Can you tell someone what your B2B business does in 30 seconds or less? Can you do that in a way that’s exciting, engaging, and leaves your audience ready to hear more? Can you do it consistently, on-demand?
If you can, congratulations! But can everyone who is customer-facing in your company do it when required? Probably not…
If you answered no to any of those questions, it might be time to start thinking about having a prepared elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch is a short way of presenting your company, products, or services in about 30 seconds, or roughly the length of an elevator ride. You get in a metaphorical (or maybe even a literal) elevator with an important prospect and you’ve got the length of the trip to sell your company enough that they’ll invite you to continue the conversation when they reach their floor.
It’s a rare person who can do this through on-demand improvisation, consistently. That’s why it pays to have a prepared pitch for representatives of your company to use.
Elevator pitches can be an important way of kickstarting your relationship with prospects when it comes to B2B marketing. Despite the name, they aren’t just useful for a quick chat during an elevator ride. They’re handy for any kind of situation where you need to succinctly and effectively introduce yourself and your business, like if you’re taking part in a conference or networking event (whether physical or virtual).
In this article, we’re going to break down what a good elevator pitch needs to cover (and avoid), how you can go about writing one, and how to effectively deliver it.
What do you need to cover in an elevator pitch?
At its most basic level, your elevator pitch needs to answer the question “What do you do?” But it’s no good just to say it in blunt short-but-not-very-sweet terms. The premise of an elevator pitch is that you have a captive audience for a short time and you should make the absolute most of the opportunity.
You’ll want to squeeze as much engaging, valuable information into the pitch as possible that answers these two questions:
- What do you do?
- Why should your audience care?
One thing an elevator pitch isn’t: it’s not a sales pitch. You aren’t necessarily looking to close a deal. You’re looking to start a conversation that will eventually lead to a deal.
You’ll also want to avoid long-winded, in-depth explanations (save them for a full-blown pitch). If you pack your pitch full of complicated jargon, you’ll run into the danger of boring your audience or having to explain terms.
Writing your elevator pitch
As we said previously, the idea of an elevator pitch is to respond to the questions “What do you do?” ”Why should your audience care?”. But there’s a bit more to it than that to write and deliver a really engaging elevator pitch.
In this section, we’re going to break down what you should be drawing on to craft a great elevator pitch.
How long should it be?
When we say elevator pitch being something you can deliver in the space of a short elevator ride. We’re not talking about one that goes from the very bottom floor to the top of a skyscraper (although modern skyscrapers can have some crazy fast elevators). You should aim for it to be about 30 seconds in length, with no sections that drag too long.
Make sure you can deliver each point you need to make precisely and succinctly so that even if you get cut off before the end, you’ve at least covered some important talking points.
Who is giving the pitch?
When someone asks the question “What do you do?” they could be asking both what the company you belong to does, but also what you personally do within the company. Introducing yourself (or whoever is giving the pitch) with how you fit into your organization should be the starting point of your pitch.
However, don’t spend too much time talking about yourself. You might think you’re a big deal and super important to your company, but if they’ve never even heard of the company they won’t care at this stage, and you’ll be wasting too much precious time on yourself rather than your company.
What’s the elevator pitch about?
A short, clear description of your company should be at the core of your elevator pitch. You should try and avoid getting too bogged down into specific products and services unless they’re absolutely relevant to the purpose of the pitch and audience (e.g. you’re introducing a new product to someone who already knows about your company as a whole).
You’ll need to walk a fine line when it comes to the amount of detail: too much and you’ll get bogged down and use up your limited time, too little and the pitch could come across as indistinct and wishy-washy.
Why should your audience care?
Your pitch should give a succinct version of your value proposition: what benefits are you bringing to your customers that puts you ahead of the competition?
A good way of thinking about this is the founding principles of the company: maybe your focus is on customer service, maybe it’s operational efficiency, or it could just be the sheer quality of your products. It’s likely your capabilities and focus will evolve over time, but it’s always good to think about the origin of your company as a reference point.
You’ll probably want to tailor this towards your audience if possible. Hopefully, you won’t be breaking out the elevator pitch without some awareness of who you’re going to be speaking to. If you know what the person you’re speaking to, and the company they represent, are looking for and value in who they do business with, you can make sure you present how your values align in your pitch.
Leave them wanting more
A good elevator pitch acts as a conversation starter, so you need to close strong with something that leaves your audience wanting more. It should tie everything you’ve said together into something memorable and meaningful. A strong statistic or milestone linked to your value proposition can be effective.
For example: “Our focus on customer service is what’s made us the preferred provider for over 1000 startups in the Bay Area.”
“Our innovations are why we recently won [award name].”
It adds a bit of oomph to what you’ve laid out previously. By showing what you do and have achieved, you’re indicating the benefits you can bring to your audience. A strong enough achievement will be a great conversation starter, as it should be enough to pique your audience’s interest. They’ll want to know more about how you reached such a goal or what it was like to win said award, allowing you to keep the conversation going.
Make it sound natural
The kind of people you’ll be delivering elevator pitches to in the B2B marketing world are likely to be fairly wise to overly “salesy” or formulaic language. You don’t want your elevator pitch to sound like you’re just reciting lines or reading cue cards.
You should aim for as conversational a tone as possible, while still recognizing that this is potentially the first touchpoint in a potential business relationship. Again, it’s a fine line you need to walk. Too formal, and you run the risk of being dull and unengaging. Too familiar and you might come across as unprofessional, or even offensive, depending on the business environment.
It’s best to try and tailor your pitch to your audience where possible. While it’s good to have some key things you want to make sure you touch on, you don’t want it to feel like your company is sending out hordes of robots to corner unsuspecting B2B buyers in elevators to recite the same script until they submit (in fact that could make a good elevator pitch for a movie…).
At the end of the day, having a good elevator pitch is just having something interesting and engaging to say about your company when prompted. Once you’ve grown in confidence and found what works, it will start to come naturally and you’ll be able to develop and tailor it more successfully to achieve your B2B marketing goals.
Got some hot tips for crafting the perfect elevator pitch? Or maybe you want to give it a test run? Head to the B2B Marketing Alliance community!