New opportunities often arrive unannounced. One of the keys to unlocking these opportunities is an ‘Elevator Pitch’ that is succinct, yet compelling.
How does one craft such a pitch? How does one prepare to seize the day? These are the questions that we seek to answer in this lesson.
This lesson is in a video format
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Philip Crosby needed his CEO’s buy-in to drive a major change initiative. And thus, was born the elevator pitch.
Philip Crosby, Head of Quality at International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), knew that the change that he wished to drive within ITT needed his CEO’s buy-in. But getting an audience with the CEO, who was severely pressed for time, was proving to be a huge challenge. So, Philip crafted a speech regarding the change he wanted to drive and waited at the ITT headquarters elevator. When his CEO arrived, Crosby stepped onto an elevator with the CEO of the company to deliver his speech.
What he told the CEO was succinct – it took as much time as the elevator took to get to the designated floor – yet so compelling that once they reached the floor in which the CEO was getting off, Crosby was requested to deliver a full presentation on the topic at a meeting for all of the general managers.
It’s one of the earliest known examples of an elevator pitch, a succinct, yet compelling means of communicating a larger idea, proposal or product.
As the name success, an elevator pitch must be delivered succinctly; in the time that the metaphorical elevator ride lasts. That’s typically forty-five seconds to a minute (or a maximum of two minutes)
And, if your objective is to get someone to buy, or buy into, something or someone – and that someone could include you – then you must sound compelling. But how can you ensure buy-in in thirty to forty-five seconds?
Ah, that’s the beauty of a well-crafted elevator pitch, and is what this lesson is all about.
The best crafted elevator pitches incorporate the following five elements:
Element 1: Connect to Something Your Recipient Greatly Cares About (Framing)
Crafting an effective elevator pitch requires you to draw upon the earlier lesson on Framing.
Framing, as the name suggests, is about putting things in the context of something that the recipient is currently concerned with. This could include some pain point they are experiencing, some project or goal that is top of their mind currently, etc. Or, it could address something that could go greatly wrong in the future if they don’t take some steps now.
If your pitch does not address your recipient’s reality or frame there is little chance that your pitch will resonate with them.
Element 2: Enumerate the Impact on their Frame or Reality
Next, mention what is going wrong currently, or could potentially go wrong in their reality, or how something could be much better in their reality.
If you can quantify the impact, that is, if you can add any number to clarify how much of an impact this is having, or can have on their reality, the stronger your pitch will be. You will now have their full attention.
Element 3: Propose a Solution and a Benefit
You’ve established the consequence of ignoring what is happening or can happen to their reality. Or, you would have spoken a benefit that they can experience in their reality.
Now is when you propose your solution. Tell them briefly, what – the product/ person/ idea – you are proposing to ensure the recipient’s reality is transformed.
Element 4: Communicate ease of Implementation
Nothing kills a proposal more than perceived complexity in implementing it. You need to make implementing your proposal or product appear devoid of any complications.
Element 5: Call to Action
You want the recipient to do something concrete at the end of your proposal. Perhaps, you want them to give you time for a detailed discussion. Or maybe you want them to investigate something further. Verbalise this. Clearly.
A strong call-to-action is vital to ensure a successful elevator pitch.
Here are the five elements again:
(i) Their Reality (Framing) → (ii) Some Impact on their Frame or Reality → (iii) Your Proposal and Benefit → (iv) Ease of Implementation → (v) Call-to-action
Stringing together these five elements constitutes in a short paragraph is what makes a compelling elevator pitch.
Here is an example of a well-crafted elevator pitch.
“Mr. Jacobs, considering our current cost reduction focus, thought that I would share that our current scrap costs are at least 30% higher than they should be, and this is costing us $23 million a year. I wish to propose a simple two-step tweak in our processes to almost eliminate this cost. And the tweak will take us no more than three hours to implement.
If you would be interested, then I’d like to present a detailed proposal to your team members and you. I’ll send you an email which you can reply to if you wish to discuss this further.”
Let’s examine how the five elements of an elevator pitch have been incorporated in this proposal.
Here, once again, are the five components of a great elevator pitch:
(i) The Recipient’s Reality (Framing) → (ii) Some Impact on their Frame or Reality → (iii) Your Proposal and Benefit → (iv) Ease of Implementation → (v) Call-to-action
Master the fine art of crafting a compelling elevator pitch and you will be equipped with the skills that earned Philip Crosby his stripes.
Wish you many successes!