Mastering the art of an “Elevator Pitch”

A compelling argument is an imperative for securing an investment or winning a deal. Most of the start-ups are often asked: What does your Startup do? Most of the companies are often asked: What does your product do? The answer must be convincing.

Capturing someone’s attention in a short span of time is a big challenge. If prospects do not understand the secret sauce or the underlying magic quickly, they are going to give it a pass in all certainty. That’s why, a solid elevator pitch is important. A powerful elevator pitch is an essential tool to convince your target audience within 30 to 60 seconds.

Please do not confuse yourself between an elevator pitch and a pitch deck. A pitch deck is a 12-15 slide presentation that details out your business plan. An elevator pitch is a razor-sharp positioning statement to convince someone that yours is a great business opportunity or a great product.

The elevator pitch needs to focus on one crisp value proposition or unique differentiator. You need to identify one thing that will register in people’s minds and create a positive impact. Elevator pitch must be a powerful argument to establish your authority on the subject.

For e.g.

  • In his book “Leading”, Michael Moritz narrates the story of two Stanford graduates who got major round of funding when they described Google as “Google organizes the world’s information and makes it universally accessible.” – 10 words. That’s it.
  • While trying to convince John Sculley to leave Pepsi for Apple, Steve Jobs asked him, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”
  • In 2008, Apple wanted to remember MacBook Air as “The world’s thinnest notebook.” 
  • In many parts of the world, office spaces are expensive. WeWork Elevator Pitch is about “Space as a service”.

Please remember, the objective of the elevator pitch is not to sell, but is to get your audience interested, excited, intrigued or motivated so that you get an opportunity or invitation to meet and discuss the business plan.

To deliver an effective elevator pitch:

  • Know your audience well: The audience can be investors, customers, strategic business partners, influencers, or people who can help you with a network.
  • Know your offering well: The problem and your solution including the unique value proposition. Why are you a “Must Have”?
  • Give a sense of competition and if it is failing, then provide justification as to why you are better i.e., your sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Provide details of your target market and potential with impressive numbers.
  • Provide a reference to tangible or intangible assets including IPs, Patents, customer feedback on product/ market fitment etc.
  • End with a clear “Call to Action.” For e.g. – “I would like to do a live demo to show you the efficacy of product in the coming week, would that work for you?”
  • Avoid Jargons that necessitate prior knowledge of the subject matter. I have personally used elevator pitches in my career and the results were amazing.

By: Suren Kulkarni

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