Therefore Strategic Technology Services

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Art and Science of an Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a short / precise overview of your business and its products and / or services, typically prepared as a sales tool. It’s imperative that you have a well-rehearsed elevator pitch ready for when opportunity strikes. An elevator pitch can be one of most powerful weapons in your sales arsenal and it costs you virtually nothing to prepare one.

An elevator pitch is meant to be short. As the name implies, it should be possible to deliver your elevator pitch in the time it takes to complete your average elevator ride. Let’s paint the scenario. You step into an elevator and are, serendipitously, joined by the prospect of your dreams. Your luck continues unabated, and you get chatting. Mr Ultimate Prospect asks what you do for a living and you know that you have the opportunity of a lifetime in play. There are a thousand things that you want to say … but which of them are the ones that will get you the deal? Where do you start? How do you draw “next steps” into your pitch? What are your next steps? If you don’t have a clear and concise response to an opportunity of this nature, one thing is for certain … you have a more than even chance of blowing it. I am sure that you get the picture.

The lengths of elevator pitches vary, but you typically want to be able to present it at a leisurely pace in less than two minutes, with one minute being the ideal position. Your goal length should be somewhere between 150 - 250 words, with a “straight forward” business being closer to the 150 word mark and more complex business’ pitch being at the 250 word end of the spectrum. 

Tips and tricks for drafting a great pitch

When drafting your elevator pitch, there are a few things worth keeping in mind. Give them a walk through before you start.

1. Keep it short and sweet

It's called an elevator pitch for a reason. You have a limited time frame in which to make a great first impression. The golden rule … The shorter the pitch, the better.

2. Edit ruthlessly

Draft your elevator pitch, and then set about reviewing and editing it until it’s perfect. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Draft your elevator pitch and then set time aside every morning for the next week to review and refine it. Each revision is bound to be an improvement. Quite literally, sleep on it!

Ask your colleagues, friends and family to critique your elevator pitch and accommodate their feedback as far as possible.

3. Evolve it

An elevator pitch is a living document! As you get more and more experience in delivering it, you will find there are things that are missing, things that work well and things that don’t. Make a mental note of the questions that your prospects ask when you deliver your elevator pitch. Do these questions point to refinements that need to be made to your pitch? Do your prospects understand your pitch? Is it clear? Could it be simplified? Could it be shorter? Is there any irrelevant content?

Make it a personal discipline to periodically revise your elevator pitch to take learnings into account, and to make sure that it remains “fresh” in your mind.

4. What about your team?

It’s imperative that your colleagues participate in the drafting of your elevator pitch. After all, the more input received, the better the elevator pitch is likely to be. Even more important is that your colleagues should also have an elevator pitch handy so that they too are well armed when opportunity strikes. Selling is everyone’s accountability … not just yours.

5. Sharing is caring!

Nothing puts a prospect off faster than getting inconsistent messages from a prospective supplier. For this reason, it is imperative that you and your team share the same elevator pitch. Your colleagues may want to make small changes to the pitch to make it more comfortable for them to deliver, but the basic structure and key points should be consistent.

6. Keep it straight and simple

Keep the language that you use simple, plain and jargon free.

Assume your audience has no understanding of your industry, products and / or services. You want to be able to use your elevator pitch in front of anyone and know that they will understand what you do by the time you're finished.

7. The bigger picture

Hopefully, your elevator pitch goes well and you now have the opportunity to meet with your prospect on a subsequent occasion and continue the sales process at a more leisurely pace. What now?

As previously mentioned, nothing puts a prospect off faster than the scent of inconsistency. Make sure that your full sales presentation is consistent with the contents of your elevator pitch. All that should change is the degree of detail. Logically, the same holds for your social media, the advert that you put in the local “rag mag”, your radio spot, your press releases or even that billboard that you have in mind.

8. Say it in front of a mirror

An elevator pitch on a sheet of paper is a very different animal to the one delivered live to a prospect. Read your elevator pitch in your head, read it out loud and then recite it in front of a mirror. Make sure that it flows and sounds conversational. Do dummy runs for your colleagues, friends and family.

