How to create a winning 'elevator pitch' - the do's and don'ts

Back to blog 6 November 2017

Cassette tapes, shoulder pads and extravagant perms. Although some things (thankfully) were left in the 1980s, there is one thing that still remains as fashionable and important as ever: the elevator pitch.

Re-named and re-branded as the value statement to modern salespeople, the elevator pitch has never gone away. In fact, some may argue that in this modern era of decreasing attention spans and increasing cynicism towards salespeople, having a tool that cuts through the noise is more and more crucial.

In sales, we will always be asked to clearly and quickly explain what we do. Whether prospecting on the phone, at an event, or just when asked, “so, what do you do?”, having a great elevator pitch (or two) up our sleeve is essential to find new opportunities and spark interest in our offer.

In this blog, we share how to create a winning elevator pitch: the do’s and don’ts.

1.    Think like your customer

Before you start your pitch, put yourself in the shoes of the customer. What is their main buying driver for your product? What do they value most? What language do they use? Work this out and then adapt your pitch to talk directly to them and their needs.

Take the example of a salesperson selling packaging solutions. A prospect who needs to keep their products frozen in transit will be interested in the quality and reliability of specialist packaging. A prospect who packs mass quantities of books will be interested in reducing the costs of simple packaging.

DON’T:

  • Create one elevator pitch and use it for every customer.
  • Use business language and jargon.

DO:

  • Think about the buying drivers for the decision makers in your target markets.
  • Tailor your pitch to each individual.
  • Talk to them as if they are human (they are).

 

2.    Open with a Quantified benefit

The number one rule of elevator pitching is this: don’t talk about the features of the product; talk about the specific benefit to the customer. To demonstrate benefits ensure you show the prospect how their situation will improve as a result of your product/service. How do you help people like them to solve, increase, save or improve something important?

Once you have your benefit, the next step is to make it world-class. Use statistics, numbers and proof sources to quantify how you help.

DON’T SAY:

  • “We sell packaging for dangerous goods” (feature).
  • “We sell packaging that saves customers money” (vague benefit).

 

DO SAY:

  • “Pharmaceutical companies use our packaging to stop frozen shipments perishing in transit, with a 100% success rate.”
  • “We work with companies, such as Amazon, to increase their savings on packaging by 15%”

 

3.    Add a specific example

As we saw in the last point, vague claims destroy a professional and effective elevator pitch. Why? Because everyone, including your competition, is saying the same thing. You have very little time to impress, so get straight to the point.

Specific examples provide hard facts as to how you have helped others in the past, and pre-suppose that you will do the same for them. Find specific examples to add power to your elevator pitch.

DON’T SAY:

  • “We have the highest quality packaging, and are the most reliable in the market” (who says?).
  • “We will save you more money than the competition” (vague claim).

 

DO SAY:

  • “For example, Pharmos uses our packaging to send frozen samples to Africa and in 2 years has seen temperature fluctuations of less than 0.5’.”
  • “For example, co recently moved over to our flat book boxes and saw a saving of over £200,000.”

 

4.    Ask a relevant question

At this point, you may have sparked enough interest for the customer to be asking you questions about how you can help them. If so, great! Ask a few probing questions to explore their problem and then go for the close. If not, use this opportunity to find out if they have a need for your solution.

DON’T SAY:

  • “What’s your role in the company?” (changing the subject).
  • “Let me tell you more about how the company was founded…” (irrelevant).
  • “Have you heard of our company?” (irrelevant).

DO SAY:

  • “How are you finding your current packaging solution?”
  • “What challenges are you facing with your current packaging supplier?”
  • “How would you improve the way you currently package your products?”

 

5.    Close

Once you have identified a need, don’t oversell or take up too much of their time. Go in for the close; in this case, book a meeting in with them, or a longer phone call. Make sure you get the time and date booked in the diary… or it may never happen.

DON’T SAY:

  • “Great, I’ll send you over some information” (they won’t read it).
  • “I’ll give you a call next week to discuss” (you will get the gatekeeper).
  • “If you’re interested you can call me on this number” (they won’t call).

DO SAY:

  • “From what we have discussed, I can see a similar solution working for you. When would be a good time to discuss this further?”
  • “I could certainly see if a similar solution would be a good fit with your company. What’s your diary looking like for a call next week?”

Elevator pitching in this decade is still as relevant as it was in the 80’s. However, crafting a pitch that cuts through the noise, and connects with the customer becomes harder and harder every year.

Take the time to plan a number of pitches for your different prospects. Learn them so well that next time you are asked, “What do you do…”, you don’t mumble something about your company and let the conversation drift away. Instead, you clearly demonstrate the value you bring, and search for opportunities about how you can help.

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