Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Elevator Pitch Challenge. Can You Say Yours In Two Floors (10 sec)?

Ah! The infamous "elevator pitch". How many of you have this refined in such a manner that you can actually give it in an elevator or any other setting for that manner?

Why is this even important?

Well here is a case where a strong elevator pitch can be valuable. At the start of nearly every Board of Advisory event at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce the host would send a microphone around the entire room giving everyone an opportunity to stand up and state your name, your company name and "what it is you do". There are several ways the moderator would keep this from consuming the entire time allocated for the event itself. One way was to restrict the person to saying this in three breaths (three sentences). Another was to limit it to 10 seconds. In other words, an opportunity to give your elevator pitch but to an audience of 50 to 100 local business leaders. This kind of scenario is not uncommon. Are you prepared for it?

I use the following elevator scenario with my clients to hone their ability to clearly articulate what it is they do.

"You just walked into the 3rd floor elevator at a shopping mall and just before the door closes an important business acquaintance you haven't seen in a long while squeezes in the door at the last second. He/she recognizes you and says, "Mike! Good to see you again. What are you up to nowadays?" He presses the first floor button. The elevator starts to move. How will you reply?"

A typical elevator will cover two floors in 10 - 16 seconds. To allow for a response I suggest your pitch should last no more than 10 seconds.

So now that we know how long it should be, what are the ingredients to a good elevator pitch? When stating what you do it should be, (1) clear enough for your grandmother to understand, (2) be stated in a manner that clearly sets you apart from others in your sector, and (3) is intriguing enough to warrant the following sincere (versus the brush off) reply, "Wow, that's interesting. I'd like to hear more. Let's get together for coffee." Of course, if the person is not in the market for your services another good response could be, “Interesting, I might know someone who could use your services.”

The bottom line is be clear, be different, and be brief.

Here is how the elevator ride would be for me.

We see each other in the elevator and the business owner says, "Mike! Good to see you again. What are you up to nowadays?" He presses the first floor button. The elevator starts to move.

I reply, “Good to see you Tom. I’m with Allegro Consulting, a 12 year old firm working exclusively with private companies on matters related to growing a sound business like strategy and process definition."

In this 10 seconds I emphasized a key differentiator for my company, longevity, that we’ve been around longer than almost everyone of my competitors. I made it clear who I specialize in working with, “private(ly) (held) companies”. And, I gave two concrete examples of what I do for my clients. You noticed I didn’t say something vague like, “I help companies go to the next level.” even though this is the most common phrase I hear from potential new clients. The reason is this phrase can mean different things to different people. There is no doubt what strategy means and implied in that is, I help companies who are ready to grow based on a strategy.

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Want to sharpen the elevator pitch for your metro Atlanta business?   Let's talk about it over a cup of coffee.  Contact me here.

About the author. Mike Gomez is President of Allegro Consulting, a growth specialty firm helping businesses plan and execute aggressive growth strategies. He grew his very first client’s business from $8M to $35M in just two years. Mike is a growth strategy, and sales process evangelist, prolific speaker, writer, three-time marathoner, a former military officer and pilot of both aircraft and helicopters.