How Much Elevator Do You Need?

Elevator ButtonsMost sales people can talk forever about their product or service or company or features or whatever. I suspect some of us think if we talk long enough the prospect will buy just to get rid of us! While Sales Concepts is a big advocate of asking more questions and talking less about one’s company, at some point; you do need to talk about what you are selling and your company.

The idea of an elevator pitch has been around for a long time. Simply put, an elevator pitch is the short version of why a prospect should do business with you and your company. The reference to elevator is based on the idea that you typically have the same time as a short elevator ride to grab a prospect’s attention.

That’s where the problem starts. Some of us need the elevator in the world’s tallest building to have enough time to make our pitch. Boiling it down is a lot harder than you think.  Brevity alone isn’t enough. Your message must be focused and unique. You must find and then state what makes your company special from your customer’s perspective. Trotting out platitudes or advertising slogans won’t cut it. Everybody has low prices, high quality, friendly personnel, wide selection, etc.

Here’s an exercise to get you started. Write a statement about what makes your company unique. Then cut that in half. Then cut it in half again. Get it down so you can say it in 20 seconds or less. Think of two floors as representing all the elevator time you have.

Here’s the second part of the exercise. Take the name of your company out of the message and substitute your leading competitor’s name. As long as you can put the competition’s name in your message, it’s not unique. Work until only you can say that. Repeat this exercise until you have the unique WHAT and HOW of your business that makes your customer’s business better.

Use the following checklist to create a truly compelling elevator pitch:

  • It must be specific and relevant.
  • It must be unique and differentiate your company, product, or solution.
  • It should cover only one thought or concept. It is a statement, not a paragraph.
  • It must be quantifiable. Statements like, “We are the leading supplier of…” do not count.
  • It must relate to a single quantifiable benefit that is derived from a unique feature of your company and the service/product it provides.
  • There must be a definable benefit to the customer. It should answer the one of the following questions for the customer: “What’s in it for me?” or “As a customer, why should I care?”

Oh, and it’s hard to do this by yourself. Find some colleagues; kick it around; stay with it a long time past when you think you’ve got it. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in the neighborhood. It takes more than one session, but it is worth it.