A good elevator pitch, either on your website or in person, can help convert customers – while a bad pitch can lose them. And it isn’t easy. Just ask James Lawrence, whose company makes advance software system that ensures drone operators stay in compliance with the ever-changing rules and regulations for their airborne devices.
“The question was how to winnow that down to a big idea I could present in two minutes that would resonate with people who know nothing about my product,” he says in an interview with Inc. magazine.
Conveying your life dream to a stranger — who might have only a fleeting interest in what you’re saying – in a couple of minutes, or a few words online, can be a pressure-filled challenge. Here are five steps to creating an elevator pitch that keeps people’s attention and may win over clients and investors.
Your opening line or headline should grab the listener’s attention and leave them wanting more. Small business expert Alyssa Gregory gives this example: “Have you ever felt held back by lack of time and wished you could clone yourself so you could get everything done, when you want to get it done, the way you want it done?” If you’re reaction is, tell me more, it’s a winning pitch.
Change Your POV.
Understandably, a lot of people begin their elevator pitch with “I” but a better beginning is “You.” Explain the problem you’re addressing and the benefit you offer from the listener’s POV. As Fast Company puts it: Instead of blandly stating, “I’m an accountant,” say: “You know how everybody is interested in maximizing the amount of money that they keep when it comes time to talk to Uncle Sam in April? That’s what I help my clients do. My name’s Peter Smith, I’m an accountant.”
Create a Few Versions.
Rather than robotically saying the identical elevator pitch to everyone, have a few versions at the ready for different situations. “Keep that opening sentence the same, but use five different stories of success to illustrate five different reasons customers pay you money,” says the American Management Association.
Spell Out the Next Step.
An elevator pitch shouldn’t end between floors. Let the person you’re talking with know what you want next – be it a sale or other objective.
Even the most skilled actors rehearse and listen to their director. Practice your pitch in front of friends and ask their opinion. “What may seem clear in your mind might come across as convoluted, long-winded, or fragmented to an outside observer,” says consultant Lauren Katen. Online, try different language and measure the results.
An elevator pitch is a powerful tool – but half of small business owners don’t have one at the ready. And that can keep a business stuck on the ground floor rather than racing to the penthouse.