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Is the elevator pitch dead?

For what reason do you think Alan Sugar always takes the stairs rather than the elevator? Do you think it’s because he’s trying to clock up his recommended 10,000 steps a day or to improve his cardiovascular health? Or could he possibly have developed a severe phobia of elevators?

A phobia not only induced by the enclosed and characteristically small, dimly lit,  space of the average elevator but because once he’s in there with no chance of  escape he knows he’s probably in for a verbal battering! A one-way conversation where he’s told in no uncertain terms how amazing his elevator companion is and  why he should hire them.  Ok, so I don’t really know if Alan prefers the stairs to the elevator but I’m guessing that he has listened to many ‘so-called’ elevator pitches over the years and that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing in this blog. I’ll share some of my thoughts on the  elevator pitch plus some tips on what to avoid and how to make a great lasting first impression.

Just In Case You Don’t Know …

According to LinkedIn contributor Sarah-Joy Kallos “the term elevator pitch was coined by Seymour Frank who wrote about it in the Journal of Commerce in 1995 after he chased after an executive in an elevator in search of a job. Since then it came into popular culture fairly quickly and is still taught in career books, online advice columns, and the classroom”. It’s also known as the speech prepared for the “what do you do” question and the 20 or 30 second pitch you use to spark interest in what you’re company does. Apparently, a good elevator pitch shouldn’t take longer than a short elevator ride of 30 seconds, hence the name.

Yikes Almighty …. The Question

The question asked at all networking events with the power to bring fear and dread to those that are asked it ….. “what do you do?” Or even worse you have to give your pitch standing in a semicircle with a group of your similarly nervous peers waiting for your turn. Your heart starts to race, your mouth is dry and your palms are wet, you are a nervous freaking wreck! So you close your eyes because if you can’t see them, then they can’t see you right? You hug your arms around yourself and reel off the speech you quickly prepared while everyone else was doing theirs.


Whoop whoop you did it and it didn’t kill you. Great result? Yes and no, it’s great that you’re still alive but it’s not so great that you completely failed to impress or leave a lasting impression on your peers and also not so great that you took  absolutely zero notice or interest in their pitches. Quite frankly, you’ve wasted your  precious time because no one will remember you because you’ve failed to make a connection.Or perhaps you’re lucky enough not to suffer from nerves and are able to reel off your rehearsed pitch with ease and confidence and even make eye contact. Does this mean that you’re going to get business from everyone in the room? The answer is a clear and resounding no-way!! In fact, it is highly unlikely that you will begin doing business with anyone in the room just from your pitch, for the simple reason that I believe that people, in general, don’t buy from strangers if they don’t  absolutely have to.

Don’t Be Boring

The point of the elevator pitch is solely to introduce yourself and what you do, it’s the meet and like end of the sales funnel, the bit before people begin to know and then hopefully trust you. It’s only then that they will either buy from you or feel comfortable passing referrals to you. What you’re aiming for with your elevator pitch is getting the follow-up, the request from someone to meet you one to one to learn more about you and your business.So how do you stand out amongst thirty other pitches and make people want to know more? The simple answer is, don’t be boring. You need to speak with enthusiasm and passion about what you do.
You need to really light up when you talk because if you do, the people listening will also light up. Enthusiasm is like laughter (and yawning) it’s contagious. Think about when someone last read to you, if they were really into it then you were likely totally
engaged. It’s the same when you talk about your business – you need to be thinking engagement all the time.Try and create some intrigue around what you do and aim not to be lumped together with everyone else who offers the same or similar services to you. Be
creative in explaining how you can solve their problems rather than just stating what industry you are in. You want to give them something that piques their interest and leaves them wanting to know more.

Formula To Success

Try and keep the following in mind when you next network and I’m sure you will see an increase in your follow up requests.
1. Research the best types of networking groups for you based on what you want to achieve i.e. peer support, growing the depth or/and breadth of your network etc.
2. Make a commitment to keep turning up.
3. Be passionate about being there.
4. Give, give and give, whether this is advice, support or referrals.
5. Craft a great elevator pitch that creates intrigue and leaves people wanting to know more.
6. Deliver your pitch with passion and enthusiasm and aim to light up the room.
7. Be your authentic self, you are amazing and don’t need to pretend you’re something you’re not.

Dead or Alive

Personally, I think the elevator pitch is well and truly alive, just in a very different format to the one first introduced. We no longer use it to forcefully and quickly get across the reasons why someone should buy from us; instead we use it to create intrigue about us and what we do and to invite engagement and hopefully connection. What do you think? It would be great to hear your thoughts in the
comments section?

One Last Tip

In case you’re thinking that your goal is to get everyone to like you in order to  succeed, I want to reassure you that this is an impossible task. There is absolutely no one who is universally liked, but we all have our people, our tribe so to speak, people who believe what we believe. It’s these people who will like you and you will like them too and whom you’ll form the best business relationships and who will become your best advocates and referrers. Keep an eye on the people who always take the time to comment and like your social media posts, because the likelihood is they already like you.

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