The 30 Second Elevator Pitch: Structure and Essentials

photo of an elevator in a business center
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The 30 Second Elevator Pitch: Structure and Essentials

photo of an elevator in a business center

Elevator pitches are very short, quick summaries of what your company offers the target market in the form of value, among other things.

A thirty-second elevator pitch is one of the most essential tools to have in your marketing and sales arsenal. It’s short, straight to the point, and often a key factor to landing meetings and quick deals.

The term itself originated from entrepreneurs who needed to pitch to busy investors quickly to secure funding. The idea behind this is that sales people should be able to deliver a succinct and compelling pitch in the time it takes to ride an elevator up a couple floors – less than a minute.

Veloxy has you covered with a 30-second elevator pitch structure and 5 key essentials for an effective elevator pitch. Let’s get started:

30 Second Elevator Pitch (Save it to Your Phone)

I was recently asked a question by a sales protege. “Why is a 30 second elevator pitch important for salespeople in 2021?

This question blew me away because it hammers home a very valid point for both marketing and salespeople.

We live and work in an overcommunicated world. The average United States citizen spends at least 9.5 hours per day being inundated by their smartphone, television, and the radio or streaming service of choice.

With that being said, how are salespeople expected to deliver a successful elevator pitch—especially if the prospect has their head submerged in their smartphone?

The answer is to rethink the elevator pitch. Gone are the days where a simple analogy or statistic can awaken, captivate, and retain a prospect’s attention.

Below you will find an elevator pitch structure that will not only “break through the noise”, but it will generate more meetings, more clients—and my favorite, most underrated benefit of solid elevator pitches—more word of mouth!

  1. Use Enthusiasm and Motion
  2. Begin with a Pain Reliever or Creative Catch (5 seconds)
  3. Choose One Word or Phrase to Focus on and Repeat (2.5 seconds)
  4. Follow the NSV Method (20 seconds)
  5. Deliver the Call to Action (2.5 seconds)

1. Use Enthusiasm and Motion

Nothing conveys confidence and intrigue more than enthusiasm.  When Ben Stein’s character called out that infamous line from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Bueller? Bueller?”, the look on the faces of each student proves why monotone, low-energy voices puts people to sleep.

Now think about a comedian like Jerry Seinfeld or Dave Chappelle. Not only do they ask the audience questions to get them involved, they’re always walking around and moving their arms and body. This is not accidental—it’s strategic! Where the comedian stands at each part of his routine, especially the punchline, is predetermined without the audience noticing.

When you give a 30 second elevator speech, you should not only sound like you believe in what you’re saying, your movements should seem natural and have meaning.

If you’re communicating the amount of time your prospect’s sales team is wasting every single day, you could use your hands to visualize how much time is being wasted to really drive the point home. And to maintain the prospect’s attention, casually change where you’re standing for each part of the elevator pitch structure.  This helps deliver nonverbal cues to your prospect that you’re shifting from one idea to another.

Given that we’re concentrating on a 30 second elevator pitch, you may transition between moving your feet to shift to a new idea, or simply gesturing a 2 with your fingers.

photo of two businessman on an elevator

2. Begin with a Pain Reliever or Creative Catch

If you were to keep track of every marketing or sales message you heard for a month, you’d be able to divide them into two groups—vitamins and pain killers. Fortunately for you, 80-90% focus on a ‘vitamin message’. Examples include, “Reach more customers!” or “This is a better way to grow!

Nothing turns a prospect off faster than a vitamin message. You want to communicate a painkiller message. “Overwhelmed by non-selling activities?” or “Salespeople are spending the majority of their time on activities that don’t produce revenue.”

Why choose pain relievers over vitamins? When a prospect is experiencing pain, the need for a solution is urgent.

The 3 most effective pain relievers are:

  • Time: communicate how much time is being lost
  • Money: communicate how much revenue is being lost
  • Stress and Security: communicate the absence of peace-of-mind

Another way to grab a prospect’s immediate attention is with a creative catch.

Humans have been telling stories for thousands of years. Nothing sparks a person’s curiosity than an introduction to a story. “You wouldn’t believe it, but the other day, a CEO told me that his sales team saved $125,000 last year.”

But when you only have thirty seconds, especially if you’re indeed in an elevator, use materials in your surrounding environment.

A good example would be the time it takes an elevator to climb from the first floor to the last floor. “Did you know that your sales team can automate their daily non-selling activities in the time it takes for this elevator to go from 1 to 20?”

Communicating a pain reliever or creative catch in 5 seconds is a great way to capture your prospect’s attention.

