Tell me, does any of this sound familiar?
“I try to describe our services to potential clients, but I feel that they don’t understand what I say.”
“I struggle to quickly explain the value we provide to new people I meet.”
“I have no clue how to explain what we do properly.”
Well, the “comforting” news is, you’re not alone.
But the really good news is that overcoming those challenges is easier than you think.
How? By crafting an engaging elevator pitch – a short introduction to what your company or services are all about.
And in this post, I’ll teach you how to create an elevator pitch that will quickly explain potential clients the value you provide.
Interested? Then let’s get right to it.
So, What Exactly is an Elevator Pitch?
I’m sure you’ve heard many definitions of elevator pitch already.
Hell, you may even have heard some stories about how it was developed.
And sure, many of these are true. But there’s also a lot of fluff around the idea of an elevator pitch, and I think it’s best if we begin by defining it, particularly in the context of an IT business.
So, to begin at the beginning:
An elevator pitch is an approximately 30-second long answer to a simple (yet hugely intimidating question) – “what do you do?”
(And if you’re wondering what makes this question so intimidating, think about the last person who asked you about it. The chances are that it was a complete stranger, talking to you somewhere outside of your office, where you didn’t have your usual reference materials at hand to help. Yet, you had to somehow explain what service and value you provide… Intimidating, wasn’t it?)
In his fantastic book, Elevator Pitch Essentials – How to Create an Effective Elevator Pitch, Chris O’Leary defines elevator pitch as (note, the emphasis in bold is mine):
“[…] an overview of an idea, product, service, project, per- son, or other Solution to a problem and is designed to just get a conversation started.“
What’s important to note is that, according to his definition, the elevator pitch isn’t an actual pitch. And it’s purpose is not to initiate a sales process, or even get someone to hire you right away.
Instead, you should use it as a way to connect with someone, and later, develop this connection into a potential business opportunity.
This is a hugely important factor in the success of your elevator pitch. Because, as Anne Fischer writes over at Fortune.com (again, the emphasis in bold is mine):
“Ever been to a networking event, or a party, where someone buttonholed you and delivered a scripted presentation of his or her life and career? If so, and assuming your reaction was to look for some way to escape, you know what it’s like to be stuck in an elevator with someone who’s delivering a pitch.”
Starting with a connection, on the other hand, ensures that you can build up the newly met person to become a prospect, lead, and a client in the future.
So What Makes a Great Elevator Pitch That Helps Build Those Connections?
Now that you understand what an elevator pitch is, and the role it plays, let’s turn our focus to the process of creating it.
What are the top characteristics of a great elevator pitch?
#1. For One, It Has to Be Short
And the main reason for that is that no one’s going to listen, let alone, even remember a long explanation.
(To put this into perspective, typically only 50% of attendees can recall a 10-minute presentation delivered in a professional setting, a couple of hours after it ended. So what about a casual chat?)
Regarding the actual length, most experts believe that 100-200 words (an equivalent of about 30 seconds speech) are enough.
#2. It Has to Be Easy to Understand
When creating an elevator pitch, always assume that you talk with someone who hasn’t got the same technical know-how as you.
Sure, they might understand some basic IT-related terms but most likely will not be able to put them in a deeper context anyway.
So, explain your service in terms of a problem you help prospects to overcome. By focusing on them, you’ll ensure that prospects will find your pitch relevant.
#3. Elevator Pitch Has to Be Compelling
And it actually is the tricky bit.
For one, as you already know, if you fail to grab someone’s attention within those 30 seconds, you’ll most likely lose them forever.
And the only way to prevent that from happening is by making the elevator pitch compelling.
But how do you do that? Once again, by starting with the user’s problem, rather than your solution.
For example, take a look at these two elevator pitch opening lines:
- “We provide IT solutions to large-scale businesses…”
- “Ever been called to a meeting and had to sit and wait until someone finally got the projector to work? Well, we make sure that problems happen as rarely as possible.”
Although both of those statements openly talk about you, the latter puts your services in a relevant context for a prospect, making the pitch more engaging to people experiencing a similar problem.
In other words, a really useful and compelling elevator pitch first begins with defining a user’s problem and then proceeds to explain how you can help.
#4. You Have to Make It Memorable Too
Your prospect might hear many pitches throughout the day.
And so, to get them to even remember yours, you need to tell them something that will immediately set you apart from other MSP companies.
Luckily, it’s not that difficult to do. And here are a couple of examples how you could make your elevator pitch more memorable:
Highlight your expertise in servicing a particular target market. An expert status will make you an obvious choice for anyone in that niche looking for IT help.
Explain your different approach to servicing clients. It could be a business model you work by or anything else that you do differently from your competition.
For example, you could say something like:
“Other MSPs charge you every time you need their services, but we’re not like that. We charge a flat, monthly fee, and let you call us as many times as you require.”
Define your unfair advantage. An unfair advantage is the one thing that makes you unique from other MSP companies targeting the same market as you. It could be the combined years of experience of your staff, knowledge in a highly specific area of your service, etc.
#5. Finally, Make It Actionable
Although it’s not always required, it’s a good idea to end an elevator pitch with a call to action that’s going to invite your connection to do something.
Remember, we’ve already established that the goal of an elevator pitch isn’t to initiate a sales process. But you still need to ingrain some action in a person’s mind, if you want to continue building a connection with them.
One good example is to present your business in the context of a person’s future problems. For example:
“So, next time your network slows to a crawl, remember that it’s one of the issues we can quickly fix.”
It’s not that simple, isn’t it? To quickly explain someone the value your MSP company provides.
No matter what you say, you still feel that the person didn’t get it, right?
But explain your services to them you must. And one of the simplest ways to do that is by creating a great elevator pitch – a short introduction to what your service is all about.
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