Here’s my guide to developing a really hot elevator pitch that you can use to introduce yourself at business networking events, and make sure that the people you meet understand what you do and remember you.
Your elevator pitch is your little introduction when someone asks you “what do you do?” at a networking event. Why bother being shy or boring, when you can have a hot elevator pitch, and people remember you for ages?
Intrigue and engage your new friend with your elevator pitch
Start your elevator pitch with your outcomes. What do people get from working with you? You might even want to ask some existing clients about this, but ask them why they came to you in the first place, rather than what they ended up getting out of working with you. Make a list of these points, and then pick the most obviously attractive ones.
Put these into a phrase that starts “I help people to…” or “I work with people to…” That helps to make for a hot elevator pitch, rather than the dull sounding “I’m a business mentor”.
Example hot elevator pitch
I looked at what people got out of working with me, and nobody mentioned things like “great business adviser”, “advanced mentoring skills” or “in-depth knowledge of business”. When people come to me for business coaching, they don’t actually want coaching itself, they want the outcome. They want to make more money, because they usually not making enough money from their business. And they want to enjoy the process of running a business a lot more, because they usually not having fun any more.
I often start my hot elevator pitch with “I help people to make more money and have more fun”
Why you need to do your hot elevator pitch backwards
Your elevator pitch needs to be back to front, with the outcomes first. This creates a little bit of intrigue, and engages the person that you’re talking to, because you’re not just handing it to them on a plate. If you think about a crime thriller, it doesn’t usually start with you seeing who the murderer is, you have to watch the whole film to find that out. And you’re intrigued, because there is a question to be answered… Who did it, why did they do it, how did they do it, and how are they going to get caught?
Pick out what is unusual or different about your business
You probably spent ages working out what your unique selling point is. But I’m always surprised by people who don’t necessarily tell me about it. If you’re not sure about your unique selling point, you should probably be booking in an advice session with me.
But in the meantime, pick something that you really like about the way you do your business. Then you can say something like, “I love making technology work seamlessly people that they don’t even notice it’s there”. Or “I love to go into a company and go over their accounts in detail to find out how I can save them 10k a year”
Talk about who you work with
An important part of the message that you want to get across in your elevator pitch is who you’re looking for. This means that the person you’re talking to can either go “oh that’s for people like me” or “that sounds just like my cousin Judy”. You can do this in a couple of ways. One is the traditional way of saying company size, sector or location, but it’s much more powerful to talk about the kind of problems that people have, and how you help to solve them.
One person I knew talked about specialising in working with unglamorous companies. I heard a marketing person talk about helping people who have very complex specialist products to explain them to a non-specialist audience.
This part of my elevator pitch
I keep this bit about who I work with simple, so I’ve got space to add more in later. I specialise in working with smaller companies who want to grow into bigger companies. Sometimes, if I’m talking to somebody I think is from a big company, I’ll specify that this means less than thirty employees. This has a nice little secondary benefit of putting people from bigger companies at ease in a networking situation, because then they know that I’m not trying to sell to them.
Describing your process in your elevator pitch
You really want two elevator pitches. One is the very quick one, where you get across what it is that you do in a very succinct way, and the second one is the extended play version. You can check if they’re still listening. Have they got their eyes open, are they still looking at you, maybe they’ve nodded, which gives you permission to talk some more. At this point you can talk a bit more about how you do your thing. This gives them a much more complete picture, and is particularly useful if they had not used somebody like you before.
My process description
If someone seems genuinely interested, I’ll go and talk about how I see people every couple of weeks, and they talk to me by email and phone in between sessions. I might also talk about how we first work on getting the strategy right, maybe repositioning somebody’s business, redoing their marketing material. And then because I’m working with them over a period of time, I can help them to implement the strategy. This is definitely the extended play version, the one I have up my sleeve if somebody seems interested.
And then what you do?
I’ve seen some advice online, where at the end of your elevator pitch, you’re encouraged to give your new friend your business card, or even ask the best way to set up a meeting. But if this is the first time you’ve met someone, and you haven’t chatted about anything else, I think asking for the meeting is really rude. Giving them your card is fine, but asking for a sales meeting straight away? Pushy.
Maybe this is just me being prissy and British. But even if it is, I don’t want to ask somebody if they want to have a meeting until I’ve got to know them a bit better. Are they the right sort of client for me? Are they at the right stage of business, where they might need a business adviser? Do I even like them, and want to do business with them? And of course the big qualifier, have they got any money?
At this stage I would move on to asking them about it what they do, and finding out lots about their business. Not only is this much more polite, it tells you if they’re the right sort of person to buy from you.
A word of warning here.
Lots of times when I’ve been networking, I’ve done my little elevator pitch, and it’s obvious that the other person isn’t interested in doing any business.
Either they don’t want to buy from me, or I’m not the right kind of customer for them. But what you don’t want to do here, is be the person who moves on, as soon as there isn’t any business to be done. Maybe we can have a nice chat about Ribena or Pilates, and then I end up making a referral for them (this happened to me a couple of weeks ago at the Brighton Chamber breakfast) or maybe I’ll make a referral because I like them, but it won’t be for another two years.
What’s the point of your hot elevator pitch then?
Remember that the elevator pitch is not just a thing you have to get through at a networking event. It’s a way of you getting your message across to people for a variety of reasons. You want people to understand what you do. Perhaps because you want them to buy from you, perhaps because you might want to buy from them, and you want them to understand what type of company you are. Or because you want them to remember you and recommend you to somebody else. If you get your elevator pitch right, helps you to give people a really good idea what it is you do for a living, who it’s for, how you do it, and how and why you’re the best.
If you’d like some help to get a hot elevator pitch
I have two different recommendations here.
If you’re pretty clear about your business strategy, and what your unique selling point is, and who you want to meet, then I would recommend booking a couple of hours with my good friend Steve Bustin.
Steve is a brilliant public speaker, and as well as helping people with doing presentations and full-scale pitches, he’s helped a few of my clients with practising their elevator pitch, and getting really confident with it. I’ve had great feedback about these sessions, and he’ll definitely help you to get a hot elevator pitch.
Here’s how to get in touch with Steve and book a session with him.
If, after reading this you’ve realised that the reason why you don’t feel confident about your elevator pitch, is that your business is a bit boring. Boring to the point that you don’t want to tell people about it because you don’t feel that it’s quite right, then you should come and see me and talk about doing some work together to reposition and revolutionise your business. Once we’ve got it really clear what your business needs to really be about, then you should go and see Steve.
Here’s how arrange to grab a coffee and cake with me to talk about getting your business on the road.