Yesterday I participated as a panel judge in reviewing the 2 minute elevator pitches / door openers of a 35 member presales team. The panel was the VP of Sales, VP and Director of Marketing, and me. The scenario was that you suddenly get two minutes alone (anywhere – cafeteria, lobby, elevator) with a relatively senior executive of a company that you have been working with. How do you make that executive curious enough about what you are doing, or what you have learnt, in just two minutes? Curious enough that they will grant you more time or another meeting?
The exercise is useful because it teaches you to condense your thoughts into less than two minutes and get a high level summary that may provoke or challenge the executive. This actual situation doesn’t happen as often as marketers or sales trainers would believe, but it certainly does happen. (I once got 60 seconds with Bill Gates in an elevator!)
What was interesting is that there were two classes of people who excelled in this situation. The first type was exactly what you expect – the seasoned SE who is used to rapidly translating technology into key business issues and then clearly communicate. The second type – was the people in the audience who knew the least about the technology! Really! The sales operations staff and two new hires gave an awesome pitch. Why? Because they didn’t commit any of these “elevator” crimes.
1. Taking one minute to get to the point. (that’s 50% of your time)
2. Using techno-speak and jargon and acronyms.
3. Failing to talk about current/future issues.
4. Neglecting some vision phrase like ‘suppose’, ‘imagine’, or “what if?’
5. Having so many points there was no focus
6. Not asking any questions
7. Failing to have a call to action at the end.
So let’s be positive instead. Next time you are asked to give an elevator pitch – give it the shaft. No executive wants to hear who you are and what you do – they want to know how you can help them and maybe learn something new. So, instead
1. Bottom Line Up Front after the basic pleasantries.
2. Speak clearly and concisely.
3. Lay out the pain statement. But don’t overdo it.
4. Help the exec imagine the future with the pain fixed.
5. Single point, single focus
6. Ask at least one question.
7. Ask for a next step.
Is that a lot for two minutes? No. When you plan ahead you may even have 30 seconds left over. Give it a try.