across, you should start your pitch with a sentence or two about who you are and how you help others succeed. You may want to use your company’s mission statement as a guide to outlining your problem-solving project or strategy. But whatever your approach, the key is to build on the excitement generated by your sales hook.
Introduce your target or ideal customer by touching on their pain points, and by explaining how your business or idea resolves these challenges. This is your chance to present:
- your value proposition,
- numbers and statistics proving your success in delivering that value, and
- the link between this data and the specific idea you’re selling
You probably gave a great deal of thought to what sets you or your business apart when you created your business plan. Now it’s time to share that competitive advantage in person.
Do you offer a unique strategy or personal experience dealing with the problem you’re planning to solve? Is your product more innovative than that of your competitors? Are your processes more effective at producing results?
Make it clear to your audience why your business is better – and why your idea is worth listening to.
Don’t ever conclude an elevator pitch without providing a clear call to action. You should always be ready to give any contact a way to follow up or learn more – whether that involves handing out your business card, directing them to your website, or inviting them to an upcoming event.
Once the elements of your elevator pitch are compiled and connected in a seamless, conversational way, make sure you memorize and practice your delivery until it sounds natural.
While it will always be important to get more people to buy into your business, your definitive goal should be to get more people to buy into you. Crafting an elevator pitch that’s personable and enthusiastic - without overselling - will help make that happen.
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