Opportunity knocks when you least expect it, and it typically doesn’t give you much time to respond. In the world of business networking, you never know when you’ll get a short window of opportunity to make a vital connection.

And that’s why you need an elevator pitch. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to craft your very own elevator pitch, even if you’ve never written one. We’ll give you the tools to write it, learn it and use it. The next time opportunity knocks, you’ll be ready.

What is an elevator pitch?

Let’s start with what it isn’t. 

It’s not a sales pitch. It’s not a presentation. It’s not a condensed walk-through of your products or services.

It’s an introduction short enough that you could deliver it during an elevator ride—one that hopefully leaves the other person wanting to know more. That’s it.

“…the purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you’re with wants to hear more even after the elevator ride is over.” – Seth Godin

You’re not going to close a sale in an elevator pitch. You’re not even going to have a full conversation. An elevator pitch is like the jumping-off point to a conversation—if you create enough curiosity. And it doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a potential buyer, potential partner, potential investor or potential employee. It’s all the same.

Your elevator pitch is what gets you to the next conversation. The one where you get to start selling.

The perfect pitch

Okay, so spoiler alert. Despite the title of this section, there’s no such thing as the perfect pitch. In fact, your elevator pitch is an evolving thing. As your company changes and grows, your elevator pitch will change.

Said another way, this is not a one-and-done situation.

You’ll need to come back to your elevator pitch from time to time to make sure it still creates the kind of curiosity you’re hoping to evoke.

It’s not really about you

How do you create genuine interest in a short amount of time? We can tell you how you don’t do it—by talking about yourself.

No offense, but if you’re just introducing your company to someone (which is what an elevator pitch does), they don’t yet care what you do, why you do it, or how much better it is than the alternatives. If you lead with all the things that make you and your company awesome, you’ll lose their interest immediately.

“Imagine your customer is a hitchhiker. You pull over to give him a ride, and the one burning question on his mind is simply ‘Where are you going?’ But as he approaches, you roll down the window and start talking about your mission statement, or how your grandfather built this car with his bare hands, or how your road-trip playlist is all 1980s alternative. This person doesn’t care.” – Donald Miller

So before you write a single word, start by realizing the focus needs to be on the listener, not on you. How will your product or service change their lives? What are the benefits for them?

Everyone wants to be the hero of their own story. Talk about your company like a trusted side-kick—someone who turns your clients and partners into superheroes.

How do you write an elevator pitch?

Whether you’re looking to write your very first elevator pitch or trying to sharpen up what you’ve been using for years, we can help. Here are the 4 ingredients for a truly engaging elevator pitch.

1. Hello, my name is ______________.

The most basic component of an elevator pitch is the introduction. Start with who you are and who you work for. This is literally a one-sentence intro.

Like this: “Hi, I’m Ash with Talus Pay.”

That’s it. Move on.

2. What does your company DO?

This should also be brief. You don’t need to delve into your company history or share a full-blown case study. You just need to give basic information. When you’re done, your listener should be able to accurately explain what your company does.

One sentence should do it.

Like this: “We help businesses grow by providing payment processing services, along with several other vital operational tools.”

3. Give ‘em a reason to care

When someone works with you, how does it make their life better?

We’re not talking about pain points. Yes, homing in on pain points is a standard sales technique, but elevator pitches aren’t about making a sale. You’ve only got a few seconds to make an impression, so don’t focus on something unpleasant.

Focus on the good stuff.

Like this: “Most of the companies we work with are small businesses going from their first to their fifth store. We know how hard that is, so we try to give them all the resources they need to pull it off…without charging an arm and a leg.”

“People won’t ever buy from you if they don’t even understand why they should pay attention to you.” – Neil Patel

4. Remember Glengarry Glen Ross

You probably know the scene. A young Alec Baldwin berates a small group of sales professionals, boiling the essence of sales down to the simplest of terms: “A, always, B, be, C, closing. Always be closing.”

No, you’re not trying to close a sale with your elevator pitch, but that doesn’t mean you’re not closing anything. The goal of the elevator pitch is to get to the next conversation. Once you’ve introduced yourself, introduced your company, and given your listener a reason to care about what you do, now it’s time to invite their curiosity.

Like this: “It’s a really exciting process, getting to watch our clients succeed. If you’re curious, I can tell you more about how we help.”

Use ‘em if you’ve got ‘em

Once you’ve written out your elevator pitch, all that’s left is to actually use it. But how?

We don’t recommend memorizing it. If you do, it’ll sound stiff and forced. Instead, just remember the key ingredients:

  • Who you are
  • What your company does
  • How you provide value
  • A brief, subtle call to action

Think of these ingredients as your key talking points when you meet someone new at a conference or professional networking event. (You can break your elevator pitch out at Starbucks, too, if you want to, but we can’t promise the barista will be into it.)

It’s easy to know if it works. Do people ever ask for more info? If so, it’s doing its job. If not, you may need to tweak it.

Either way, you’ve got everything you need to write an elevator pitch right now.

Your inbox can wait. Why not use the next 5 minutes to write your first draft? It’ll come in handy more often than you’d think.

KEEP READING: How to Create a Strategic Growth Plan in 7 Steps

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