How to write the perfect elevator pitch for your small business (and adapt it for referral sources)
Every small business owner should perfect his or her elevator pitch. You never know when you’ll meet someone who could be a perfect customer, client, or referral source for your business. When the opportunity arises to make a sale, you need to be ready to get and keep your prospect’s interest. Unfortunately, small business owners often struggle with developing an elevator pitch. Everything about your business is important to you, so it is tempting to squeeze every aspect of your business into your elevator pitch.
It’s important to remember that an elevator pitch is called an elevator pitch because it’s meant to be delivered quickly. It should be what you say in 30 seconds or less when someone asks what you do or what your business does. Your elevator pitch should be interesting and easy to understand. If writing something short, to the point, interesting, and easy to understand sounds like a tall order, never fear.
Simply follow these 4 steps and you’ll be well on your way to writing the perfect elevator pitch for your small business.
Write down what you make or sell or do. Write a big, long list. Get it all out! Now look at your list and whittle it down to the top 2 - 3 things you do really well. Be aspirational! If you want your business to be offering more of one service and less of another, put the one you want to offer in the elevator pitch. You’ll get more of the work you want if you ask for it.
Write down you you sell your products or services to. Once again, whittle down your list to the types of customers you REALLY want. If you tell everyone you meet you are an expert at working with a certain type of customer, you will get more of that type of customer and soon you will be the expert! For more information about identifying your target market see my small business marketing post. (see the small business marketing plan post)
Think about how what you make or do or sell benefits your customers. What challenges do you help them overcome? You’ll know you have this part of the pitch right when suddenly people start telling you they decided to work with you because you understand their struggles.
If you have a staff, grab a blank piece of paper for each person and sit around a conference table. At the top of each piece of paper, write [company name] is… then ask each person to finish that sentence and pass the paper to their right. The next person has to write something different under the first answer, and then passes it to their right. Pass the papers around the table until everyone has their original piece of paper back. If you have fewer than 5 people participating in this exercise, you might want to circulate the papers twice. Then share your answers. See if anything comes from the exercise that should be added to your elevator pitch.
Bonus step: If you want to adapt your elevator pitch to be suitable for when you meet a potential referral source, be sure to practice an extra line you can add to end. It should sound something like, “We’re looking for businesses that recently completed a merger, acquired a new location, is getting ready to go public, (or whatever the typical situation is that causes someone to need what you sell). When a referral source knows exactly what to listen for, it’s much easier to send a good referral.
Once you have your elevator pitch written, practice it. Pay attention to the reaction you get as you say it and tweak it as needed. you might need to make it shorter or simplify your explanation (link goes here) Once again, remember you don’t have to fit everything into your elevator pitch! You just need to explain enough to get the other person to ask another question.
If you’re really stuck, I recommend reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek. This book will get you out of your own head and help you think about what will be interesting to other people when you talk about your business.