How to Craft the Perfect Elevator Pitch

Here at Inclinator, we’re serious about bringing our customers the safest, most reliable home elevators in the industry, but we also like to have a little elevator-themed fun from time to time. In that spirit, we’d like to introduce the “elevator pitch” or elevator speech. Have you heard of it?

This useful business tool can help “elevate” students, entrepreneurs, and seasoned businesspeople alike to land new opportunities and deals with a simple and informal (but rehearsed) conversation, perhaps inside a literal elevator.

And while you likely won’t be able to employ the elevator pitch for career growth or profit in your home elevator (unless you invite that dream client or your boss over to your house to take a little ride with you), our Inclinator Elevette models are excellent for rehearsals. 

What is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is so called because it’s meant to be your shortest possible introduction to your business, your product, your idea, or even just yourself to grab a potential lead’s attention – one that you can deliver in the time it takes to ride an elevator in the average office building. And while it doesn’t necessarily have to be presented in an elevator, we sure believe that’s the best venue!

There isn’t consensus on exactly how long an elevator pitch should be, but the shorter, the better. Some experts suggest 20 to 30 seconds is perfect, while you may be able to stretch it to one or two minutes. It’s important to remember that your pitch needs to provide a little background while making your goal clear to your conversation partner. Engaging with a question and showing just the right amount of sincere enthusiasm are also good tactics.

When and Why You Need an Elevator Pitch

Say you run into your manager as you’re both arriving to work in the morning. You’ve been trying to catch him for a while about a training course you would like your team to take so they can learn some new skills and better serve your company’s clients. This serendipitous moment is perfect for your pitch as the two of you step into the elevator together.

You now have Manager’s full attention for a couple of brief moments, and because you’ve planned this conversation in advance (we’re not saying you purposely got to work early and waited for him to arrive at the elevator or anything…), you know exactly what to say to gain support for your proposal. And that’s the main point – you need an elevator pitch to persuade others to help you achieve your goals.

What Makes a Perfect Elevator Pitch?

Continuing with the example above, what do you say to your manager to convince him that spending money on training for your team is a good use of company resources? In other words, what makes your elevator pitch likely to succeed? These are the best ingredients:

1.      A good introduction

When you’re talking to your manager about an idea for your team, it’s probable that he already knows you quite well, so your introduction would focus on presenting him with the problem you’re trying to solve. For example, your team is having issues using a new project management system because not everyone understands the software, and this is causing arguments and frustration among team members.

If you’re crafting a different type of pitch, for instance, to introduce yourself to someone who you’re interested in gaining as a new client but who does not already know you, your intro should focus more on who you are and how you can help the person you’re pitching to. In these scenarios, you may not focus on a specific problem, but more on “selling” a new idea.

2.      Knowing your audience

This may actually be your first step when you’re crafting your elevator pitch. As we’ve shown above, you need to understand who you’re planning to engage with your speech to know how best to approach your introduction and structure your “ask” to get a positive response.

Do a little research to determine how the person you’re planning to pitch might react. For example, is your manager a very careful budgeter who needs clear justification before writing a check for any project? You’ll want to appeal to his concerns about return on investment when asking him to purchase team training – don’t just try to wow him with how exciting the presenter is or that this training course will be very educational.

3.      Having a clear goal

This is critical. Remember that you may only have half a minute to state your case and win over your conversation partner. You want to be memorable, and you want to receive a positive response to your pitch. It may sound obvious, but you need to understand what you want before you can get it.

4.      Expressing your Unique Selling Point or Proposition (USP)

What makes your particular proposal unlike anything that your target audience (aka your manager in our example so far) has heard before? What makes this training program for your team the best possible one they could experience? Why is training the best way to solve people’s discomfort with using the new system?

5.      Asking an engaging question

Did you see what we did in the previous point? Asking your audience a question that gets them actively involved in your proposal may be all you need to do to win them over. Get your conversation partner thinking about what you have to say instead of just expecting him or her to politely listen to you talk.

Putting Your Elevator Pitch Together

Now that you know what goes into crafting a great elevator pitch, try your hand at creating one with these tips.

Brainstorming

What do you want to pitch? We can all think of something that we’d like to accomplish in our professional lives. It may not be winning your manager over to your idea for more training, but perhaps you want a raise (who doesn’t)? Or maybe your company has a new product line that you’d like to convince your dealers to pick up and sell. Take some time to write out your best big ideas that just need a little support from other people.

Red Pen Editing

If you’re familiar with writing and proofreading processes, you know that marking up a document in red ink is what professionals do to identify things that should be removed or changed. Try this technique for yourself on your written-out brainstorm ideas, eliminating unclear thoughts and unnecessary information. Having a friend do this for you can be even more helpful to get someone else’s perspective on your pitch.

Practicing

As we mentioned at the very beginning of this post, rehearsing your pitch in an actual elevator can help you build the confidence you need to present your pitch to a VIP later. Climb aboard your office’s elevator by yourself and go through your pitch out loud, even if it feels a little silly talking to yourself.

  • PRO TIP: Use a stopwatch and the recorder app on your phone to time and record yourself during your practice run. You can learn whether you need to cut your pitch for time and check that your tone of voice sounds just right.

Deliver Your Elevator Pitch

Once you’ve honed your pitch and practiced a few times, you’re ready for primetime! You know your audience, have a great hook and a clear goal. Now you just need that “by chance” moment to give your presentation.

After you’ve spoken to your chosen elevator pitch recipient, don’t forget about the power of a quick follow-up. Be sure you have your conversation partner’s contact information so you can send this person a message later if you don’t get a definite answer from them right away. Plenty of great elevator pitches are wasted because the presenter fails to follow-up!

Looking for the ultimate rehearsal aid for your next elevator pitch? Get in touch with us here at Inclinator today to learn how you can improve accessibility in your home (and get a great place to practice your pitches) when you install a new residential elevator.