In a perfect world, you’ll always have all the time you need to explain your perfect business idea to a potential partner or investor. In the real world, however, opportunities don’t always come, and if they do, they often happen quickly. To successfully connect with the power brokers in the business arena, including when networking, you need to have an elevator pitch prepared and ready to go.
What Is an Elevator Pitch? Why Do I Need One?
CEO and co-founder Tom Deierlein of Thundercat Technology describes an elevator pitch as a 30- to 60-second explanation of what your business is and how it provides value. The concept of an elevator pitch arose from an old story about a sales rep getting into an elevator, and having a CEO step in next to him. In a contained environment, with 60 seconds before the elevator hit the top floor, how would that sales rep explain his company?
Coming up with an elevator pitch can feel frustrating. After you have put weeks and months of work into your business plan, describing every detail, turning around and reducing your business to its simplest explanation can feel reductive and incomplete. Knowing that women experience a more difficult time accessing venture capital or interesting banks in traditional funding, having a polished pitch helps you get your message across succinctly and successfully.
Your elevator pitch is not the be-all and end-all of your business description or proposal. The goal of an elevator pitch is to pique the other party’s interest. You want to intrigue them so that they want to know more about your product or service. That will be your chance to lay out all the details about what makes your business enticing.
What Do I Mention in My Elevator Pitch?
Your 60-second pitch needs to involve some key details. Explain:
- What problem your business product or service solves
- What value you provide
- How you provide it
- What your experience is
- What you want from your listener
Many of these concepts will come straight out of your business plan but need to be much more condensed. Think of distilling your business down to its most basic elements, and remember that you will (hopefully!) have the chance to share more details in the next few minutes.
What Does My Elevator Pitch Need to Do?
The goal of your elevator pitch is to catch the attention of a buyer, an investor, potential partner, or professional mentor. These people are busy and often have many people trying to catch their attention, so your quick pitch is respectful of their time and commitments.
Your elevator pitch needs to sound polished without sounding rehearsed. It is a good idea not to memorise an exact speech that you will repeat every time you have the opportunity; even though everyone knows that elevator pitches are a must in business, you want the person you are speaking with to feel that you have taken the time to research and pitch to him or her in particular. One way to accomplish this is to add in a fact or figure that specifically references their company. You might say, “I know Angel Investors has looked at companies that focus on social media for women, but it doesn’t appear you’ve found the right partner yet,” for example. This tells the listener that you want to work with them in particular.
Embrace the Power of the Elevator Pitch
When you have a well-crafted elevator pitch, which you deliver smoothly and with confidence, you are not just sharing information about your business. You are saying that you have done your research, that you are ready for the next level in the business world, and that you want to see your business evolve. You set yourself up as an equal partner in the conversation, which makes your listener take you more seriously.
Practice your elevator pitch with those who know your industry, and those who do not. See if you can interest people who are not experts. Consider contacting a professional mentoring organisation such as Behind Closed Doors to get some help from business women who understand the nuances of how to sell yourself and your ideas within the business world. And, then try out your elevator pitch on the power players in your world and see what great things come next.
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