8 Ways to Ensure Your Pitch Doesn’t Land on Deaf Ears

By | 2016-12-01T19:13:54+00:00 April 16th, 2015|Startup Culture|

You’ve met someone on an elevator (hence the name elevator pitch) or at an event. You want to engage him or her in conversation that will, perhaps, lead to a follow-up meeting that could, in turn, lead to a sale or funding or a partnership. You have 60 seconds to start a meaningful conversation before the door opens.

The point of an “elevator pitch” is not to reel them in; you just need to get them on the hook. Here are 8 ways to make sure your pitch gets a nibble from a big one.

1.) Be Concise. An elevator pitch is a clear, brief and well-practiced description of your company. It must be delivered quickly but not hurriedly. Make it no longer than 60 seconds. That’s about 150-225 words.

2.) Open with three “did you knows.” Recently, I interviewed Sam Horn, presentation coach, pitch consultant, intrigue expert and author of Got Your Attention? How to Create Intrigue and Connect with Anyone. She recommends opening with three “did you know questions.” She helped one of her Springboard Enterprises’ clients, Kathleen Callender of Pharma Jet, win funding and the Nokia Health Award. Businessweek also named her one of America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs in 2010. Here’s how Callender nailed it:

  • Did you know there are more than 1.8 billion vaccinations given every year?
  • Did you know up to half of those are given with re-used needles?
  • Did you know we are spreading and perpetuating the very diseases we are trying to prevent?
  • Imagine if there were a painless, one-use needle available for a fraction of the current cost.
  • You don’t have to imagine it. We’ve created it.

3.) Capture the imagination. Make an analogy between you and a well known company like Shabnam Rezaei did when she pitched her company Oznoz on Risk & Reward’s Elevator Pitch Friday on Fox Business. Oznoz is Netflix for bilingual kids.

4.) Solve a Problem. Avoid sounding like a solution in search of a problem. Explain how your unique solution fills a “must have” need. If you aren’t solving a problem or filling a need, you’re in for a tough sell.

5.) Ask Qualifier Questions. To ensure that you’re targeting the right person with the right message, ask a couple of questions.

6.) Tailor Your Pitch to Your Audience. To investors, the pitch focuses on your team and how you plan to make money. To customers, your focus should be on the problem you can solve for them. Potential partners want to know what you’re building, why it’s important, and why you’re going to be a success.

7.) Speak in Plain English. Talk in tangibles, not abstractions, throughout your pitch. Bring it down to the man on the street. Even if your product is complex, you’ll lose your audience if you use MBA-speak or technobabble.

8.) Show Your Passion. A good pitch makes your heart race. Show the fire in the belly and your passion to succeed.

9.) Conclude With a Call to Action. Always end your pitch with a call to action, but recognize that different audiences prompt different requests. You might ask friends and acquaintances if they know anyone who would be interested, anyone who’s working on something similar, or anyone who’s working in the investment world. On the other hand, ask angels and VCs if they’d consider investing. In many cases, you’ll ask if they’d be willing to set up a meeting or speak by phone. If you’re really in an elevator, offer to walk straight back to the office to talk more.

Ways to Ensure Your Pitch Doesn't Land on Deaf Ears

Geri Stengel is president of Ventureneer, a marketing research company targeting small business. Geri is a regular Forbes contributor, consultant, Kauffman facilitator and the author of Forget the Glass Ceiling: Building Your Business Without One.