How to Update Your Elevator Pitch

BY Kathy Crosett
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If you feel like the speed of commerce has increased, you’re not wrong. That means it’s probably time to update your elevator pitch. Jeffrey Hayzlett, Chairman of the C‑Suite Network, has some tips for you. The first tip is to keep the number 118 in mind.

The Pitch

If you’re writing a book or a script for a TV series, your audience expects to hear your logline. When you’re selling a product or service, your prospects expect to hear your pitch. The phrase is often modified to ‘elevator pitch’. That’s because you should be able to state what you’re selling and what your company is all about in the time it takes to complete an elevator ride: about 118 seconds.

The Details

What should you do to update your elevator pitch? Start by remembering your goal. If you want to sell more product, you want your prospect to remember your name, your company’s name and what you can do for them. Hayzlett notes, “If you can, add a key statistic that would strengthen your point.” Avoid buzzword bingo. You’ll just confuse the prospect and waste precious time. 

Take some time to consider the kind of key statistic that will capture a prospect's attention. If you typically sell to a specific industry, learn about common pain points that operators are experiencing. An example might be, "Did you know that the average wine shop has lost 10% of its walk-​in traffic since regulators approved home delivery of adult beverage?" If the prospect you're talking with has lost walk-​in traffic because of changing market conditions, they'll start listening. Then your pitch should include a solution to this problem. Our research shows that 45% of buyers want to deal with a sales professional who provides relevant ideas to help with their business. Once you take that step, you've also established credibility with your prospect.

The Delivery

Even if your superpower is improv, you shouldn’t wing the delivery of your pitch. The pros, the rainmakers in your office, practice until their pitches are perfect. You should practice, too. Keep trying until the words flow smoothly out of your mouth. 

Once you have memorized the words, check out your posture and presentation. Are you standing up straight? Do you look happy to be selling your product or service? You should appear to be enthusiastic, but not aggressive. For that reason, keep your hands at your sides. Wild gestures might make your prospect think of late-​night TV pitchmen who are selling steak knives. 

Update Your Elevator Pitch

It’s not enough to practice when you’re driving around. Ask family members or trusted work friends for feedback on your delivery. You’ll spend much longer than 118 seconds perfecting your elevator pitch. Don’t let that bother you, because you never have a second chance to make a good first impression.