Getting Lucky With Your Elevator Pitch

Along with role-playing, competitive comparisons, and overcoming objections, every good sales training program includes a section on the elevator pitch. For those in need of a refresher course, the premise of an elevator pitch is as follows: If you found yourself in an elevator with a big prospect, what would you say during the 60-second ride to get them interested enough to talk to you about your product and services after they step out.

Some sales reps see the elevator pitch as an exercise in frustration. After all, when was the last time you pitched in an elevator? How can you say everything you need to say in such a short time? What many sales people do (incorrectly we might add) is to describe the entire product in the one minute, without so much as a breath, auctioneer style. Some get far too technical, getting in product features and details that would be best left to developers and engineers.

The whole point of the elevator pitch is to simplify your thinking. It’s an introduction to how you solve a specific issue. A good elevator pitch gets your mind in the best place for introductory conversation – out of the weeds, and on high-level overview. It’s a level where the prospect can understand what you’re saying, and ask questions. It’s the ultimate prospect pick-up line.

So, how do you go about picking up prospects? Simple. Plan what you’re going to say. Here are four key components to a great elevator pitch:

1. The offering – What you do.

Your prospect should have an idea of what you do. By what you do, we don’t mean your product, we mean your company. If you only work with restaurants, then use the word “restaurants” in your pitch, instead of “businesses”. Often what you do can be described with a verb. We provide financing, we market, we do it, so you don’t have to….you get the idea.

2. The unique benefit – Why should they care?

People are buying your products and services, but why? What is it supposed to accomplish for the customer? Attract new customers? Lower infrastructure costs? Increase mental stimulation? Prevent lawsuits? Gain credibility? Be a market leader? We call this “the hook”. Lead with the benefits that are unique to your offering. It will help to differentiate you from the competition right off the bat.

Suggestion – pick the top two-three unique benefits and develop separate elevator statements for each. It’s like dating, different people respond to different pick-up lines – having more than one increases your appeal to a larger crowd.

Also, don’t be afraid to lead with a negative benefit. Concern over loss is a strong motivator of behavior as well. You will help them avoid a loss of credibility, recognition or position; you will help stop them from going out of business, or from losing marketing share.

3. The tone – Keep it conversational.

Use the simple language. “We help businesses keep track of their customer contacts” sounds much more inviting than “we provide enterprise CRM solutions”.

Our BU offers BI that helps to grow your EMEA business. Fail. Do not use any corporate jargon or acronyms – you might as well be speaking Martian. Do not, I repeat, do not copy a sentence directly out of your marketing collateral! People don’t speak the way most marketing collateral is written. It’s too wordy, too flowery and too indirect.

It will take a bit of practice to find the wording that helps your elevator pitch roll off your tongue. Go home and practice in a mirror, with friends or with family. Your pitch should sound natural. The thesaurus is your friend. Find words with which you’re comfortable, and make it yours. Own it.

4. The delivery – it’s more than words.

You could come up with the best elevator pitch in the history of civilization, but if it’s delivered with a lackluster, monotone drone, then it will fall on deaf ears. You need to be excited about the news you’re delivering. We don’t mean jumping up and down, screaming. We mean motivating. Inspiring. Interesting. Make eye contact. Smile with your delivery. Be friendly. Think about what impresses you about what you do, and use that impression to fuel your delivery.

Remember, the point of the elevator pitch isn’t to “close the deal”. It’s an introduction that opens the door to discovery and eventually leads to a sales pitch. Pace yourself, get to know your prospect and the opportunity for the big close will come.

Authored by Yvette Montague, Marketing Director at SalesForce Training.

SalesForce Training & Consulting is a training and Salesforce Management consulting firm based in Toronto, with training centers in Boston and Chicago, helping sales teams get the most out of