Why your elevator pitch is killing you

Every business owner or entrepreneur should be familiar with the elevator pitch – that is, what would you say if you happened to ride in an elevator with a person who has the power to make things happen for you?

Basically, you’d better have a quick and interesting way to sum up what you do so that you can get that person interested in learning more.

Sounds great in theory. However, most business owners learn by rote. We go to networking meetings and Chamber of Commerce events. We hear others’ versions of an elevator pitch and think that’s the format we need to follow. We learn to describe ourselves and what we do and why you should do business with us, all within 30 seconds.

The problem? That method is slowly killing peoples’ businesses.

I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been to – doesn’t matter whether it’s BNI or a local Meetup.com group. Almost everyone who gives their “elevator pitch” stands up and rambles about themselves for 30 seconds. That’s all well and good. Just a couple questions –

Why the F*#% do I care about you and what you do? What’s in it for me?

Seriously, I only care about products, services, and vendors that are relevant to me and what I do. And that’s how your customers think too.

You may be a great person and an even better business owner. But if I don’t know how who you are and what you do is going to help ME, I’m not going to buy despite your carefully crafted pitch.

There’s an easy solution though – easier than you might think.

It all goes back to WIIFM. What’s In It For Me?

In essence, in order to sell yourself with an elevator pitch, you’ve got to figure out what it is you do that will actually be useful to your customers and potential customers.

Random example time!

Two different mechanics competing for business in the same area approached the pitch in two different ways:

Mechanic A: I’m the owner of XXXXXXX, and we’ve  been serving XXXXXX area since 1981. We do it all – oil changes, tire rotations, battery replacement, engine and transmission work.

Mechanic B: I help people keep their cars running for less money. We only focus on necessary maintenance without all the high-pressure upsells. Every car goes through a 28 point inspection where we determine what needs to be done immediately versus what can slide another 5000 miles.

I bet you can figure out which one of these is what I hear from 90% of business owners, and which one actually catches my attention.

So my challenge to you as a business owner – get out of your own head and get into your customer’s. Figure out what motivates them to choose a particular business, and make sure you find a way to work that into the first 10 seconds of your conversation or pitch.

You’ll be amazed at how big a difference a fresh perspective and 10 seconds can make.


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2 Responses to “Why your elevator pitch is killing you”

  1. Hi Angie

    Just followed your link over here from the WF competition post and was pleasantly rewarded finding your article on the elevator pitch – spot on.

    Will :)

    • Thank you Will, I really appreciate the compliment :)

      I’ve long despised the term “elevator pitch” and my local colleagues usually hear me rant at length when they refer to it haha.

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