3. Choose One Word or Phrase to Focus On & Repeat

The strongest brands in the world have one thing in common. They all own one word and/or phrase in the mind of the buyer. Say you’re interested in buying a car. When I say the word ‘Safety’, what car company do you think of?  Volvo. Luxury with Performance? Mercedes. Dependability / Reliability? Honda.  You get the picture.

These words and phrases also have something in common. They’re simple.

In the field of brand positioning, the fundamental path to getting into the mind of the customer is using and owning a word / concept that is not currently owned by a competitor, and that which you can hang your hat on based on customer experience.

You should never start and finish an elevator pitch without using this word or phrase three times. To create a multiplier effect, practice anaphora—emphasizing a word or phrase at the beginning or end of consecutive statements.

Here’s an example: “Let’s eliminate downtime and prioritizing of leads and opps. Let’s eliminate manual and redundant CRM data entry. Let’s eliminate all of your non-selling activities while 10xing the activities that actually generate revenue.

The salesperson is highlighting specific non-selling activities that the prospect can eliminate, and then grouping them under an umbrella of ‘non-selling activities’ at the end. Eliminate non-selling activities, a common pain point among all sales managers.

4. Follow the NSV Method

Now that you’ve spent under 10 seconds to initiate the proper disposition and direction to pitch the prospect, the meat of the pitch is what you’ll spend the next 20 seconds on.

All you have to remember is the following three easy words and steps.

  1. Need: Stir the prospect’s emotions by exposing a need they have.
  2. Satisfy: Calm their emotions around the need by presenting a solution.
  3. Visualize: Use “Imagine…” and “Now picture yourself…” to help them realize the feelings experienced once the benefits are realized.

Each of your sales reps are wasting 1,372 hours a year on non-selling activities. How much more revenue would you realize if they spent those hours on selling activities? Now picture yourself a year from now dropping off a sales report on the CEO’s desk that shows a consistently growing revenue stream—and it only cost you $5,000 a year.

The best part of the NSV method is how it helps you easily transition to the last part of the 30-second elevator pitch—the call to action.

5. Deliver the Call to Action

If you just shared your NSV message, your prospect will be itching to continue the conversation or schedule some time on their calendar. However, don’t pass on the opportunity to further magnify other needs that they may have that you can address during that next conversation.

Now what if I told you that in addition to eliminating non-selling activities, I can also promise shorter sales cycles and wider pipelines… Would you like to know more?

In addition to improving the impression you’ve made on the prospect, you’ll likely attract more attendees to the next conversation with the prospect and their organization by addressing and solving other needs with one quick sentence.

Example of a 30 Second Elevator Pitch

Check this out (sales rep opens the stopwatch app on their phone, clicks start, and shows it to the prospect continuously)…

In the next 30 seconds, your sales team could have eliminated 100% of their non-selling activity

I think you’d be interested to know that, on average, a sales rep spends 66% of their day on non-selling activities—that’s over 1,300 hours a year per rep

Would you like to know how you can eliminate 100% of their non-selling activity?

Even better

While keeping your sales team on the selling activities that produce revenue, what if I told you that the same $49 solution can also shorten sales cycles and widen pipelines?”

The important thing to remember is that this 30-second elevator pitch structure is here to help guide you in your own unique way. Making the elevator pitch your own is very important in ensuring that the pitch sounds authentic and natural.

Be sure to save the below picture to your smartphone for reference in real situations:

elevator pitch for smartphone image

5 Essentials of an Effective Elevator Pitch

1. Accessible Language

This is hands down the most important element of a good presentation. It doesn’t matter how long or short the pitch is if no one can understand you. Some of the best sales pitches can be understood by anyone, even children. Sure, it might seem easier or even more professional to use technical jargon. However, try to find ways to explain everything in layman terms.

Software developers are incredibly famous for this. While pitching, they might say things like, “I work at front end design and development to execute HTML5, Javascript, CSS3, Ajax among other web 2.0 tech to make scalable website apps.” While the message may have gotten across, it won’t be immediately clear to everyone. A simpler way to say this would be, “I’m a front end developer and designer who creates beautiful online customer experiences with functional web programs.”

2. Key Information

Once you know how to simplify the language, you need to identify all the basic information that any prospect would want to know. The information should include your business name, what products or services you offer and what problems you solve. Additionally, include your value proposition as well as what makes you stand out from the competition. Once you have their attention, finish up with a simplified version of your business model, plans for the future and of course, a call to action.

