Peter Gould, CEO of RendezVerse gives us his top tips on how to take your elevator pitch to the next level.
Elevator pioneer, Elisha Otis allegedly delivered the first elevator pitch in 1853.
To demonstrate his new stopping mechanism in front of a crowded convention centre, Otis hoisted himself up three stories before axing his supporting rope. As the crowd feared for his life, the stopping mechanism kicked in and the value of Otis’ product became evident in less than 30 seconds. And thus, the elevator pitch was born; or so they say.
Whether you put on a death-defying demonstration or not, an elevator pitch should be a distillation of a company’s value proposition. It’s about showing what problems your business solves for a particular market and doing so in a concise, engaging way.
The art of the elevator pitch is a staple for any serious entrepreneur and it’s not uncommon for a terribly crafted elevator pitch to crash and burn, so here are a few top tips for high-flying elevator pitching.
Where to begin
There’s a great deal of conflicting and downright confusing advice out there when it comes to kicking off your elevator pitch. “Start with emotional outreach,” some say. “Hit them with a punchy stat,” others say. “Open with a question” and “Don’t waste time introducing yourself.” Wow, where to begin?
For me, providing your name and credibility is a natural, polite opener to a pitch. Anything else is too ‘salesy’ and an immediate turn-off. If the pitch were to go well, you may end up working with this person so it’s courteous to briefly explain who you are and what makes you an authority on your product, service or industry.
What’s the problem?
Establishing yourself as an expert in your field will lead nicely into demonstrating that you understand the pain points of your market and why your product or service is valuable. Here’s where stats, facts and figures can come in handy.
For example, “Hotels and event spaces wrack up around 10 million venue site visits per year which are neither profitably nor environmentally friendly, our platform RendezVerse is initiating a Metaverse-as-a-Service model for hotels and venues to showcase their spaces virtually, eliminating wasted time, cost and CO2.”
By evidencing the problem that your business aims to fix, a prospect can immediately assess whether or not your business has a place in the market, a real-world purpose and ultimately, a value.
What are you going to do about it?
So, you’ve established the problem and presented the solution, now it’s time to explain exactly how your business meets demand. For technically complex businesses keeping this explanatory element concise and understandable can be tricky.
Read the room, if you’re pitching a tech-savvy prospect give them a little of the nitty-gritty. If not, provide as much detail as is required to understand what the business actually does, steering clear of buzzwords and tired, overused sales talk. Imagine you’re describing your business to a friend, avoid jargon or acronyms that are going to cause confusion and potentially alienate your prospect.
Set yourself apart
Chances are, unless your business is particularly niche, you’ve probably got competition. Your pitch is an opportunity to highlight competitors, especially any the prospect may have heard of, and explain what differentiates you from them.
Highlight what makes your business unique and a more exciting opportunity than what’s already in the market. If you’re struggling to find anything that sets you apart, you may have a problem and may need to think about a USP. Does your business have an environmental aspect that competitors are lacking? Do you cater to a particular sector within a larger market? Identify what makes you different and celebrate it, in a measured way of course. This is an elevator pitch, after all.
In an ideal world, an elevator pitch isn’t an Elisha Otis-style one-man show and should at some point become a conversation. If it doesn’t seem like it’s going that way naturally then you need to start asking some questions and transforming your pitch into more of an interaction.
It can be helpful to encourage your prospect to try the product for themselves, offer a demonstration, a sample, or a free trial if appropriate, to really help keep your business in the prospect’s mind once you part ways.
The close of your elevator pitch should ideally be exchanging details to discuss the business further either in person or virtually and then it’s time for you to start working on your more in-depth pitch offering.
Pitch vs prospect
Even with all of the above in mind, you could craft the world’s greatest pitch but if you’re pitching to the wrong prospect, it’s unlikely to end well. Spend as much time researching your prospects as you spend creating your pitch and tailor it to them specifically. This way, you know your pitches are well-aimed and your prospect will appreciate your effort, especially if you can strategically weave some of your research around them into the pitch.
You want to show the value proposition of your business, but you also want to establish a relationship, putting in the groundwork lays the foundation for a successful business relationship in which all parties feel valued and driven to get your project off the ground, to the next level or wherever your elevator pitch aims to take you.