The bottom line … when you deliver your elevator pitch, it must be delivered with enough confidence that it sounds conversational. Your prospects don’t want to hear you deliver what sounds like a scripted message.

9. Memorise and practise it

You won't have the benefit of a cheat sheet when you are delivering your elevator pitch in the real world. You will need to memorise your elevator pitch. Your challenge is to memorise your elevator pitch without losing the ability to deliver it in a conversational manner. One thing is for certain, the more you practise delivering your elevator pitch, the easier it will be to make it sound conversational and relaxed.

10. Show your passion

The best elevator pitches are those that are memorable, unique, engaging and lead to further conversation. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by showing the passion that you have for its contents.

11. Multiple flavours

If you follow the step-by-step elevator pitch formula provided by this article, it's easy to refine your pitch to fit any audience. Once you're comfortable editing, rearranging and substituting, you can create a few different versions ahead of time.

12. Tweaking on the fly

The chances are more than even that there will be some degree of “on the fly tweaking” required when you deliver your elevator pitch. The reality is that there no two prospects that are the same and the context in which you deliver your elevator pitches will always differ, hence the need for customisation.
 

It’s on the fly tweaking that will keep your pitch conversational and fresh for the recipient. Once again, “on the fly tweaking” will become easier if you are fluent with your “base elevator pitch” and have had lots of “tweaking on the fly” practice.

13. Next steps

Just as you do with all of your other marketing activities, include a call to action at the end of your elevator pitch.

Outline what you want to happen next, whether it's giving the other person a chance to ask you questions, introducing you to a colleague, or scheduling time for a more detailed conversation.

14. Taking turns

You've put a lot of time into your elevator pitch, so it will be a big relief to have successfully delivered it. However, it is imperative that you don't forget about the person who has been on the receiving end of your pitch. The best way to transition from a great elevator pitch to a successful conversation is by giving the other person a chance to wow you with his or her own elevator pitch.

15. Size doesn’t matter after all

Whether you are one man band or the CEO of a multinational corporate, you still need an elevator pitch. There is a common misconception that only “small business” needs an elevator pitch … which couldn’t be further from the truth.

16. Benefits, not features

Remember, people don't buy features ... they buy benefits. Make sure that your product and service descriptions are benefit centric ... not feature centric.


Drafting that winning elevator pitch

Here is a step-by-step process that will help you create that winning elevator pitch.

Step 1: Define who you are

Write one sentence about who you are.

Example:
We specialise in developing and implementing Business Process Management (BPM) solutions.

Step 2: Describe what you do.

Use your mission statement and product / service listing as a guide, and write a few sentences about what you do every day in your business. Remember to keep your content benefit centric.

Example:
We have developed, and continue to refine, our own BPM application which we use to assist our Clients to optimally manage tasks and queries.
We have developed a number of flavours of our product to allow us to rapidly deploy BPM solutions. For example, the Therefore Quantum™ flavour is typically used by Call Centres to manage tasks and queries. Therefore StratIQ™ has been developed to optimise the management of strategy execution. Our technology is easily configured, which allows us to create BPM solutions for virtually any process need that a Client may have.

Step 3: Identify your ideal clients/customers.

Use your target audience description as a guide, and write a few sentences about who your ideal clients are.

Example:
Our ideal Clients are medium to large enterprises; operate in a business to business environment and process large volumes of Customer initiated tasks and queries. Our typical Client often has a large Customer base with whom they do a large number of low ticket value transactions and can therefore benefit by reducing the cost of Customer ownership.

Step 4: Explain what's unique and different about you and your business.

Use your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) as a guide, and write a few sentences about what sets you apart from every other business owner who does what you do.

Example:
We are in a unique position to assist our Clients to more effectively manage Customer initiated Tasks and Queries without having to make an extensive up-front investment in technology.
We offer a full outsource solution, which allows Clients to benefit from our offering without having to set aside capacity / resource to perform hosting and administration.
We are in a position to rapidly deploy our BPM solutions.

