Master Your Elevator Pitch

Just because you know plenty of people through all your networking doesn’t mean you will be able to instantaneously utilize them on a whim. If working with one of your connections will want to benefit your company or business, you are still gonna need to reel them in with an elevator pitch. Practice and master it because having a solid elevator pitch is incredibly useful and who knows who you will run into in the elevator.

For decades, salespeople have practiced something called an “elevator pitch.” The idea was that they had to sell themselves and their product or service in the time it took to ride an elevator from the ground to the top floor. Every good salesperson had an “elevator pitch” and could perform it flawlessly at a moment’s notice.

Today, elevators are much faster and attention spans are much shorter, so you’ve got to amp up your pitch. You’ve got to have a 118.

The 118 Pitch is my modern term for the old elevator pitch. It’s based on the fact that 118 seconds is the length of the average elevator ride in New York City. The first 8 seconds are “the hook”—the time you have to get the “lean in” factor, to snag your prospect, to catch their interest.

Those first 8 seconds are the key. In researching the idea I discovered that the length of time the average human can concentrate on something and not lose some focus is as little as 8 seconds. Eight! Thirty seconds, then, was way too long for getting that lean-in factor for your pitch. You know how you hear something in a conversation and you lean in because you want to hear the rest of it? That’s what you want from your prospect in those first 8 seconds of the 118.

If you accomplish that in those 8 seconds, they’ll give you the next 110 seconds to drive your message home with no bull. It’s not about name dropping. It’s about what’s in it for the recipient of your pitch.

Your 118 must:

  • • Grab the attention of your prospect
  • • Convey who you are
  • • Describe what your business offers
  • • Explain the promises you will deliver on

You need speed and immediate relevance. A compelling, attention-grabbing 118 tells who you are, the value of what you do and sells that to anyone, internally and externally. Used correctly, it helps your business grow bigger. Your 118 should also describe the thing that separates you from everyone else that sells the same thing. I don’t care what businesses you are in or what other services you offer; tell me how you are different, your story and how that story connects to your prospect.

Leaders need to get away from bland pronouncements that say, “We do this” and focus on “what we do for you.” You’re supposed to understand not just what you’re selling, but what it offers to your prospect.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of 118 Pitches:

The Good: Mentions your product or service and tells how it will help your prospect. “In less than two minutes, I will tell you how the use of me, my company, or my service will grow your development department 115%.”

The Bad: Mentions what you’re offering, but lacks any reference to what it offers your prospect. “My name is Sam Maybe-Somebody, and my company The Hopeful-Who Knows wants to work with your company using our We Think Super Service.”

The Ugly: Makes no mention of your company or service and how the prospect will benefit. “My name is Sam Nobody, and my company wants to work with your company because we think we can help you.”

Eight seconds goes by in a heartbeat and you don’t have time for anything that’s flabby or ambivalent. Cut to the chase, make them lean in, and then don’t let go.

Start your 118 with a rough draft. Then, do another draft. Then, put it down for a while and come back to it. Does it still ring true? Repeat the process. When you finally arrive at a 118 that best suits your business, you’ll know it. The vibe will be there. It’ll feel good rolling off your tongue. You’ll wake up in the morning reciting it and go to bed at night doing the same thing.

You’ll believe it.

After all, if you don’t, nobody else will.

(via HBR)