Friday, August 29, 2008

Elevator pitch

When getting into sales, it is important to ultimately get your point across to the person that is taking the time to listen to you. In order to be effective and to be respectful of your audience's valuable time, it is crucial to be able to relay your 'message' in few words, with maximum impact.

It is said that many of the most important decisions made on the floor of the United States's Senate are made "within the span of an elevator ride" as a staff aide whispers into a Congressman or Senator's ear while they head down to the floor to cast their vote.

The subsequent term "elevator pitch" is typically used in the commercial context of an entrepreneur pitching an idea to a venture capitalist to receive funding, but clearly the concept of an elevator pitch should appeal to any salesman that wants to be heard and understood within limited time.

Venture capitalists often judge the quality of an idea and team on the basis of the quality of its elevator pitch, and will ask entrepreneurs for the elevator pitch to quickly weed out bad ideas.
Therefore it must be short, concise, and appealing, and not take more, say, 100-150 words.

Key Elements
An effective elevator pitch generally answers questions such as:

Who are we?

What do we offer?

Why should it be interesting to you?

In general, you could say that it is a short pitch, derived from a company's value proposition - the sum of all advantages a company offers, and the core reason why the company could solve a client's problem.

This statement should convince a potential consumer that one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offerings.
Companies use the statement to target customers who will benefit most from using the company's products, and this helps maintain an economic merit.
The ideal value proposition is specific, to the point, and appeals to the customer's strongest decision-making drivers.

My advise is to go through the exercise of a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Strengths and weaknesses pertain to the current plusses and minuses of the (internal) organization. Opportunities and threats can be derived from market conditions (external), and allow you to picture the potential as well as negative market influences.

Depict the strengths and opportunities so that it becomes clear to you how your organization could solve other people's problems by being of service to them, and try to picture which type of organization benefits from your offering. Once you start prospecting organizations that likely have a need for the offering, you'll need to outline the advantages, and address that you understand (but you'd like to learn) there is a need to fulfill - but do it short and concise.

Happy selling!


Lisa said...

Zo snel, zo duidelijk. Mijn dank.

Ik ga er mee aan de slag en als je volgende keer 2 minuten voor mij hebt? ;)


Rob Hook said...

Whilst I do accept the need for some form of introductory statement, the "elevator pitch" is too prescriptive to be of any value. I have know people rehearse it so that they are word perfect. And then get totally thrown when the next person asks them something that is not precisely the question that the elevator pitch would have answered.

It would be better to use the LIFT! Light hearted, Informative, Fascinating and Truthful. said...

Rob, I completely agree with your observation that this is only an introduction and not very concise in itself. The very reason for that is in fact what you have mentioned as being the major pitfall of writing down an elevator pitch: it couldn't possibly address all the audience's concerns or desires.

The exercise of the SWOT analysis might at least help getting insight into those, and hopefully the introductory pitch points out some of the most evident/elementary strengths. Next comes the ability to ask the right questions and to overcome objections. In no way could an elevator pitch pass by the fact the salesmanship is still needed to connect with your audience. Yet it may at least help you make an appealing introduction for your first 15 seconds. Your LIFT example is a great addition to approaching the actual writing of the pitch.
Good luck everyone!