3 Key Elements in Creating a Winning Elevator Pitch for Your Startup

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What if you had the chance to sell your big idea to a million-dollar investor, but you had to do it in the time it took to ride together in an elevator? Those 60 seconds of pitching can be enough to make even the most confident entrepreneur break into a sweat; however, the elevator pitch doesn’t have to be frightening.

According to the host of Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch, David Meltzer, there is a good starting formula for capturing investors’ attention and leaving them wanting more. Here are three points he said should be considered mandatory for success:

  1. Stimulate interest.

Start your pitch by getting your listener’s attention and holding their interest so you can create an emotional connection. Does your product solve a big problem? Does it fulfill an everyday need? Is it the sliced bread of the tech, beauty or, well, the bread industry?

For example, if you’re pitching an easier, more affordable way to plan a wedding, you may want to start out with the eye-watering national averages for wedding costs. It’s a basic but oft-overlooked rule of marketing – connecting your pitch to a pain point is essential.

Give them something interesting and shiny in the first few words. Whether you start with an analogy, a data point or even something a little surprising, your goal is to make them want to keep listening.

And, while you’re at it, Metzer noted, it’s not a bad idea to illuminate areas of your own experience or team that your investors might see as shortcomings and position them as strengths. For example, if you’re a 25-year-old entrepreneur, introducing yourself as “the 25-year-old founder of X Company” makes your age sound like a laurel rather than a sticking point. Investors are quick to notice shortcomings, so don’t try to camouflage them. Instead, show them why those perceived weaknesses don’t matter, or even better, why they’re a benefit.

  1. Transition interest and share vision.

Zig Ziglar famously said “people don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” But Metzer added that, when it comes to responding to an elevator pitch, people often buy on emotion… but for logical reasons.

Once you’ve caught your audience’s attention, your transition brings it down to brass tacks and gives them the information needed to bridge that gap between emotion and logic. In other words, they’re more likely to buy in if you give them logical reasons to act on their emotional impulses.

Tell them briefly what your product does and why it’s interesting. Investors don’t need to hear a recitation of a bullet point list of attributes; they need to understand and connect with the benefits your product provides.

Share how the product stands out from others in the market; and how it can be a gamechanger. Your goal in sharing your vision is to make the listener care and inspire them to take action.

If you have other key partners lined up, and you can share their names without breaking confidentiality, let your listener know. Having other investors in the pipeline won’t necessarily make or break your pitch, but it does let potential stakeholders know they won’t be taking a leap of faith all alone on your product.

Confidence in your product, your vision and yourself are crucial to close your pitch.

  1. And, speaking of closing, you need to have an ask.

It’s extremely rare to pitch an idea and walk away after 60 seconds with a million dollars in venture capital. At the same time, however, you want to leave the conversation with more than a “thanks for sharing” from your listener. Use your elevator pitch not as a sale, but as a foot in the figurative door, an invitation to get to the next step.

That may mean presenting a dollar ask in exchange for a specific percentage stake in your company. Confidence is key to an outstanding elevator pitch and if you’re too afraid to make a specific ask, you may not be ready.

Consider continuing to perfect your pitch (or your product) until you feel strongly enough about the benefits that the request is effortless. You want your pitch to genuinely feel more like the start of a valuable partnership than one party begging the other for an unearned favor.

When it comes to an elevator pitch, one of the best things to remember is that it doesn’t just come down to what you say, but also to the way you say it. Companies don’t always end up being what the investor or even the founder expects; we’re all familiar with the infamous pivot. Seasoned investors know they’re investing in the person, not just the product. By bringing your enthusiasm, energy, and personality to the pitch, you can let your listener know you (along with your product) are a winning bet.y

Martin Jones

Martin Jones is a Senior Marketing Manager with the corporate Cox Communications social media team where he assists in leading strategy, campaign ideation and marketing execution for Cox Business social media & content marketing. Today, over 1 million fans engage with Cox Communications content, campaigns and Customer Care on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube. LinkedIn and Google+.