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An elevator pitch is an abbreviated sales pitch that salespeople give when they have limited time to convince a lead to purchase their product or service. Elevator pitching is an important skill to have, as it allows you to take advantage of more opportunities, whether you’re on-the-spot or at planned networking events. To hone your delivery of an elevator pitch, let’s break down what it is, how to build your own, and how to deliver it in a consumable way.
An elevator pitch is a condensed form of a sales pitch, used to communicate the benefits of your product or service when you don’t have time for a longer discussion. This usually takes place when you meet a new potential customer in public, such as at business networking events. Because elevator pitches are brief, the goal is typically to secure a meeting with the new lead for further discussion.
When you make an elevator pitch to a prospect, you spend as little as 30 seconds explaining the value your product or service would bring to their life. The reason it’s referred to as an “elevator pitch” is that you should be able to clearly communicate your value proposition in the span of an elevator ride. Effective elevator pitches typically take a full-blown sales pitch and condense it into three key elements, ending with a call-to-action (CTA) suggesting next steps.
The three key elements of an elevator pitch include:
Elevator pitches contrast with sales pitches in that with a sales pitch, you might’ve had prior interactions with a lead, and can spend more time tailoring your pitch to their specific needs and diving deeper into the benefits and value. Full-blown sales pitches are also often premeditated and can take place during a sales presentation or something similar, while elevator pitches are more ad-hoc with less time to prepare and pitch.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at how to create an elevator pitch of your own.
When creating your elevator pitch, it's helpful to first understand your full sales pitch so you can appropriately condense it into a shorter format. Formore information, check out our article on creating a sales pitch. There, you'll find a step-by-step process as well as examples to use as a guide.
The main difference between creating a sales pitch and an elevator pitch is the lack of a discovery process and a shorter timeframe for delivery. In situations where an elevator pitch is necessary, such as at a networking event, you usually haven’t had prior contact to uncover the lead’s objectives. When you’re creating an elevator pitch, you need to therefore put together something general that works with a majority of your target market.
Here are the steps to creating a winning elevator pitch:
Here is an example of an elevator pitch that follows these steps:
“How often do you find sales education articles that actually break things down into actionable steps? Not too often? We noticed that too, and so we created Selling Signals, an online sales publication for sales professionals. We focus on providing detailed guides and independent product reviews not found elsewhere. Find our articles at SellingSignals.com.”
Now, let’s break down each of these steps in detail, along with the example, so that you can craft a quality elevator pitch of your own.
Coming up with an ideal customer profile is a vital step in creating any generalized sales tool. Essentially, you are narrowing down the demographic details (e.g., age, sex, job title, location) and firmographics (e.g., industry type, company size) of your target audience.
This is how you will discover the general problems your market needs your product or service to solve and ensure that your lead will actually benefit from your value offering. Try using a tool like HubSpot’s Make My Persona feature to help you define your ideal customer profile.
In the example we provided, our target audience comprises sales professionals and business owners of working age (typically defined as 15-64) that are looking for educational sales content on the internet. Location isn’t as important to us, but our experience makes our content more focused toward sales professionals in North America.
A unique sales proposition (USP) is your company’s primary differentiator from your competition that adds value to your ideal customer. Your USP should be 1-2 sentences and can be thought of as a header and subheader or a memorable tagline. Strong USPs typically include a few different aspects of a company, such as how your product is made, how you deliver it, and what guarantees you offer your customers.
In order to figure out what your USP is, ask yourself the following questions:
The answers to each of these questions can help guide your pitch scripts and center your elevator pitch on what really matters to your ideal customer. For the Selling Signals example, our USP is our focus on actionable content that lays out exactly what readers need to do. This sets us apart from publications that focus on more general advice articles.
Now that you’ve narrowed down your USP, it’s time to get working on the actual pitch script.
With a sales pitch, you’ll often hold a discovery call to learn about your lead before diving into a sales pitch. With an elevator pitch, you won’t have that luxury. Because of this, starting out your elevator pitch with a scripted question helps you decide how you’re going to position your USP. It should be a general, open-ended question that allows for a variety of answers that you can leverage with your pitch.
Here are some solid discovery questions to open your elevator pitch with:
All of these have a chance to expose a problem that your product or service can solve. You can then lean on the aspect of your USP that most closely aligns with the problem, which we’ll cover in a later step. In addition to informing your pitch, this question also makes the pitch flow more naturally in the conversation, since they offered information for you to work with.
In our example above, the discovery question is “How often do you find sales education articles that actually break things down into actionable steps?” Since our target audience is sales professionals looking for better sales education content, their answer will dictate whether or not they’re a good fit to continue with our pitch
Memorize a 10-second description of your product or service and deliver it in every elevator pitch. This will make your pitch easier to remember and ensure that every lead gets the same base level of information. Making this part standard will also keep you from leaving out vital information on what you have to offer, while still keeping your product description short.
You’ll want to include the following in your product explanation:
These are useful bits of information to each of your leads, which is why you will keep this part the same every time you give an elevator pitch. After this point, you’ll feature the aspect of your USP that most closely relates to the lead’s discovery question answer to give them one tangible use for the product. This will make the elevator pitch feel tailored to them.
Referring back to our Selling Signals example, the explanation is: “We noticed that too, and so we created Selling Signals, an online sales publication for sales professionals. ” We start with a segue that connects their answer to our explanation, then we cover the main function of our product and how it solves their problem.
