By Steve Czerniak, Subject Matter Expert
SCORE of Southeast Michigan

So, what is an elevator pitch? The idea comes from the story of getting on the elevator with someone you want to influence before the elevator ride is done. You’ve got to get their attention quickly and get them to a spot where they want to hear more.

Using the parts you put together. you should be able to quickly give someone an understanding of the subject, whether that’s your company,  your product, a program or you. An elevator pitch can be used with an investor, customer, reporter, or potential employer.

An elevator pitch is made up of three parts:

  1. HOOK:  Get their interest; What’s important to the individual?
  2. MESSAGE:  Their Problem. Your Solution. How you provide Value. Better than anybody else’s. Be quantitative.
  3. CLOSE:  Action to get to the next step. What are you asking for?

An Elevator Pitch Template:

The Hook: should be Interesting, Measurable, Memorable, Original, Persuasive, Quantitative, Relevant, Surprising, Specific, Succinct, Testable, Time-Based, and Unique.

Describe how you are better, faster, and cheaper than your competition..

The Message is made up of: Their PROBLEM, Your SOLUTION and the VALUE (you provide).

(Their) PROBLEM:  What is the Important market PROBLEM or opportunity? Be specific. If you’re talking to an investor, make sure that the market opportunity is big enough to catch their interest.

(Your) SOLUTION: What is your unique SOLUTION to addressing their problem? When dealing with an investor, your solution must be especially compelling or unique (e.g, market positioning, cost, staffing, partnering, intellectual property protection).

VALUE (you provide): What is the compelling VALUE of your solution? How does your unique solution yield unique customer value?

CUSTOMER VALUE = benefit per unit cost or incremental benefit per incremental cost.

How does The value compare with the COMPETITION and the alternatives? Be significantly better than the COMPETITION not just different.

The Close: At the end of the elevator ride, what would you say? Once you’ve got their attention, you’ve got to get them to do something with the information they’ve just gotten. Comedians always say that you want to “leave ‘em wanting more.” Here are a couple ideas:

“Can I buy you coffee so we can talk about it?” 

“Here’s a brochure and my card. Can I call you next week?”

What do we mean when we say “benefit?”

Function: The product operates well.

Extras: More than the basic function.

Quality: Performance, Features, Perceived Quality, Conformance, Reliability, Durability, Serviceability, Aesthetics

Utility: Does something useful.

Availability: Can get one quickly.

Life: It will last.

Repairable: If something goes wrong, I can get it fixed.

Look and feel: Can be fixed and put back into service.

My Elevator Pitch

I’ll use myself as an example. Here are the five components of my elevator pitch.

  1. My career was good to me so I wanted to give something back.
  2. The last fifteen years of my work allowed me to develop skills in Organization Development and Change. 
  3. Small Business, Start-ups, and Not-for-Profits need help in these areas but certainly can’t afford high-priced consultants.
  4. I’m a charitable volunteer consultant.
  5. Frankly, I get something out of it too. It gives me personal satisfaction to help others, and the organizations they operate, to develop and prosper.

However, you don’t always have control over what gets discussed in what order. Here’s an example of how a conversation might go:

Sorry, I had to take a call from a client.

(A) Client? Aren’t you retired?

I am. I do volunteer work as a consultant in Organization Development and Change Management.

My career was good to me so I wanted to give something back.

(A) That’s terrific. Who do you volunteer with?

Mainly, I work with Small Business, Start-ups, and Not-for-Profits. They desperately need help in these areas but certainly can’t afford high-priced consultants.

(A) I bet they really appreciate the help.

I hope so. I think so. Frankly, I get something out of it too. It gives me the personal satisfaction of helping others.

(A) That’s great. …

About the Author

Steve Czerniak retired after a successful 37-year career as a leader and innovator. The last fifteen years were a series of opportunities that honed his skills as an internal consultant and “change agent.”  In retirement, he is a volunteer consultant and a SCORE Subject Matter Expert for the Southeast Michigan chapter.  His personal volunteer objective is to “derive personal satisfaction from helping others, and the organizations they operate, to develop and prosper.”

Have Your Elevator Pitch Ready