At Startup Connection, we believe that the skill of communicating passion for your business — in the form of a refined “elevator speech” or mission statement — is a pure necessity to your success.
Mark Twain is often credited with saying, “I would have written a shorter story, but I didn’t have the time.” These days, we refer to a very short synopsis of your business as an “elevator speech,” and in this article, we’ll call it “the sales pitch.” A sales pitch is a concise, carefully planned, and well-practiced description of your company that anyone should be able to understand in 60 seconds or less. Learning how to give a great sales pitch is a valuable way to share your message. It is also a great way to truly refine the essence of your company’s vision and plan. On one hand, starting the sales pitch is not easy, and it requires some effort and practice. On the other hand, the process should be made as simple as possible.
One of the best strategies we suggest is to start with taking less than one hour to write a first version. Focus on your idea, passion and emotion in this draft. Don’t worry about content, format, or style… we can help you fix all that later.
The sales pitch is as essential as your business card, and you have about one paragraph to get the attention of your audience. You need to clearly and rapidly be able to communicate who you are, what you do, and how you can help your listeners.
Before you can convince anyone of your business proposition, YOU need to know exactly what that business proposition is! You need to define precisely what you are offering, what problems you can solve, and what benefits you bring to prospective customers or clients.
Specifically, the sales pitch answers some of the following questions:
- Who are you and who is your company? For example, “My name is Jim Cando and my company are Cando Widgets.”
- What are your key products or services, and what are their strengths? “We make awesome widgets that are guaranteed to make you healthier, richer, and happier. Our widgets are made with 100% healthy ingredients, cost less, and are easy to use.”
- What adjectives come to mind to describe your company? Avoid common words like better, bigger, and well made. Instead, think of emotional terms like indestructible, exciting, or scrumptious.
- Who is your target market? Be specific in terms of age, lifestyle, location, and income. “We target millennial men who work out and are looking for a shirt that fits”.
- What problem do you help customers solve? Talk about benefits instead of just descriptions. Examples of benefit statements include: “We help you save time and money,” “We make what is usually a horrible experience into something satisfying and exciting,” or “We understand our customers, and ensure that they have the best product selection.”
- What is your business model and strategy? For example, “We are a home service company. Our goal is to develop a base business of 500 customers and $1 million in revenues, and then to grow 10 to 20% per year. We plan to spend 15 to 20% of our sales on internet marketing, materials demonstrations, and exceptional customer service. Our profitability is derived from our low overhead, competitive margins, and growing brand.”
- Who is your competition and how are you better? For example, “Our competition is anyone who sells widgets. We offer the right product at the right price, with great customer service and product selection. We save customers money by helping them purchase the most effective product (rather than the cheapest or one with the most bells and whistles) based on what they need.”
Your challenge is to deliver a great pitch that will make someone want to know a whole lot more about your business.
Basic Elements of a Good Elevator Speech
Once you have developed a good sales pitch, you will be amazed at how handy it is, and how often you use it in a variety of settings. To be sure your pitch is top-notch, here is a checklist of important elements to consider:
- A “Hook”: Start with a hook, a statement or question that piques interest and makes the listener want to hear more. A hook can be a surprising or amazing fact. For example, if you were marketing a product geared towards entrepreneurs, you might start with “More than one out of every two Americans works for or owns a small business.”
- Length: Your pitch should be less than 60 seconds. If your sales pitch runs on for too long, you risk losing the interest of your listener. Get to the point you are trying to make, and explain why it will benefit your target audience.
- Passion: Listeners will expect energy and dedication in your speech. If you aren’t excited about your idea, why should the listener be? Why is this idea exciting, and how will it benefit your target audience? This must be conveyed in your sales pitch.
- A Request: At the end of your pitch, you must ask for something. Are you looking for capital? Strategic partners? New markets? Use the fact that you are with the customer to your advantage – ask them to take advantage of this opportunity and close the deal on the spot. Always establish a follow up question, in case your target is unable to commit outright.
- Practice: Be sure to spend time developing, practicing and testing your pitch. Create short videos of your pitch and critically review your presentation. It is imperative that you convey confidence in your product, and how it will benefit the customer.
Think about your ideas and call me for some free mentoring. I know it is not easy, but the more you work on defining your business, the more comfortable you will become. Call today at: (914) 632-6977.
Dr. Bert Shlensky, president of Startup Connection ( www.startupconection.net ) has an MBA and PhD from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. He served as the president of West Point Pepperell’s apparel fabrics business & President and CEO of Sure Fit Products. Having provided counseling to over 2,000 clients, he focuses on working with select start-up companies and small businesses. Call today for a free consultation, so we can use our business plan templates to take your business to the next level.