Read our top closing sales tips from expert salespeople to learn how best to ask for the deal, including preparation and follow-up.
An elevator pitch is an abbreviated sales pitch that sellers give when they only have about 30 seconds to convince a new lead to consider purchasing their product or service. The goal of this pitch is to communicate the key information to a potential customer you've just met and pique their interest in your business. Once you have their attention, you can plan a longer meeting so you can qualify them, tell them more about your offer, and enter them into your sales pipeline.
Salespeople use an elevator pitch to quickly learn a new lead's high-level goal or pain point, then communicate the related benefits of their product or service and how it could bring value to their life (traditionally, keeping it to the average length of an elevator ride). To create an effective elevator pitch, you can identify your unique selling proposition, then incorporate it into a sales pitch and condense that pitch into three key elements, or you can write an elevator pitch separately.
The three key elements of an elevator pitch include:
When you give a sales pitch to a lead, you'll usually have had prior interactions with them, so you can spend time tailoring the pitch to their specific needs and diving deeper into the benefits and value. On the other hand, elevator pitches are more ad-hoc and give you less time to prepare and pitch. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how to create and deliver an elevator pitch of your own on cold calls or at networking events, plus examples and tips you can follow to improve your pitch.
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. To learn how, check out our article on creating a sales pitch, where you'll find a step-by-step process as well as examples to use as a guide. In this article below, we'll explain how to write an elevator pitch from scratch, so the additional reading isn't required.
When you’re creating an elevator pitch, you'll plan to learn about a brand new lead's situation at a high level and write a general explanation that works with a majority of your target market. Unlike a full sales pitch, in situations where an elevator pitch is necessary such as at a business networking event, you usually won't have had prior contact to carry out a true discovery process and uncover the lead’s objectives.
Here are the steps to creating a winning elevator pitch:
Now, let’s talk about each of these steps in detail so that you can craft a quality elevator pitch of your own. We've also created a free general elevator pitch script template, which we'll break down within the steps so you can use it to create or inspire your pitch.
First, determine your unique selling proposition (USP), which is your company’s primary differentiator from your competition that adds value to your ideal customer. Your USP should be only a few words long and include a few key aspects of your company, such as the affordability of your product or service, how easy it is to use, or any guarantees you offer your customers.
To figure out what your USP is, follow these steps:
These steps can guide your sales pitch script and help center your elevator pitch on what really matters to your ideal customer. Examples of USPs include “Our proprietary X technology is 50% faster than our competition’s,” “We make our X with all-natural ingredients, free from synthetics contributing to long-term health consequences," and “We offer a free five-year warranty with every purchase.” Assuming they focus on what matters to the ideal customer, these are great messages.
Now that you’ve narrowed down your USP, it’s time to get working on the elevator pitch script.
With a sales pitch, you’ll often hold a discovery call to learn about your lead's budget, needs, decision-making authority, timeline, and/or other info 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 you can solve. You can then talk about your product or service and lean on the aspect of your USP that most closely aligns with their problem. 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.
Here's the discovery question part of our free template, which asks about the way your lead currently handles a process or task:
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'll keep this part the same every time you give an elevator pitch. Below is how you can position your product or service plus its tiers, purpose, intended audience, and USP:
Like any good pitch, a strong call-to-action (CTA) is the way that you convert interest to action. For a CTA to convert consistently, deliver it as a specific offer as opposed to an overly casual 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, like the below:
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 steps to help you get the most out of your pitch.
Here are the steps to deliver an elevator pitch:
Let's look at each of these delivery steps more closely.
Run through your pitch in the mirror, time it, and practice it with your coworkers as much as possible so that your delivery is consistent and peer-reviewed and you’re familiar with tailoring your pitch to a lead you've just met. Trying to think on your feet and deliver a brief, polished elevator pitch can be stressful, but rehearsing it can make you feel more comfortable and confident.
Get prepared to share materials that can help your new lead learn about your business and/or get in touch with you. If you're headed to a networking event, bring a few business cards and/or brochures with you. If you're sending a cold email, include a relevant link or attachment. And if you're making a cold call, be prepared to send digital materials in a follow-up email or calendar invite.
Keep your materials clean and simple for new leads that hear your elevator pitch. The priority is to give them the key information to supplement your conversations. Providing too much information for them read could overwhelm them and cause them to decline the opportunity to work together.
If you meet a potential lead at a networking event, make some small talk before diving into your elevator pitch. This can help you come off as authentic and keep you from seeming salesy. However, keep small talk minimal on cold calls and in cold emails — a brief intro can help get a lead open to hearing your elevator pitch, but it's also important to get to the point quickly in those settings.
Recite the script you've written and practiced, portraying confidence and a desire to help your new contact throughout. Ask your discovery question, and give them time to respond, whether they choose a short, simple answer or decide to elaborate. Next, lead into the explanation of your product or service, how it relates to your lead's answer about their problem or goal, and why the product is better than anything else they'll find out there.
Tell the lead that you believe your business can help them and that you'd love to learn more about them in a longer conversation. Ask if they're available at a specific time and date, as well as whether they'd prefer to meet in person or via phone or videoconference. When you find a time that works, let them know what they can expect from you, e.g., a calendar invitation with the meeting details or an email with some materials to look over before the conversation if they'd like.
While it's helpful to understand how to write and deliver an elevator pitch using a template or from scratch, what really makes everything come together are examples of these steps in action. We've provided four sample situations below, including B2B and B2C scenarios. All four examples start with a discovery question, then go on to explain the product or service using the key details we discussed above, then end with a strong CTA that suggests next steps.
This example uses our free template to show how a CRM salesperson might talk about their product's automation features and get a new lead interested in learning more. It teases a few of the features that would help the lead save time and then asks them for a follow-up chat so the seller can learn more about their process and state how they can help.
