Every entrepreneur needs a great elevator pitch to sell their business idea. What’s yours?
The term “elevator pitch” refers to a brief, intriguing explanation of your business short enough to get your concept across to a person in the time between floors in an elevator. That means you have 30 seconds two minutes at the very outside to hook a prospective investor or customer and secure a follow-up meeting.
Being able to deliver a great elevator pitch is all about being an effective and efficient communicator. The key is learning to organise information properly, so that your central business idea is immediately understood.
Tony Glenning, Investment Director at Starfish Ventures, says an elevator pitch is usually about asking for money. “If you’re looking for capital, you need to have a goal in mind,â€ he says. “There’s absolutely no chance you’re going to get money after speaking to someone for the first time. Your goal is to get another meeting.â€
Glenning says it’s important to understand this because “it flows over to some of the things you’re going to put in and some of the things you’re going to leave out of your elevator pitch. You want to be interesting enough so that the person you’re talking to will want to follow up for more information.â€
An elevator pitch can also help you when you’re seeking good staff and partners for your business or trying to engage a key customer. If your elevator pitch is geared at investors, it will still address the questions these different audiences will have about your business.
“There are two big questions that investors are interested in,â€ says Glenning. “One is the problem: what’s the need, the market size and who else is trying to solve it. And the second is the solution: what’s the product or service, the business model you’re using to sell it and the team that’s going to deliver on that.â€
Discover your hook
To create your elevator pitch, set a timer for 10 minutes, then write down everything you can about how your product or service can help your audience. Don’t stop until the time is up.
After 10 minutes, look for the most important message in your free-writing exercise and cut everything else out. To figure out what the most important message is, think like your potential customer. What would they want to know about your product or service? Does it save them money, time or both? If you’re having trouble deciding, survey some potential customers or ask your current ones what your business does for them or why they would recommend you.
Refine your basic pitch, keeping in mind the following points:
-It’s okay for it to sound like a sales pitch, as long as the central concept is clearly communicated.
-Try including a question in your elevator pitch, to make the listener curious or engage them in solving the problem.
-Check for jargon or language that might make the person you are speaking to pause.
Practice makes perfect
Need to use elevator speech with a key customer at a local networking event or a conference? Make sure you’ve had enough rehearsal time to convince yourself that you’re ready. Film yourself and watch carefully for any hesitation or confusion. Practise speaking clearly, checking that you aren’t talking too fast.
When your elevator pitch lands you a proper meeting, what next? Glenning’s parting advice is to create a narrative. “Nothing’s more boring for the listener than if you just go through a series of dot points,â€ he says. “You really want to start with a story. For that first meeting, you want to be interesting.â€