5 Elements of an Effective Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is one of the most basic and essential tools in any successful salesperson’s repertoire. A great pitch is short, straight to the point and can be a key factor for landing a sales opportunity.

Typically, an elevator pitch is no longer than two minutes. It concisely describes your product, its benefits, and how you’re different from the competition. Here are five elements to include:

1. Relate to their problem

When you start a pitch, the first thought in your audience’s mind is: Why should I care? To address this issue, begin by describing a problem that your prospect is facing.

If you’re selling a complex product, your product likely solves many different problems. You want to distill them down to the big, overarching problem that your product solves. At the same time, specificity is necessary. The problem can’t be so broad that you risk over-selling. Your product is not absolute magic. Don’t give them a reason to mistrust you.

Figure out a way to describe the problem in a single, succinct sentence. If you can find a way to personalize your description, that can be helpful.
Example: “When your company is adding a dozen new employees a month, it’s tough to maintain the same company culture you once enjoyed.”

2. Explain the solution

Now that you’ve masterfully identified their problem, you must explain how your product solves it. Your explanation of the solution needs to closely match your description of the problem. Don’t discuss a different problem or go off on a tangent on additional product features. Focus on the core of what your product does and how users benefit from it. You should be able to cover this part of your pitch in just a few sentences.

When describing your solution, avoid filling it up with empty adjectives like “innovative.” Instead, describe what your product does in concrete terms. Does it reduce time-consuming workflows or provide useful data? For help in coming up with this part of the pitch, consult your company’s website and marketing materials.

Example: “Our employee engagement platform helps you identify your employees’ interests and then organize social events in response. With the data we gather through the app, you can personalize the events to your employees’ preferences and then measure their effectiveness.”

3. Detail why your product is unique

If you’ve done the opening to your pitch correctly, you’ve convinced the prospect that your product can solve a problem they’re experiencing. However, that still leaves prospects with a big question: Why should I choose your product rather than other options?

That’s why you need to explain your product’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP is what makes your product stand out among the competition. If you’re in an over-saturated market it might be a little more difficult to figure out. Focus on your brand messaging to distinguish your product’s place. It can also be helpful to learn from customers who switched to your product from one of your competitors. Why did they switch? What do they like about your product that they weren’t getting from the other option?

This part of the pitch can be accomplished in a few sentences. It is usually not necessary to directly reference your competitors, although it’s okay to allude to them.

Example: “Unlike other solutions, our software features an algorithm that automatically generates social outings. It’s an all-in-one platform.”

4. Personalize the message

Once you have made clear the value of your product, you can now show that you’ve done your research. By acknowledging the prospect’s unique circumstances, you can earn major points. Do at least a half-hour of research on the prospect and their company before engaging in a pitch.
Any relevant information such as a contact or alumni in common makes for an easier intro. Information that relates to a company’s current business status or client profile will help establish your credibility towards the end of the pitch.

Example: “Oh and congratulations on the recent series A funding! Now that it’s a time for celebration I wouldn’t hesitate to consider solutions that can continue to take your business further.”

5. Craft a compelling call-to-action.

No matter how good your elevator pitch is, it’s not helpful unless it concludes with a clear and engaging call-to-action.

Setting up a meeting is the logical next step. If you sense that the prospect may not be ready for that much commitment, ask for a phone call instead.
A good call-to-action is direct. Instead of “can we set up a meeting sometime?” you need to ask, “would you like to schedule a meeting for next week?”
Ask the prospect a direct question and avoid vague phrases. “Let’s talk later” does not give the prospect a chance to truly opt-in to future contact.

Example: “Are you available to meet next week so we can discuss how our platform can help you improve your company culture?”

Delivering an effective elevator pitch is a challenge. It will probably take you several tries before landing on one that really works. Practice, ask for feedback and experiment with variations. When you do find the pitch that works for you, the results will be well worth the effort.

James Meincke

Director of Marketing @ CloserIQ. Previously Recruiter @ ManpowerGroup & Freelance Social Media Strategist. University of Wisconsin Journalism & Strategic Communication Grad.