How to Structure and Deliver an Elevator Pitch in 1 Minute

Respecting your prospect's time and getting as much information as possible out in 60 seconds may seem impossible, but these tips may help.
May 20, 2016

The elevator pitch is an important tool in any salesperson’s kit. An elevator pitch is the concise, 60-second presentation of what you have to offer. When you need to assess a prospect’s interest level but you need to do it quickly, the elevator pitch is essential. Whether you’re raising money or making a sale, mastering this technique may be beneficial to your business. Here’s exactly how you do it.

1. Build Rapport, Fast

Building a rapport quickly—like in the first five seconds—may be helpful when giving an elevator pitch. With the help of a handshake, an introduction and—don’t forget this one—a smile, it may actually be easier than you think to create that type of connection. Using your prospect’s name can be helpful as well. “Hey, Mary. I’m Mike. It’s nice to meet you.”

2. Make Sure the Customer Wants to Listen

It’s important that you get your prospect’s permission before you launch into your pitch. If they truly don’t have 60 seconds or if they’re completely uninterested, you may get some resistance from them. You may want to get the go-ahead before launching into your elevator pitch. “Mary, I know you’re on a tight schedule, but can you spare 60 seconds? Is now a good time for me to tell you about what we offer?”

3. Identify the Problem You’re Solving

Being absolutely clear about what the problem is and who suffers from this problem may be helpful in grabbing your audience's attention. You’re demonstrating that there’s a need for your product, and you understand who your customers are. “As many as 10 percent of home bakers are burned when they’re baking apple pies. The juices from the pies splash onto their arms, causing painful burns.”

4. Identify the Solution

By briefly outlining how you’re going to solve the problem you’ve laid out, you may be able to get the listener on board with your product. “We’ve designed a drip tray that fits over the pie dish. It stays cool to the touch even in the oven, and it captures all the dripping juices, allowing the home baker to safely remove the pie without being burned.”

It’s important that you get your prospect’s permission before you launch into your pitch. If they truly don’t have 60 seconds or if they’re completely uninterested, you may get some resistance from them.

5. Mention Alternative Solutions and How Your Solution is Different

You may want to acknowledge that there are flawed attempts to solve the problem out there, but that you’ve developed a better resolution. “There are other drip trays, but they don’t catch all of the juices from the pie. They also retain heat, often causing burns just from pulling the pie from the oven.”

6. Verify Their Understanding

Making sure you’ve been clear and that you’ve addressed any potential questions they may have may help make your elevator pitch stronger. You’re checking in before you move on, and you’re getting your prospect’s permission before you do it. “It’s a simple, ideal solution to a critical problem. Does that make sense? Is there anything I missed?”

7. Defer Questions to Respect the Time Constraint

You’ve committed to keeping your elevator pitch to 60 seconds, so consider making good on that promise. If your prospect isn’t clear, then offer to set up a follow-up meeting. “Those are great questions, but I promised I wouldn’t keep you long. Can I follow up with you on Friday? I’ll be happy to drop by your office.”

8. Explain What You Want

You may not get an immediate response from an elevator pitch. People don’t typically write checks or pull out credit cards after such a brief encounter. Explaining what you want or need, and getting a commitment to explore the topic more fully in another meeting is key. “We need to raise half a million dollars to get this revolutionary drip tray into production. I know I’m getting close to the end of my 60 seconds. Can I follow up with you on Friday? I can drop by your office if that’s convenient for you.”

9. Come Full Circle

You respect the time constraint and you finish the way you began. Shake hands, use the prospect’s name and thank them for their time. “Mary, it’s been a pleasure meeting you. I appreciate your time and attention, and I look forward to seeing you on Friday. I may even bring some apple pie.”

Nine steps may seem like a lot for such a brief pitch. But if you practice your elevator pitch, you may be able to develop an effortless flow and an ability to move your prospect through your process. You may even get the investment or make the sale!

Read more articles on marketing and sales.

Photo: iStock