Discovery Question: "How do you handle lead management right now?"
(Lead responds with an overview of their lead management process.)
Explanation of Your Product or Service: "That’s been a common way for sales teams to manage their new leads and tasks, but ABC Company noticed that it tends to be really time consuming and takes away from companies’ ability to generate and nurture enough leads since they have to spend so much time on manual data entry. So we developed XYZ CRM, which automates data entry, appointments, tasks and reminders, and more. We even have a premium level that scores leads so you can focus on the ones that are most likely to close. The coolest part is that the CRM comes with 24/7 support and a 30-day free trial."
Strong CTA With Next Steps: "I’d love to learn more about you and see if we might be a fit to help get the most mundane parts of lead management off your plate. What do you say we connect for a call on Thursday at 1:00?"
This B2B service elevator pitch starts with the growth goals discovery question we listed in the steps above, then uses the lead's answer to talk about the seller's lead generation company and ask for a meeting.
Discovery Question: "Do you have any growth goals for the year?"
(Lead responds with high-level revenue goals.)
Explanation of Your Product or Service: "That’s a really common goal, especially since companies had trouble growing revenue and customers during the pandemic. What's cool about my company, ABC Company, is that we actually have 20 years of experience generating relevant leads for financial services firms like yours so you can focus on nurturing and converting them into customers. We find, generate, and qualify the best leads, and we can book meetings for our clients or even hold the meetings ourselves and convert them to customers in our premium tier. The best part is we guarantee you at least 10 qualified prospects per month."
Strong CTA With Next Steps: "From what we've talked about so far, I think we would actually be a perfect fit to help you grow. Let's connect for a 30-minute call next week — would 2:30 on Tuesday work for you?"
Elevator pitching can also work well for companies that sell directly to consumers. This example shows a conversation between a jeweler and an individual customer, starting with a question about the lead's challenges:
Discovery Question: "What do you find to be the toughest part of buying jewelry?"
(Lead responds with the main reason for their hesitance to buy jewelry — e.g., price.)
Explanation of Your Product or Service: "You're so right — diamonds and other jewelry tend to be way overpriced. I work for ABC Company, and we've made it our priority to provide beautiful jewelry to our price-conscious customers for a fraction of the cost. Our business is completely online, so we don't have the typical expenses that a brick-and-mortar jewelry store has. We've added sophisticated filtering to our site so you can sort by type, color, price, and more. To make everything easy and keep costs down for you, we also offer free shipping, even on returns."
Strong CTA With Next Steps: "You mentioned your anniversary is coming up. Can I show you our site and let you know what some of our most popular pieces are for special occasions?"
Because elevator pitches are so quick, they're a good fit for door-to-door salespeople who speak with cold leads. Here's an example of an elevator pitch that a lawn care company could use with a homeowner. It follows the overall structure of a great pitch and touches on the key points of a service explanation (name, levels, purpose, intended audience, and USP).
Discovery Question: "What problems do you have when taking care of your lawn?"
(Lead responds with a struggle regarding regular maintenance, grass quality, etc.)
Explanation of Your Product or Service: "Yeah, I noticed that your property is beautiful and has great potential but your grass tends to be patchy in the front. I represent ABC Company, and we specialize in helping homeowners with shady lawns grow their grass and fill out their entire yards. We offer a few levels of care depending on how often you'd want us to come out and treat your grass. Beyond our awesome results, what we're most proud of is that the treatments are organic and environmentally friendly."
Strong CTA With Next Steps: "If you're interested, I have some pamphlets I could go over with you, and we could get you on the schedule as early as next Wednesday afternoon. How does that sound?"
Feel free to take verbatim the verbiage from the example that most closely matches your own business or use bits and pieces of each one to inspire your own elevator pitch. Keep in mind that it's also a good idea to continually improve your elevator pitch according to how the leads you speak with respond to it.
In addition to the key elements to include, the steps to follow when creating and delivering your pitch, and the examples to emulate, there are a few main tips you should keep in mind if you want to up your elevator pitch game. These include keeping the pitch brief, memorizing it, using statistics when helpful, being conversational and confident, and responding to objections properly.
Typically, winning elevator pitches are no longer than 30 seconds. This helps keep the lead's attention and prevents them from rushing you through your pitch.
Because you’re on a time crunch, rehearse your elevator pitch to the point at which it's completely memorized for off-the-cuff pitching.
When discussing the tangible benefit of your product, consider offering a statistic involving customer satisfaction or results to demonstrate value and build trust.
Keep your words steady and natural, and avoid talking faster or louder than you normally would. Look your lead in the eye and project enthusiasm about your product.
After delivering your pitch, don’t rush into a half-baked response to a lead’s concerns. Think empathetically about what they’re saying, then handle their objections by responding with relevant information.
All of these tips will help you to maximize your lead’s attention span. You want to be respectful of their time, and you don’t want the time limitation to cause you to fumble your pitch or fail to grab their attention.
An elevator pitch is a condensed version of a full sales pitch and is used in situations in which you're pressed for time. While a sales pitch can take a couple minutes to present to a qualified and nurtured lead using detailed information you've discovered about them, an elevator pitch takes only 30 seconds to recite and focuses more on how your product or service can solve a broad issue a brand new lead might be experiencing.
However, both an elevator pitch and a sales pitch incorporate your unique selling proposition plus a problem, solution, and CTA, and both are intended to progress the lead through your sales process so you can continue to nurture them.
An elevator pitch is a concise way to demonstrate the value of your product as quickly as possible. By compressing your messaging, you make your pitch more “portable” and allow for opportunities to present themselves even in time-restricted lead generation and lead nurturing situations. If you can master this process, you’ll grow your network and convert more leads in no time.