3 Essential Elements for the Best Elevator Pitch
Does your Elevator Pitch rise to the top, or sink to the Basement? At a recent networking event, the host asked each person to give a brief elevator pitch about their business. As I listened to each person’s pitch, it reminded me of the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. I’m pretty sure that the people were taking turns, but at some point it seemed like people were just repeating what the previous person said. Each attendee only described what they did. Contrary to popular belief, your elevator pitch should not describe what you do. Here is why and how to fix it so you have the best elevator pitch.
1. Start With an Elevator Rant
A great elevator pitch starts with a rant: Imagine this scenario. You are on an elevator to the 40th floor when the doors open on the second floor and two people from your ideal client get on. It turns out they start complaining about something you or your company are the best resource to solve their problem. What do their complaints sound like? I used to call this “The problems you solve.” My good friend, Bob London of London Ink, coined a term Elevator Rant – which is now my favorite term.
The elevator rant for a client of an IT cloud services firm might sound like “We are sick of not being able to access our systems reliably from outside the office, and we spend a fortune maintaining systems that were supposed to save us money.” The first part on an elevator pitch based on this concept would be “Our clients come to us when…” and then insert the rant.
Think about what your ideal client would complain about – knowing that you are the best person or company on the planet to solve that issue. Take the first step and identify the elevator rant that your clients might come to you for a solution. Start with “I’m sick and tired of…” Starting that way will help to define areas where they are likely to spend money on a solution. The goal is to describe a problem you solve that the ideal client would feel resonates with their rant.
2. Who Is Your Best Fit?
But, if someone asked you what you do, you could not simply quote the elevator rant (well, you could… but it might be a bit awkward). So, how do you go from the elevator rant to a solid elevator pitch?
The goal is to get to the truth in buying and selling situations. Let’s start with a foundation for your elevator pitch.
Of all the people you meet as potential clients, what percentage of them are such a good fit that you are likely to do business with them? When I ask this question to successful CEOs’ the number is usually less than 5%. I have yet to meet a business that feels they are the best fit for more than half of the people they meet. Though you may hope for better odds. The reality is that for most businesses, less than 10% of the people you meet would be a good fit and are likely to do business with you such that money changes hands.
3. The Same Side Selling Elevator Pitch
In our upcoming book, Same Side Selling, my co-author Jack Quarles and I share a concept called the Same Side Selling Elevator Pitch. The pitch starts with the elevator rant as the foundation. It then uses a formula with these three elements: Entice, Disarm, and Discover.
(1) Entice Entice the customer by identifying something you have that might be of interest
(2) Disarm Make it clear that you are not there to sell them, but merely see if there is a fit
(3) Discover Trigger a discovery phase where you learn about them (instead of a meeting talking about your stuff).
Let’s say your client’s elevator rant is “We are sick and tired of our IT systems going down and losing hundreds of billable hours per year because of it.” The Same Side Selling Elevator Pitch might be:
[Entice] We work with clients who are frustrated that their IT systems go down which costs them hundreds of billable hours. They tell us they can’t afford to continue facing that problem. For the right clients, we find we can help them rely on their systems to always be available whether they are in the office, or working remotely.[Disarm] We find we can have a dramatic impact on less than half of the organizations we meet with about this issue. But, if addressing those problems is important to you, [Discover] we’d be happy to speak with you to learn more about your situation to see if we can help.
I shared this concept in a recent podcast interview with Tom Cooper from Brighthill Group. In case you missed the interview, you can listen to it here: “Dump your elevator pitch. What you need is a great “Elevator Rant!”.
The goal of Same Side Selling pitch is to put yourself and the buyer on the same side of the table. Using this approach, you are trying to determine if you have a fit to solve an important issue. You are not just trying to sell something.
Avoid Basement Elevator Pitches
Some elevator pitches are destined for the basement on a freight elevator. Here are examples of what I call a basement elevator pitch. One person said she was a partner with a full-service law firm. Another said he was with a cutting-edge accounting firm (really?). The third person said, “We sell cloud services.” I’m pretty sure that means that they provide cloud-based information technology services. I say that only because I’m not familiar with any “service” that clouds in the sky might require.
Explaining The Problem Changes Everything
Let’s say your car makes a clicking sound when you turn the corner on the way home. When you get home and open a browser on your computing device of choice, what do you type? My guess is that you don’t type “Innovative, licensed auto service center with three locations.” Most of us would type “clicking noise while turning” and probably include the make and model of the car for precision.
Essentially, we type a description of the problem we are having, not the solution. So, if your elevator pitch talks about WHAT you do instead of WHY people might need what you do, then your message is likely falling on deaf ears.
It’s Your Turn
Share your Same Side Selling Elevator Pitch in the comments. We’ll be sure to offer feedback to each comment (no matter how many there are). You can also sign up for a free preview chapter of Same Side Selling. The preview chapter releases mid-January.