In today’s fast paced business world, professionals don’t have much time for talking. This has given new life to the famous, ‘elevator pitch,’ an idea that sales people had to sell themselves, their product, or their service in the time of a typical elevator ride. According to the Harvard Business Review today’s average elevator ride lasts about 118 seconds, and while 118 seconds isn’t much time to present yourself and your organization, there are ways you can maximize it.
First, hook your audience. The first ten seconds are the most important. If you can grab their attention immediately with something bold and unexpected, they’ll want to hear more about you. So once you have them captivated, it’s time to talk business, literally. Tell them what your business offers and, most importantly, what sets your business apart from similar products or services, whatever it may be.
Next, expand upon your key point of difference and make it clear how your services or products will benefit them practically, solving their key business challenges. For example, perhaps your audience is looking to cut costs, if so tell them about your value proposition. Maybe, your technology will help them to grow their business. Whatever they are looking for let them know that your business can be the one that provides it.
So take some time and draft an elevator pitch of your own, then write a few more. Fine tune your pitch make sure you are maximizing your limited time. Make sure they aren’t filled with jargon or feel forced. There’s no time for fluff, avoid redundancy and think about what you want your audience will remember five minutes or five hours after you meet. When you have a good working pitch, practice it out loud with co-workers. Role play. Make sure it feels natural. Commit to the key message points, but practice adjusting your language to fit in different situations. And be flexible and open to evolving your pitch as your business does the same.
Lastly, always be prepared beyond your elevator pitch. You’re trying to sell them on something, so anticipate any questions they may have. It doesn’t matter how great your pitch is if you can’t immediately take it to the next level.
So get your stopwatches ready, you’ve got 118 seconds.
To read more about elevator pitches, check out Businessweek.