This may seem like quite a lot to cover in under a minute, but it’s very possible if you keep it clear and concise. Let’s look at a quick example, “Hi, we’re a marketing agency that helps SMBs communicate better with their customers. We achieve this by providing marketing solutions as well as coaching to improve your in-house comm skills – both in person and social media. We work with our clients using a monthly retainer. Why don’t you stop by and chat with us on how we can help you better connect with your customers?”

3. Clear and Concise

For most entrepreneurs, there’s nothing more painful than having to distill your company into 30 seconds. I mean, there’s so much passion and emotion that you want your prospects to feel and understand. Perhaps you’d even like to tell them all about upcoming projects and other details. Whatever the case, don’t do it!

What you think is a great story could turn from a simple spiel into a lengthy, boring ramble that will derail any hopes of a deal real quick. If the business relationship between you and your prospects will last, you’ll have plenty of time to share all this as you get to know each other better. Likewise, do not overwhelm the client with an abundance of information. Allow them some time to breathe and digest what you’ve already told them.

4. Diversified and Human

These two go hand in hand. While you want to be thoroughly prepared with your elevator pitch, the last thing you want to do is memorize it word for word. There are a few problems that come with delivering a mechanical sounding pitch. For one, think about all the different clients you’ll meet. You’ve got investors, potential business partners, and even customers. All these people have different needs and will want to know about different aspects of your business. A customer won’t care about your overheads or profitability – but investors will want to hear all about it.

Take the time to modify your pitch for each of these people so you’re never caught off guard. Be in the moment when delivering your pitch and genuinely engage with the prospect. Do not just automatically blurt out a pre-rehearsed script because the client will notice. What you want is to sound as natural as possible, casual if you will. Just memorize key information, practice your pitch, but be ready to tweak it depending on who you’re talking to.

5. Invitation to Continue the Conversation

As the elevator doors open and your 30 seconds to a minute are up, you should be winding up the pitch. Even if you made a convincing pitch, don’t follow the prospect around still trying to talk their heads off. Know when to finish and how to extend an invitation to hopefully continue the conversation later on.

Maybe offer them your card or ask for a follow up call one of these days. If they’re really interested, you might even get a follow up meeting or lunch appointment. You always increase your chances of closing deals when you say what you do, and then do what you say. Besides, you’ll know who’s really interested and who was just faking because they had to take the same elevator with you.

photo of a salesman pitching on an elevator

The Impact of Technology Advancements on Elevator Pitches

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, technology advancements have left an indelible mark on the art of delivering elevator pitches.

The traditional face-to-face encounters have expanded to encompass virtual interactions, AI-powered tools, and innovative communication channels. Let’s explore how these advancements have revolutionized elevator pitches and empowered sales professionals to make lasting impressions in the digital realm.

Virtual Presence, Real Connections

With the rise of video conferencing and virtual collaboration platforms, elevator pitches are no longer confined to physical spaces.

Salespeople can now deliver compelling pitches to prospects located across the globe, transcending geographical barriers. The virtual realm brings with it a new set of challenges and opportunities, requiring sales professionals to master the art of virtual charisma and engaging storytelling.

AI-Powered Personalization

Technology has bestowed upon us the ability to gather vast amounts of customer data and leverage it to personalize elevator pitches for specific individuals or industries.

AI-driven tools can analyze customer preferences, behaviors, and purchase histories to craft tailored pitches that resonate with prospects on a deeper level. By understanding the unique pain points and aspirations of their target audience, salespeople can deliver pitches that feel tailor-made for each prospect’s needs.

Beyond Words: Multimedia Elevator Pitches

In today’s attention economy, capturing and retaining a prospect’s attention is more challenging than ever.

Technology has opened up avenues for sales professionals to enhance their elevator pitches by incorporating multimedia elements. Imagine a visually stunning presentation accompanied by impactful videos, graphics, or interactive elements that amplify the message. By utilizing multimedia tools, salespeople can create immersive experiences that leave a lasting impact on their audience.

Tailoring Elevator Pitches for Specific Industries or Niches

In the vast ocean of business, each industry or niche represents a distinct ecosystem with its own unique challenges, trends, and pain points.

To make a lasting impression, it’s essential to tailor elevator pitches to the specific needs and characteristics of the industry or niche you are targeting. Let’s explore how customization can elevate your elevator pitches and position you as a trusted partner within a specific domain.

Research, Research, Research

The key to tailoring an effective elevator pitch lies in thorough research. Immerse yourself in the industry or niche you are targeting. Understand the prevailing trends, common pain points, and emerging opportunities. Familiarize yourself with the industry-specific jargon, challenges, and success stories.

