elevator pitch

The Elevator Pitch. It’s Not What You Think!

By Chris Lott | Business, Sales | 120 Views | Leave a Comment    

I recently graduated from a business start-up class that challenged everyone in the first class, on the spot, to come up with a powerful elevator pitch for their new business. No problem. Or so I thought.


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As I was gathering my thoughts on how to present my new company offering I actually went blank. Worst yet, when my turn came to present I started rambling on how great I am at what I do and my years of experience. Embarrassing. I needed to be better prepared. And, much to my surprise, I really didn’t have a focused grasp on my new offering. A real eye opener.

Here’s the problem.

In my defense, I have given elevator pitches for every company I have ever worked for in sales. I’ve trained new salespeople on how and what to say. But doing so for my own business turned out to be another matter.

You see, I’ve started a company based on my three loves. Web Design / Marketing; putting the sell into a business website, Sales Training Consultant; sales strategies and techniques and Cloud Communications Adviser; business phone systems. I call this company totallysales.

To get all this into a 20 to 30 second pitch became a real obstacle. More importantly, to make it clear enough for the recipient to understand what I can do for them even more so. And yet that was exactly what I needed to do and ultimately did. Here’s what I learned.


The salesman in me wanted to impress those that I got in front of. I wanted to tell them about why I am the best and most experienced in all three items I offer. And that was exactly what I did. Not good and a real turn off to the recipients unfortunately. It took me three presentations to get this right. Lesson learned was they wanted to know what I could do for them. Period.

What’s in it for them?

No one wants to be sold to. But if I could help them in some way… well… that’s different. For me to make my pitch relevant I would have to know a little about the person in front of me. What their position is and what their company does. Only then could I make my elevator pitch interesting and entice them to ask the golden question.

Note: Your elevator pitch should have only one goal in mind. Get them to ask more questions and set up a time to talk further. That’s it. Don’t try to educate them then and there. And for heaven’s sake don’t talk them to death. A good sales professional should know when it’s time to part ways through body language and/or lulls in the conversation.

One elevator pitch is not enough.

The reason I was stumbling with my pitch is that my offering is fairly robust. Also, a little disjointed looking if not presented in the right light. Then it came to me, I could not do just one pitch. Depending on who was in front of me I would have to adjust the elevator pitch accordingly.

Knowing my offering well enough to tailor fit the pitch has become a great asset whether presenting to one individual or a whole room full. For example, if I’m in front of a group of realtors then my pitch needs to explain what I could do for a realtor… and so on.

Appropriately about you.

While I believe I’ve made a compelling argument why a pitch should be about what you can do for the recipient I believe you still need to sell yourself at some point. Just not at the handshake. Wait until they get hooked and start asking questions. Then, and only then, give a very short explanation on how great you are.

To get your elevator pitch right takes a lot of practice but is imperative to sales success. Sometimes it helps to write it down, blog about it and casually present it in front of friends and family. After a short time it will become second nature. It has for me.

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