Does your elevator pitch rise to the top or sink to the basement? At a recent networking event, the host asked each person to give a brief elevator pitch about their business. As I listened to each person's pitch, it reminded me of the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. I'm pretty sure that the people were taking turns, but at some point it seemed like people were just repeating what the previous person had said. Each attendee only described what they did. The best elevator pitch shouldn't explain what you do, here's why and how to fix it.
Avoid Basement Elevator Pitches
Some elevator pitches are destined for the basement. On a freight elevator. Here are examples of what I call a basement elevator pitch. One person said she was, "A partner with a full-service law firm." Another said he was "with a cutting-edge accounting firm" (Really?). The third person said, "We sell cloud services." I'm pretty sure that means that they provide cloud-based information technology services. I say that only because I'm not familiar with any "service" that clouds in the sky might require.
Explaining The Problem Changes Everything
Let's say your car makes a clicking sound when you turn the corner on the way home. When you get home and open a browser on your computing device of choice, what do you type? My guess is that you don't type "Innovative, licensed auto service center with three locations." Most of us would type "clicking noise while turning" and probably include the make and model of the car for precision.
Essentially, we type a description of the problem we are having, not the solution. So, if your elevator pitch talks about WHAT you do instead of WHY people might need what you do, then your message is likely falling on deaf ears.
Start With an Elevator Rant
A great elevator pitch starts with an Elevator Rant. To help explain the Elevator Rant, imagine this scenario. You are on an elevator to the 40th floor when the doors open on the second floor and two people from your ideal client get on. It turns out they start complaining about something you or your company are the best resource to solve their problem. What do their complaints sound like? I used to call this "The problems you solve." My good friend, Bob London of London Ink, coined a term elevator rant - which is now my favorite term.
The elevator rant for a client of an IT Cloud Services Firm might sound like "We are sick of not being able to access our systems reliably from outside the office, and we spend a fortune maintaining systems that were supposed to save us money." The first part on an elevator pitch based on this concept would be "Our clients come to us when..." and then insert the rant.
This is the first part of a two-part article on the elevator pitch. Take the first step and identify the elevator rant that your clients might come to you for a solution. Start with "I'm sick and tired of." Starting that way will help to define areas where they are likely to spend money on a solution. The goal is to describe a problem you solve that the ideal client would feel resonates with their rant.
I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Tom Cooper of Brighthill Group recently to discuss challenges for professional services firms when it comes to sales and business development. You can listen to the podcast here: "Dump your elevator pitch. What you need is a great "Elevator Rant!". Tom did a great job of drawing out some concepts that we cover in detail in my next book, Same Side Selling, launching launch in early 2013.
It's Your Turn
Share your rant-based elevator pitch in the comments. I'll give feedback on each one submitted, and others will get a sense of where you add value.