This knowledge will serve as the foundation for crafting a compelling pitch that speaks directly to the hearts and minds of your prospects.

Addressing Industry Pain Points

Every industry has its pain points, those persistent challenges that keep business leaders awake at night.

Tailoring your elevator pitch to address these pain points demonstrates your understanding of the industry and positions you as a problem solver. Highlight how your product or service specifically addresses these challenges, offering a unique solution or a competitive advantage that others may not possess.

Speaking the Language

Just as each industry has its pain points, it also has its own language. Industry-specific terminology, acronyms, and buzzwords are the currency of effective communication within a niche.

Incorporate this specialized vocabulary into your elevator pitch to establish instant credibility and resonate with your audience. Speaking their language creates a sense of familiarity and builds trust, signaling that you are part of their world.

Elevator Pitches for Different Sales Scenarios

In the dynamic world of sales, mastering the art of delivering elevator pitches in various scenarios is essential.

Whether you find yourself in a bustling networking event, a bustling trade show, or navigating the digital landscape of social media, adapting your elevator pitch to the specific sales scenario can make all the difference. Let’s explore how you can tailor your pitch for different scenarios to capture attention and leave a lasting impression.

The Networking Event Shuffle

Picture yourself at a lively networking event, where conversations flow like a dance. In this scenario, your elevator pitch needs to be concise, captivating, and easy to remember.

Craft a hook that sparks curiosity and compels your listener to inquire further. Share a brief story or a compelling statistic that highlights the value you bring. Remember, brevity is the key at networking events, as you only have a few moments to capture attention before moving on to the next conversation.

The Trade Show Spotlight

Trade shows are bustling environments teeming with potential prospects and competitors. To stand out in this sea of exhibitors, your elevator pitch must shine like a beacon.

Start with a captivating opening line that grabs attention and conveys your unique selling proposition. Highlight the specific benefits your product or service offers, addressing pain points and differentiating yourself from the competition. Engage your prospects by asking thought-provoking questions and providing tangible examples of how your solution can solve their challenges.

The Digital Landscape Dance

Welcome to the digital age, where social media platforms serve as virtual networking events. Crafting an effective elevator pitch for the digital landscape requires a thoughtful blend of creativity and precision.

Begin by optimizing your social media profiles to reflect your expertise and value proposition. Use catchy headlines and compelling visuals to capture attention and entice prospects to engage further. In your elevator pitch, leverage the power of storytelling, providing insights, and showcasing your successes to build credibility and trust.

The Cold Call Connection

Cold calling may seem daunting, but with a well-crafted elevator pitch, you can turn cold prospects into warm leads.

Start by acknowledging the prospect’s challenges or pain points to establish empathy and rapport. Clearly articulate the value your product or service brings, focusing on how it solves their specific problems. Engage the prospect in a conversation, asking open-ended questions that encourage them to share more about their needs.

By demonstrating your understanding and offering a solution, you can turn a cold call into a warm connection.

The Referral Rendezvous

Referrals are gold in the sales world, as they come with built-in trust and credibility.

When delivering an elevator pitch to a referred prospect, make sure to acknowledge the mutual connection and express gratitude for the referral. Leverage the referral’s positive experience to establish credibility and build trust. Tailor your pitch to highlight how your product or service aligns with the referred prospect’s needs and aspirations.

By demonstrating the value you bring and reinforcing the connection, you enhance your chances of converting the referral into a loyal customer.

Conclusion on Effective Elevator Pitches

An elevator pitch is hands down the most useful marketing tool for sales people to master. Not only is it the first thing your prospects learn about you, but it allows you to distill your company for busy people. Improve your pitch persuasiveness today by reading up on our blog posts – how to identify and sell to different buyer personas.

Similarly, make sure you have the right tools to help you land the best opportunities. With Veloxy, sales reps can get updated information on potential business opportunities near them as well as gather information about their prospects. This will go a long way towards knowing how to tailor your elevator pitch to deliver maximum impact in the shortest time possible.

For more insight, be sure to check out the book, Small Message, Big Impact by Terri Sjodin, and The New Elevator Pitch by Chris Westfall.

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Samir Majumdar

Samir Majumdar

Samir is the CEO and Co-founder of Veloxy. After spending 20+ years creating corporate systems, boosting revenue, and eliminating inefficiencies, Samir started Veloxy to help sales professionals shorten sales cycles, accelerate pipelines, and close more deals.

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