Starting a business is full of ups and downs. However, the rise of the elevator pitch has brought with it a welcome opportunity for both businesses and investors. This post lists 5 steps, and we've used up all our elevator references. So let's get going.
Guy Kawasaki, former Apple Chief Evangelist and top Venture Capitalist, compares pitching to online dating.
When it comes to pitches for your company, think Hot Or Not, not eHarmony.
The original idea behind the elevator pitch was to have something that you'd say to a potential customer or investor whom you happen to meet by chance. While the "elevator" scenario is a bit far-fetched, there's no question that chance conversations can result in business opportunities. Bob Carr, the CEO of Heartland Payment Systems– one of the largest credit card processors in the United States – sold the idea for his new business to an investor whom he met at a wedding.
1. Be ConciseWhen asked "So, what do you do?", we usually respond in one of two ways. Option 1 is the hyper-enthusiast, who will launch immediately into his company's life story, including every minute detail. Option 2 is the almost apologetic, generic answer "I work at an online accounting company."
While such broad descriptions may be true, they’re far too abstract. You want a carefully crafted sentence that describes who you are and what you do for your customers. Instead of dealing in vague descriptions, focus on the problems you solve.
2. Be UniqueRemember Guy Kawasaki's online dating analogy? Whether you’re dating or networking, confidence is key. When answering what you do, don’t mumble through the response. No matter how obscure your job or company, begin with the assumption that the other person will be interested. They will be if you make it sound interesting.
Good work. They're still in the lift. The person you've just met has shown some interest in your firm, based upon your confident position statement. Your job is now to show why you and your firm are unique and different from your competition. Do this by revealing one or two facts that prove your uniqueness.
3. Ask A QuestionSometimes we become so focused on how to answer basic questions that we forget to actually make conversation. The best way to be remembered is to build a connection. Assuming there are still signs of interest, ask an open-ended question to find out whether or not the person you've just met actually is a potential customer, investor or just being polite. No need to get fancy. Be sure the question is open-ended rather than something that can be answered with a simple yes-or-no answer.
4. Ask To Meet AgainRemember, an elevator pitch is usually around 30-45 seconds. If it makes sense to have the conversation continue, it's now time to ask for a meeting to discuss the matter in more detail. Now you can drop the business talk and go back to discussing - like in our Bob Carr example - how lovely the bride looked. There are two basic approaches. If the prospect seems sceptical or hesitant, say something like
5. PractiseKeep in mind that the people you meet could be hearing about your company for the first time. Caren Maio, whose company Nestio allows house hunters to collect information from multiple-listings sites in one place, says rehearsing helped her perfect her pitch. Watching videos of herself, she found that she would start rattling off key points too quickly.
Remember, your elevator pitch doesn’t need to tell your entire story; it doesn’t even need to cover all the important points. A great pitch succeeds if it draws interest from the other person and leaves them wanting more.