But what is an elevator pitch?
Let’s say you are asking people to volunteer for your organization. You bump into a friend/colleague/stranger on the street and the subject comes up. You have to make the ask, or they are certainly not going to give up THEIR Sunday afternoon to help you with YOUR cause. If the two of you wind up going to lunch together, or even coffee, then you have all the time in the world to walk through the organization you work with, the benefits of volunteering, how important their contribution will be... But 9 times out of 10 (or even 99 times out of 100), you don’t get to make your ask while waiting for a table. Most of the time, you have to make your ask while you are waiting for the light to change, or as someone is hopping into a cab, or in the time you share together in an elevator.
An elevator pitch is your opportunity to sell yourself, and your cause, to another person in the length of time that you might spend together in an elevator. A good elevator pitch is generally considered to be no more than 30 seconds.
But my ask is so much more complicated than I could possibly sum up in 30 seconds!
That might be true, but at the moment, your cause only matters to you. You don’t get 15 minutes to convert, you get 30 seconds.
Let’s imagine you are trying to explain a difficult concept to someone. You believe this concept to be EXTREMELY important. They have never heard of it and are not necessarily interested in learning about it. Are you going to hand that person a book on the subject? Or a pamphlet? The 1% of people who might be willing to read the book will surely become experts on the subject. But for everyone else, you will be lucky to get them to flip the pamphlet over before tossing it in the trash. You need to make your message simple, concise and extremely easy to digest.
Assuming that you can capture someone's attention in your allotted 30 seconds, then you might get a chance to expand on the subject. The goal of an elevator pitch is not to cram as much information in it as possible, it is to ensure that you get them wanting to learn more.
Whether it’s a client, a potential investor, a friend or even a stranger on the street, your elevator pitch should end with you offering them your business card. If they offer theirs in return, even better. Make sure and follow up!
But I don’t have a business card!
Why not?! Business cards are cheap, easy to get and extremely important. They show the receiver that you take yourself seriously.
So how do I create an elevator pitch?
First of all, elevator pitches are not going to write themselves, flawlessly and in the moment. You should practice yours. Ask a friend or colleague to listen and critique. Recite it in front of the mirror if you have to! Just get used to sharing your pitch on a moment’s notice. If it takes you 15 seconds to collect your thoughts, you just lost half your allotted time!
When crafting it, try making a list of your bullet points.
- Why is your company better than the competition?
- Why should someone volunteer with you, instead of with a different organization?
- Why is going to see your band better than catching a movie, or simply enjoying a quiet evening in?
If someone is properly engaged, you may have time to delve deeper into any one of your main points. The most important thing is that they walk away knowing that your company guarantees satisfaction. Or that you just won ethical salesman of the year. Or that your band was recently nominated for a Grammy.
Is that all?
Having a good elevator pitch does not guarantee success in your ask. But not having one all but ensures disappointment. So get to work.
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