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How to Write the Perfect Elevator Pitch - Tips, Examples, & Templates [2021 Guide]

What is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch (also known as elevator speech, elevator statement, or sales pitch) is a short & punchy statement about who you are, what you do, your value proposition, & your goal. It is a persuasive speech used to spark interest in your company, business idea, or job candidacy that moves you closer to achieving a desired goal.

Introduction to the Elevator Pitch


If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank on ABC, you’ve seen contestants pitch their business or product to investors in less than 30 seconds. These “elevator pitches” can make or break their chance of securing the money they need to ramp up their business. Robert Herjavec, one of the show’s investors and serial entrepreneur, recommends honing your elevator pitch because, “You have 90 seconds, if you’re lucky… facts and figures are important, but it’s not the only criteria, you must present in a manner that generates expertise and confidence.” In essence, having a good elevator pitch ready to go is an important part of getting your small business off the ground.

While creating your ideal sales pitch can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Since you’re the expert in your business, you already have the information you need. You just need to organize your thoughts on paper to communicate the value you provide in a concise way with maximum impact.

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The concept of an elevator pitch originated with the idea that you may find yourself in a lucky position of sharing an elevator ride with a senior executive at your company. This is your big chance to sell your great idea and get buy-in from someone who has the funds and resources to back you.

Instead of an elevator, you may meet your ideal audience at a networking event, a company retreat, or while applying for a new job. Wherever the opportunities arise, this guide will explain what an elevator pitch is, why it’s important, and provide tips, templates and examples to get you on your way.

What is an Elevator Pitch?


An elevator pitch (also known as elevator speech, elevator statement, or sales pitch) is a short & punchy statement about who you are, what you do, your value proposition, & your goal. It is a persuasive speech used to spark interest in your company, business idea, or job candidacy that moves you closer to achieving a desired goal.

Keep your speech to 30 seconds or less. In some situations you may have 2 minutes to pitch your idea or business but in general, the more succinct, the better the outcome. Ideally, you’d want to have both short and long versions ready to go, depending on the situation.

The trick, though, is that even though this speech is about you and what you want, it must always tie back to your listener’s needs and solve a problem they may have. The true value of an elevator pitch is to secure your audience’s attention and to land a second conversation. You aren’t going to land a job or make a sale because of your elevator pitch alone. It is simply an opportunity creator, giving you the chance to talk to your ideal audience about the value of what you have to offer.

One thing to note, an elevator pitch is different from a value proposition which we discussed in another article. While an elevator pitch is geared towards business partners and investors, the value proposition is a short statement intended to speak directly to your customers and target audiences.

The Parts of an Elevator Pitch


An elevator pitch can be broken up in to 4 basic components. Of course, you should modify this based on your unique situation.

  1. Who: Introduce yourself, who you are, what you do
  2. What: Briefly describe your product or service
  3. Why: Explain how you can add value for the listener
  4. When/Where/How: Ask them to engage in further conversations

Why is Having an Elevator Pitch Important?


Think of it as a framework that helps you respond to questions like “so tell me about yourself.” Your pitch is an effective tool that shows your listener that you are an expert in what you do. It can also be used in other parts of your life like building your professional network, landing the job you really want, or even kicking off conversations with new colleagues.

Your speech demonstrates your professional expertise and encourages your listeners to pay attention to what you have to say. You are taking the lead and reducing the burden of conversation on the other party. It also means that you are in charge of guiding the topic of conversation and can be assertive in what it is that you need.

Who Needs an Elevator Pitch?


All small business owners, entrepreneurs, and sales people can benefit from preparing an elevator speech. It’s also an important skill for students who attend career fairs looking for their first job. Whether you are new to your industry or a seasoned professional, your pitch allows you to summarize what you know and what value you can provide to your listener.

Who is the Audience for an Elevator Pitch?


