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There’s a skeleton in the elevator 1 September, 2009

Posted by varoom in Selling.
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Elevator pitches are a key part of business, both for raising investment and winning customer approvals that 90 second explanation of your proposition can make a huge difference. The elevator pitch was coined, originally, in the USA to describe the opportunity arising from the chance encounter in an elevator (Lift for UK readers) with a senior member of an investor organisation. You have 60-90 seconds whilst the elevator is in transit to make your pitch. The recipient has nowhere to escape.

Most people make their minds up about you and your proposition in the first few seconds so you don’t have long to win their interest.

I coach people regularly in this skill and I begin the pitch development effort by laying out a basic skeleton to hang your pitch on. The advantage of this is that it initially focuses the development on the messages and not the structure. Of course there are an infinite number of ways to spend your 90 seconds but this way seems to work for those who’ve tried it.

Essentially it’s a form of key messaging, see my blog of 7th Oct 2007 to read more on key messaging, where you extract out of your proposition the critical Key Messages that you want to get across and have retained in the mind of the receiver after you have parted ways. With only 90 seconds in total these key messages need to be sharp and to the point.

So back to my skeleton, I break the 90 seconds into 10 second blocks. The first block is 10 seconds to introduce yourself and your company. May seem like a long time to do that but remember first impressions are made in the first few seconds so get it right.

The next 6 x 10 second blocks are for your key messages. So here you need to choose the most important, exciting, valuable key messages and hone them down to a sharp 10 second statement. This ensures you don’t over state and spend too much time on one single point resulting in some key messages losing out altogether. Remember there’ll be more time later to do each key message justice if you succeed.

A single 10 second block is allocated to summarising all the 6 key messages in a high impact set of words that makes them memorable and easy to recall.

Finally the last 10 second block is the close. Too many people do a great elevator pitch but forget to ask for something or close the deal by getting agreement to move forward in some way. So you have 10 seconds, at the end of the elevator pitch, to ask for something. Maybe you want to arrange a meeting for a full presentation, a follow up call or arrange to show a demo. Whatever you do make sure you continue the engagement.

If you have done a good job the next step will come naturally but success will only come with practice.