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All Aboard the Elevator

All Aboard the Elevator

When’s the last time you thought about your elevator pitch? Or even the term ‘elevator pitch’? For some (author included), it induces an internal shudder–how can you possibly sum up everything into less than 30 seconds? For others, it provides a level of comfort–simplify and conquer.

The essence of the elevator pitch is easy: Who you are, What you sell, Who you sell it to, Why it’s different. It’s the streamlining and diffusion throughout your company that makes it hard. In my experience, there are some key things every elevator pitch must have:Even if you haven’t thought about your “official” elevator pitch recently, it’s getting used daily whether you’re aware of it or not. An aunt is asking one of your employees what he does. A casual happy hour has turned into a networking opportunity. A prospect has mistakenly contacted your support desk and wants to know more. Is everyone at your company prepared to give a quick and easy overview that tells a powerful, easy-to-understand story?

  • Flexibility. Your business will change over time–so must how you describe yourself. Your elevator pitch should also have the flexibility to allow the teller (i.e., your employee) the ability to make it his own.
  • Adaptability. Depending on who’s in the elevator with you, you need to be able to change your pitch accordingly. Your aunt doesn’t care that your software is similar to SAP’s–but your prospect might. Give the right context to every listener.
  • Stickiness. Your elevator pitch has to stick on two accounts: first, with your employees and second, with your audience. If your pitch isn’t memorable and easy to understand, there’s no chance it will be re-told or consumed how you intended.
  • An end. Raise your hand if you’ve asked someone what she does and then been put to sleep by the five minute overview you got in response. I can’t see your hand raised, but I assume it is. The thing about the elevator pitch is that, oftentimes, the person asking you doesn’t really care what the answer is and isn’t devoting a lot of attention to taking it in. If it’s adapted to who he is and sticky enough to gain initial interest, follow-up questions will be asked. Keep it brief.

The most important thing you can do with your elevator pitch is empower your team. Use similar messaging on your website, in your boiler plate, and in your company meetings. A sticky, flexible elevator pitch will serve your entire business well.

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