The ideal audience is someone who could receive value from whatever it is you have to offer. This may be the person running a company booth at a career fair, a hiring manager or an investor who can fund your business’ development.

Importantly, your audience is someone that you want to start a professional relationship with. A pitch is most effective when your focus is on the listener, not on you. This is one of the reasons that an elevator statement may fail. A transactional conversation makes it appear that you are only looking for something from them, instead of kicking off a productive relationship. Triggering a new idea that your audience may not have considered before lends you credibility and creates trust.

Use your elevator pitch whenever someone asks you to “tell me about yourself.”

    • Career Fairs
    • Professional networking events
    • Clubs and membership events
    • Company events for their employees
    • Online and social media profiles
    • Interviews

How to Deliver an Effective Elevator Pitch


Use the guidance below to deliver an impactful elevator pitch so that you can achieve your intended goal.

Elevator Pitch Component - Share Your Passion

Share Your Passion

Share who you are and what skills and qualifications you have. For example, if you are an interior designer tell them how you help your clients create a welcoming home by understanding your client’s personal style and translating that into the furniture, flooring and artwork of their dreams.

Elevator Pitch Component - Keep It Positive Optimistic

Keep it Positive

Keep the conversation positive. Don’t tell the recruiter that you hate your job or find it boring. Tell them how you’ve learned a lot but are ready for a more challenging career. Positive energy is contagious!

Elevator Pitch Component - The Hook

Find Your Hook

Include an attention grabbing hook like a customer story where you solved a specific problem, or use unexpected facts about your product or company. It could be something as simple as, “We reduced our client’s marketing costs by 50% with superior sales results!”

Elevator Pitch Effectiveness - Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect

You want the elevator speech to sound natural and not memorized. The more you practiced speaking with your target audience, the more variety of responses you will get. Soon you will have a few versions of your pitch that you can adapt for each situation.

What NOT To Do in an Elevator Pitch


Practice can help weed out any errors or flubs in your delivery. Here are a few things to avoid doing when giving your elevator speech.

Elevator Pitch - What Not To Do - Don't Speak Too Fast

Don't Speak Too Fast

Yes, you only have 30 seconds, but that doesn’t mean you should cram in as much information as possible. Speak clearly and at a natural pace, otherwise your message will be lost. Remember, your goal is to inch towards a mutually beneficial goal, not to immediately close a sale.

Elevator Pitch - What Not To Do - Don't Ramble

Don't Ramble

Be concise and clear. Ensure that your grandmother would understand your elevator pitch. Rambling and veering off into tangents will muddle your pitch and confuse your listener.

Elevator Pitch - What Not To Do - Inflections in Speech and Tone

Avoid Awkward Inflections and Tones

Record yourself and study your tone and pitch. Practice using your normal inflections in your speech. Use your facial expressions so your passion for your work comes across in your conversation. Show that you are excited by your work or that you are helpful and an active listener.

Elevator Pitch Component - Options and Versions

Avoid Relying on One Script

Have options ready for any curve balls or new audiences that come your way. Don’t worry about finding the holy grail of elevator pitches. Each interaction may warrant a different version so be prepared to change tracks to keep your audience’s attention.

30-Second Elevator Pitch Templates & Examples


Before you start writing out your pitch, make sure you do your research. You need to fully understand what it is you are selling. So become an expert on your business’s products and industry, or study job postings to pick out keywords like, “must understand accounting software,” or, “willing to collaborate with other teams.”

There are lots of variations of an elevator speech but we recommend using the following ones because they can be applied in the most situations:

Elevator Pitch Example: Customer Story / Credibility Proof

Highlight the real results your customers see after purchasing your product. Talk about how much time or money they saved, or how you helped them increase sales.

Template

  1. Explain who you are and what you do
  2. Present a problem that you solved for customers
  3. Explain what value you delivered
  4. Ask for what you want from your audience

Example

My name is James and I’m a sales rep at LinkedPhone. The biggest complaint I hear everyday from dozens of businesses is how expensive it is to maintain a business phone system. I have personally helped thousands of entrepreneurs and small businesses reduce their phone bill by over 50% while not compromising the professionalism of their brand. If you’re interested, how about we set up a quick call next week?

