Most investor readiness or Bootcamp programs contain a section on the Elevator Pitch. How do you attract the attention of your ideal investor if you managed to find yourself in an elevator (or lift in England) with them? Personally this scenario has never occurred- however on separate occasions I have shared lifts with a couple of random celebrities (Jimmy Fallon and Steven King) and can honestly say that I was neither witty nor creepy enough to garner either’s attention. Thus it begs the question:
Is all the time and effort in developing a quick pitch worth it for the extremely off chance that I was to share a lift with Jeff Bezos or John Doerr?
Whilst the odds of experiencing a true elevator pitch are low, I would argue that in today's business climate more than ever you need a 1 minute tagline that defines your venture. People have less and less time and see more and more businesses; unfortunately whether it be sales or investment, few entrepreneurs can succinctly define their message and tailor it to an audience to achieve their objective.
The root to this failure frequently lies in many entrepreneur’s belief that they are doing something more clever, significant, colossal than they really are. Investors hear about the next big thing all the time and don't have the interest, patience or attention span to hear how epic your solution is. Also, most entrepreneurs want to talk about how great their product is when the reality is that most investors and customers don't care. People don’t buy or invest in products, they do so because of the value the solution can bring. Also, most entrepreneurs want to talk about how great their product is when the reality is that most people rarely buy or invest in products themselves, they are after the value it you can offer them. Based on my experience, here are some tips to create to a good opener:
- Keep it Simple, Stupid (KISS): I don’t think I need to over-explain this one…
- Get rid of the gobballygoop: Remove the buzzwords. In my experience this frequently comes from ex-consultants who just can't help themselves and revert back to ingrained practices.
- The Mother-in-Law test: similar to the KISS; practice your pitch on someone outside of your sector and knowledge space to see if they get anything about what you are talking about.
- Relate to Your Audience: Blend something into your pitch that is relevant to the perceived pain or opportunity of the audience- and when you can, assure them that they are not alone by referencing other customers who are going through this.
- Avoid Verbal Diarrhoea: turning a 3-minute pitch into a 1-minute pitch by speaking faster does not work.
- Set an Objective: It’s Sales 101, but remember that you are opening to close something whether that is a PA’s contact, another meeting, or a deal then and there, you need to define what success will look like.
- Be Realistic: You are not going to be the Facebook or Google of your sector right out of the gate, so choose your comparisons wisely.
- Be Confident- Not Overconfident: It is great to know your stuff but make sure you don't come across as cocky.
While you may not get the chance to pitch in an elevator, these skills become invaluable at trade shows and investor showcases. Finally, remember the punchline to the old joke of how you get to Carnegie Hall...practice, practice, practice.