Whether you are on a trade show floor,
making a sales pitch, or seeking investment, perfecting your elevator pitch can
be one of the most important things your business can do. From the moment you
start-up (when no one has ever heard of you), having a well rehearsed and
compelling elevator pitch can help buyers, clients and potential investors get
to know you quickly.
More than simply explaining your
product, industry, or “big idea” a business elevator pitch is essentially how
you speak about your business to others in a way that engages and excites.
As business expert Chris O’Leary
states, “…an effective elevator pitch is
designed to give the audience just enough information that they will have a
sense of what you are talking about and want to know more.” (www.elevatorpitchessentials.com)
Your Elevator Pitch to Suit Specific Audiences
A savvy entrepreneur should be prepared
to develop and modify their elevator pitch to meet the needs of the audience
they are engaging.
If, for example, you are pitching your
product to a passerby at a tradeshow booth, you will need to craft quite a
different pitch than the one you would deliver to a potential lending
institution or investor who will quickly weed out ill-prepared and poorly
planned business ideas or propositions based on an elevator pitch alone.
Elements of an Effective Elevator Pitch
To help prepare your elevator pitch
(whether to secure investment for your business or to communicate your sales
proposition) you need to take a three-step approach and address these key
elements of your business:
1. “What is the problem or “pain” in the marketplace that your
business addresses?” A good way to
address this element is to ask a question. For example:
Did you know that the average small business wastes
approximately $1,250 in energy costs each month simply because electronic
assets are left to operate on maximum power 24 hours a day?
2. “How does your business or its product solve this problem?” And, in this
case, the (purely hypothetical) answer might be:
With our patented energy usage monitoring system – ElecTrack
– business owners can monitor energy consumption across all their electronic
assets and remotely deactivate non-business critical equipment and appliances
when not in use.
3. If you are developing an elevator pitch to help communicate
your sales proposition, you should ask yourself: “What is the main benefit you give?” For
ElecTrack can help you save thousands of dollars a year on
your business utility bills.
Alternatively, if you are seeking investment in your
business the third element should be – “What do you need to bring your solution to reality?” For example:
We need $1.2 million in funding to get to
the point where the company is self-sustaining. This should happen during the
third quarter of our second year. For the purposes of start-up, we’re seeking
$500,000 of initial funding. I am the CEO with 12 years senior sales and
business development experience in the energy efficiency sector. Our Technology
Director has 20 years of electrical engineering and software development
experience and has led the development and patenting of ElecTrack. If we hit
our numbers, we expect to expand our market base into Europe and Asia, within three years.
For specific help on creating your
elevator pitch for investors, take a look at this You Tube video clip from business
planning expert Tim Berry. He provides tips on how to craft your pitch, what
your goals should be, and perhaps most importantly, what your investors want to
Feedback and Practice Your Pitch
Another element in the process is to
get feedback on your pitch from fellow stakeholders, employees, or someone not
as close to the business as you are. Modify your pitch based on this feedback,
and then rehearse and familiarize yourself with it. This absolutely involves
reading it out loud. As a goal, aim for delivering your pitch in 30-45 seconds,
longer than that and you’ll need to head back to the drawing board.
You could also try writing key words or
phrases from your elevator pitch on a prompt card that you can pull out before
meetings to refresh your memory.
– Links to more resources as provided by the New York State
Elevator Speeches that Leave a LastingImpression
- Business Planning Tutorials from Business.gov guest blogger and business planning expert Tim Berry
Small Business Marketing Guide from
– Tips, tools and lots of information to help you market your start-up or small
How to Write a Business Plan
– From free training and templates to business planning guidance, these
resources are specifically designed for small business owners and