Elevator Pitch Example: Trusted Advisor

People want to buy from someone they trust. Tell them about your industry experience, why you created your company, and what you do differently from your competitors.

Template

  1. Explain who you are and what you do
  2. Use a common problem that is relatable
  3. Demonstrate your experience and authority
  4. Ask for what you want from the audience

Example

I’m the founder of a new consulting firm called The Problem Solvers that I created after years of working at large firms and watching how they overcharge their clients. I offer the same expertise and consulting that the big firms provide, but with a more personal touch and a lower price tag. I know your industry well and would love to chat about what I can do for you. Can we set up some time?

Elevator Pitch Example: Mutual Connection

Referencing a mutual connection is a type of social proof and shows that you are confident in your product or service. Your prospect can easily reach out to the connection to verify what you’ve told them

Template

  1. Explain who you are and what you do
  2. Mention your mutual connection
  3. Demonstrate how your connection trusts your services
  4. Ask for what you want from your audience

Example

I saw on LinkedIn that we have both worked with Pradeep Singh at past companies. He is actually now a current customer of mine. I helped his business reduce their development time to market by months. Since you are in the same field as Pradeep, I believe you can expect similar results. Are you free to grab a coffee and discuss?

Elevator Pitch Example: Pain / Solution

Show your audience that you researched their business and know how to help them. Press releases, news articles, and their websites will announce that they are evaluating new technology vendors or expanding into a new market.

Template

  1. Explain who you are and what you do
  2. Present a pain or project that your prospect may have
  3. Show how you solved that problem and gained experience
  4. Ask for what you want from your audience

Example

I’m currently a sales rep at Bigsales.com, where I’ve helped build up our company base for 5 years. I read on your website that your company is undergoing some big technology changes. I actually helped Bigsales.com evaluate dozens of technology vendors and helped test their efficacy for the sales team. We saved a lot of money through that process. I’d love to see if I can work with you to achieve similar results.

How to Practice Giving an Elevator Speech


Using your elevator pitch is a numbers game. You aren’t going to succeed in every instance, or even in most instances. Even though your listener didn’t immediately take you up on your offer, you still made a positive impression. This builds your network and can develop into an opportunity down the road.

Practice is crucial to delivering a confident elevator speech. In the moment, you may be overwhelmed and have an unexpected chance to pitch your business. Practicing makes your elevator pitch sticky and your muscle memory will kick in when you need it. The more you practice, the easier it gets.

Ask a friend or industry peer if you can practice on them and receive feedback. See if your pitch made sense, if your delivery was smooth or if there is wording that can be improved. There is a reason that authors hire an editor; social testing helps hone the message.

Practice in a variety of situations:

    • On a phone call
    • Over a zoom meeting
    • At a small meeting
    • During a large networking event
    • Through email or other messaging
    • On your LinkedIn profile

Try to anticipate the questions your audience may have and practice your answers. Usually your listener will ask clarifying questions.

    • What does your company or product do?
    • Why do you do what you do?
    • Why are you better than your competitor(s)?
    • What do you want out of your career?
    • Why are you looking for a new job?

Conclusion


Distilling your experience, thoughts, and goals into a few sentences can take some time but the result will be a concise and crisp elevator pitch that will impress your audience and help you on your way to your next opportunity!

Small Business Resources by LinkedPhone

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The 30-Second Elevator Pitch
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Guide to Small Business Software
What is a Virtual Phone System?
How to Share a Team Phone Number
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Mastering the Art of the Cold Call

A special high five to Tahera Ali Khan for her outstanding research and contributions to this article. We love working with and supporting like-minded entrepreneurs. Thank you Tahera! ❤️

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