The Lost Art of the Elevator Pitch

As channel consultants, we get to work with an incredible array of different companies and technologies. And with the breakneck speed of new product releases, it’s a real challenge trying to stay on top of it all. What continues to amaze us however, is how few companies can explain what they do in a concise manner that differentiates their value proposition.

What they need is an elevator pitch.

The term “Elevator Pitch’ came from the premise that if you entered an elevator with a senior executive of a prospective client, you should be able to explain what you do in the 20-30 seconds you had with them before they got off their floor.

Elements of a Good Elevator Pitch

In order to understand what makes an effective elevator pitch, it’s important to understand its purpose, which is mainly to provide enough information that the recipient can quickly determine if they (or someone they know) might be interested in what you’re offering, and that they might do to learn more.

  • It should be brief (ideally under 30 seconds)
  • It should solve a problem
  • It should differentiate itself by explaining what it does and doesn’t do
  • It should have something that gives it credibility (eg. a respected customer using it, or it’s being endorsed by a respected personality)
  • It should be memorable (they should be able to repeat it to a colleague later)
  • It should be relevant for your audience (we’ll discuss this one in the next section)

The challenge I have is that so many salespeople are so afraid of boxing themselves into a niche, they come up with generic all-encompassing statements that tell me nothing. Like this one:

“Our technology is a completely SaaS solution that integrates seamlessly with your environment and harnesses the power and ubiquitous nature of cloud to empower you to leverage the untapped capability of data within your organisation to maximise the productivity of your employees without compromising security.”

My advice… work out your sweet spot and focus on it. So if your strongest value proposition is (say) email security for SMB customers, make sure that’s your core message. At least you have something that someone will remember. If you worry about missing out on other customers that might also be interested, you risk falling into the trap of making your statement so generic that no-one will remember it.

Tailoring it for Your Audience

This is perhaps the most challenging, but most effective, element of your elevator pitch, especially if you only have 30 seconds. Luckily, we rarely present in elevators. So before you launch into your 30 second elevator pitch, take a minute or two and ask a few questions to help shape your pitch.

  • What does their business do? (if it’s not a fit, then don’t waste their time)
  • What is their role?
  • How much do they know already about your (or similar) technology?
  • Are they technically oriented?
  • Do they have an issue in any of the use cases you solve?

Those of you who have attended any of our sales workshops would have heard me talk about the oldest radio station in the world… WII-FM (What’s In It For Me). Yes I know it’s corny, and yes I know it’s a phrase that’s been around a million years, but it’s still true. Whenever you’re talking about your products, your listeners are listening to this station. So make it relevant, or become instantly forgotten.

It’s All in the Delivery

Here’s an interesting statistic.… during our Sales Presentations workshops, I ask salespeople to describe what they believe has the most impact on getting a message across – the words they use, their tone of voice, or their body language. Interestingly, the words they use rarely scores over 50%.

And yet, when it comes to delivering a sales pitch, what do they spend their time on… content and words. And in particular, if I don’t show the expected level of enthusiasm, they have this need to talk louder and faster at me in the hope that being bombarded with information will suddenly make it clearer for me. It doesn’t.

If you want to make sure your elevator pitch hits the mark, think about your delivery

  • Don’t just talk at your customers. Pause and give them a chance to digest what you’ve said and ask questions
  • If they ask a question, try to understand what’s behind the question and address it. Don’t just use it as an opportunity to launch into another example of how good your product is.
  • Adjust your delivery to match their style. Do they respond better to short sharp non-nonsense answers, or do they like more expressive, light-hearted answers? (p.s. you can glean this by listening to how they speak)
  • Use their language. Pay attention to the words they use and wherever possible, us these in your examples.
  • Paint a picture. Memorable pitches are those that a listener can picture in their mind’s eye. Use examples and scenarios they can relate to. It always amazes me how many companies present to SMB partners/customers and use references from huge companies like American Express or Wells Fargo.


Technology is evolving at a phenomenal rate, and new products with obscure names seem to be getting released more often than ever before. At the same time, the increase of millennials and Gen-Z in decision making roles means we may be pitching to someone who has grown up absorbing information through short format messaging.

If you want to influence your customers and partners, and be remembered after your presentation, spend some time crafting a strong elevator pitch, tailoring it for your audience, and spend a similar amount of time thinking about your delivery. If you don’t think your message is as strong as it could be, ping me at,au or check out our workshops on Messaging and Presenting.