Step 5: State what you want to happen next.

Write a few sentences that identify what you want your audience to do next.

Example:
It would be great to schedule some time to walk you and your team through our service offering and explore how we can unlock value for your business.

Step 6: Create an attention-getting hook.

Write a few sentences that pulls in your audience and gets them engaged in what you're about to say.

Example:
Does it ever feel like your ability to resolve Customer tasks and queries within a reasonable time frame is a weak point when viewed from a Customer service standpoint?
Does your Customer Care function feel like it’s out of control and not delivering the sort of value that you expect, given what you spend on it?

Step 7: Put it all together.

Combine the statements you drafted in the previous steps, putting Step 6 first.

Example:

Does it ever feel like your ability to resolve Customer tasks and queries within a reasonable time frame is a weak point when viewed from a Customer service standpoint?
Does your Customer Care function feel like it’s out of control and not delivering the sort of value that you expect, given what you spend on it? 
We specialise in developing and implementing Business Process Management (BPM) solutions. 

We have developed, and continue to refine, our own BPM application which we use to assist our Clients to optimally manage tasks and queries. 

We have developed a number of flavours of our product to allow us to rapidly deploy BPM solutions. For example, the Therefore Quantum™ flavour is typically used by Call Centres to manage tasks and queries. Therefore StratIQ™ has been developed to optimise the management of strategy execution. Our technology is easily configured, which allows us to create BPM solutions for virtually any process need that a Client may have. 

Our ideal Clients are medium to large enterprises; operate in a business to business environment and process large volumes of Customer initiated tasks and queries. Our typical Client often has a large Customer base with whom they do a large number of low ticket value transactions and can therefore benefit by reducing the cost of Customer ownership. 

We are in a unique position to assist our Clients to more effectively manage Customer initiated Tasks and Queries without having to make an extensive up-front investment in technology. 

We offer a full outsource solution, which allows Clients to benefit from our offering without having to set aside capacity / resource to perform hosting and administration. 

We are in a position to rapidly deploy our BPM solutions.

It would be great to schedule some time to walk you and your team through our service offering and explore how we can unlock value for your business.
Step 8: Transitions, edit and flow

As invariably happens, the word count of the text pulled together in “Step 7” above (312 words in the case of the example provided) exceeds the targeted word count of between 150 and 250 words, so it is going to be necessary to perform some degree of summarisation.

When editing, you need to pay attention to adding transitions, reducing the word count, removing duplications, keeping sentences short, ensuring that the text flows conversationally and ensuring that your pitch contains all the necessary key information.

Example:
For many businesses, managing Customer tasks and queries is a weak service delivery point. Customer Care Departments often exist in a continual state of chaos and are unable to break out of a “poor service” cycle, irrespective of the amount of resource committed.
Therefore specialises in developing and implementing Business Process Management solutions. We have developed our own BPM technology, which we use to assist Clients to optimally manage tasks and queries.

We have a number of product flavours which allows us to rapidly deploy solutions. Therefore Quantum™, for example, deals with tasks and queries. Therefore StratIQ™ drives strategy execution. Our technology is easily configured, which allows us to rapidly create Client centric solutions.


Our ideal Clients are medium to large B2B enterprises with high volumes of Customer initiated tasks and queries. Our Clients often have big Customer bases, are concerned about the high cost of customer ownership and want to improve service levels.


We are in a unique position to assist our Clients to more effectively manage Tasks and Queries without having to make an extensive investment in technology, given that we bill on a rental basis. Further, we can offer Clients a fully outsourced solution, allowing them to stick with what they do best. Our technology has been developed to allow for rapid deployment, which means that we add value sooner.


It would be great to schedule some time to walk you and your team through our service offering and explore how we can unlock value for your business.
If the above elevator pitch is of interest to you, give Peter Lever a call on +27 83 447 4883 or email him on peter@therefore.co.za. 

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