Now that your lead knows what your product is, it’s time to give them a relevant example of your product or service’s value and how it stands apart from the competition. This usually means that you’re verbalizing the USP you identified in step two using tangible examples to demonstrate value.
Explaining your USP can sound like the following:
You have enough time to cover a few different aspects of your USP, but you want to make sure that you lean on the ones that are most relevant to your lead. Your discovery question at the beginning of the pitch will help guide you on this step, so make sure you’re listening closely to your lead’s response.
For our example, we explain that our USP is that “We focus on providing detailed guides and independent product reviews not found elsewhere.” This explains the specifics of what sets us apart, enticing the lead to favor us over the competition.
Like any good pitch, a strong CTA is the way that you convert interest to action. In order for a CTA to convert consistently, you should deliver it as an offer, as opposed to an open-ended question. Instead of asking “Would you want to talk more about this later?” offer a specific time slot for a follow-up meeting.
Your strong CTA should look something like this:
Doing it this way gives your lead a more direct outline of the next step in your process, and puts them in a position to give you an answer right then and there. While most sales questions are open-ended by design, the CTA should always be a yes-or-no question or a direct instruction. Your elevator pitch is simply a quick intro to your product, and this CTA is meant to give you more time with the lead to dive deeper.
Since our example is for a free educational website, “Find our articles at SellingSignals.com” is a strong enough CTA. Sellers with longer lead times, however, should aim for something closer to the bulleted examples in this section, as they help book an appointment with the lead.
Now that you’ve created your elevator pitch, it’s time to figure out how best to deliver it. Words on paper aren’t worth much if you aren’t able to communicate them effectively to your target audience. So, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you get the most out of your pitch.
Here are our tips on delivering an elevator pitch:
Incorporating these into your delivery will make your pitches more effective and build stronger relationships with your leads. It’s easy to just read and repeat when you’re working with a script, but it pays to refine your elevator pitch.
In addition to the key elements to include and steps to follow when creating and delivering your pitch, there are a few main tips you should keep in mind if you want to up your elevator pitch game. The following are our tips to develop an effective elevator pitch:
All of these elements are about maximizing your lead’s attention span. You want to be respectful of their time, and you don’t want that limitation to cause you to fumble your pitch or fail to grab their attention.
Big companies use elevator pitches in their advertising all the time. Since online advertising has to stand out amongst endless content feeds in a short timespan, they demonstrate some of the core principles you should be including in your elevator pitches. So, we’ve compiled some great examples of video ads that demonstrate elevator pitches from reputable companies. Let’s dive into what each of them does best, and what you can carry over into your elevator pitches in the future.
HelloFresh is a meal kit delivery service that delivers recipes and their ingredients for their customers to cook at home. Their social media advertising communicates the relevant, tangible solutions that your market desires in less than 30 seconds.
In this ad, they have their sponsored celebrity quickly explain the entirety of their USP without sounding rushed. The pace is conversational, but deliberate, and leaves enough room for an intro and outro that makes the message flow naturally. If they needed a salesperson to put an elevator pitch together, they could easily just have them swap the outro for a genuine call-to-action and mimic this ad word-for-word.
The key takeaway here is that communicating every aspect of your USP doesn’t need to take a long time, so long as you practice and don’t get too caught up in minor details. This ad doesn’t dive too deep on any one part of the USP, so it is able to cover all of the main points without going over on time.
Harry’s Razors is a razor delivery service focused on making quality razors affordable and convenient. They offer razors with disposable blades that you can switch out, and they’ll send it to your home on a subscription basis to support a lower price point. Their ad is unique because it tells a quick story, which could be useful in an elevator pitch.
The method Harry’s uses here is interesting. They point out an issue in their industry that their customer likely doesn’t even know about by explaining how razors became so expensive in the first place. This turns their pitch into an interesting story, which enhances the experience for their audience. It also makes it a win for the lead even if they aren’t interested in the product, because they took some valuable information from the exchange.
By sharing exactly what makes their industry less consumer-friendly, they can more easily position themselves as the “hero” of the story. In order to drive this point home, they mention their USP: They deliver more affordable razors than their competitors, and do so in a more convenient way. If you can manage to appeal to emotion while still communicating your key points, it should increase your success.
GoodRx is an app-based service that helps people get the lowest possible price on prescription medications. They search for, and organize, coupons for all of the pharmacies around the customer and find them the best price in their region. They have an ad that dramatizes the entire elevator pitch process.
The other two ads we showed could be converted into elevator pitches, but this one is actually an elevator pitch performed by an actor. He starts with a question to identify the lead’s issue, explains his product and how it solves that issue in a unique way, and tells her exactly how to use it. If you cut the outro, the conversation only lasts about 40 seconds, putting it close to the recommended length of 30 seconds.
This ad is a middle ground between the other two as well. Similar to Harry’s, GoodRx explains a core issue in their industry that their ideal customer may not know about, but goes into less detail to ensure they can explain more about the product itself. Overall, it smoothly delivers all aspects of their USP in a way that is informative to the lead.
An elevator pitch is a concise way to demonstrate the value of your product to as many people as possible. By compressing your messaging, you make your pitch more “portable” and allow for networking opportunities to present themselves even in time-restricted lead nurturing situations. If you can master this process, you’ll grow your network and convert more leads in no time.