How to Write a Winning Elevator Pitch

elevator

Most entrepreneurs who come up with an idea or concept will need to pitch their company to a potential investor or other interested parties. Preparing the pitch can cause anxiety and stress, as it requires out-of-the-box thinking to get sometimes complex ideas into 30 seconds or less. 

A well-built presentation can make or break your chances of obtaining funding to get your business off the ground. We take a look at everything that you need to know about successful elevator pitches.

Why Do You Need an Elevator Pitch?

First of let’s start with an understanding of what exactly is an elevator pitch. The concept applies to selling yourself, as an individual, or your company. In a nutshell, your pitch should be enough to explain your idea and leave the investor curious for more.

It’s made up of two key concepts: your problem statement and your unique value proposition. Together they need to be enough to explain your company to potential investors. It can even be used to craft your sales content in your marketing strategy.

Potential partners look at whether you have a clear and consistent message delivered with confidence. The reason it’s important is it shows them how well you’ll be able to sell this idea to early adopters and how likely you’ll be to recruit top talent. If you fail at this initial sales pitch, it may signal to investors that you don’t have the business acumen to succeed. 

Criteria of a Winning Elevator Pitch

There are certain criteria that you should meet when you formulate your presentation.

  • Irrefutable. Your pitch is a statement, and you need to state who you are and what you do to the extent that no one can deny your claim.
  • Succinct. The delivery needs to be quick and easy; something you can say in one or two breaths.
  • Understandable. Please keep it simple so that everybody can hear your message and understand what your company is about in a snapshot. Try not to confuse them with technical jargon.
  • Attractive. Ultimately it would help if you convinced the audience that the reward is worth any risk in a few short sentences.

Things to Remember When Pitching

Sometimes it may not be easy to stay focused when creating an elevator pitch, especially if there’s a lot of information and you’re not sure how to fit it into such a short time. Below are a few things to remember when creating the content.

  • Cover only the pertinent information and keep it short and crisp. It should be condensed into a concise 30 seconds speech. 
  • The presentation should explain the need for the product, a unique selling point, how it differentiates from its competitors, and the business model.
  • The aim is to capture the listener’s attention and make them want to know more. It should work as a conversation starter that’ll hopefully lead to a meeting with a full business model that can be discussed at length.
  • Avoid jargon as much as possible. Complicated terminology and buzzwords that don’t add value to your message can confuse and undermine your pitch. Use everyday language to make sure that everybody in your target audience gets the message.
  • Don’t be afraid to start with a question as long as you have an appropriate solution which ties in with your idea or concept.
  • Address your audience’s needs and draw them in by telling them how you can help solve your target market’s problems.
  • Include any information about your company’s achievements or associations. This’ll cover any risk perception by the investors, which is one of the biggest barriers for them to cross. Put them at ease by telling them you have proven results.
  • Show some enthusiasm and emotion. You’re trying to instill excitement in your audience, and spitting out facts and rational actions might not get the result you hope. Investors are emotional beings, so it’s good to include a dynamic benefit statement at the end.

Information You Need Before Writing an Elevator Pitch

Before you can start writing an elevator pitch, you should gather certain information to make the process easier. 

Problem and Solution

You need to define the problem to yourself and then describe the solution to see if it makes sense. Many entrepreneurs start the pitch by describing the product but don’t link it to an actual need. It’s not enough to say that it solves the problem; you also must explain how. 

Target Market Information

It would help if you had your market information ready. Take the time to define and divide your target consumers into segments or smaller groups of people you expect to focus on. It’s tempting to say that your ideal client is everybody, but it doesn’t make for a credible pitch. 

Realistically no matter what your product is, you’re probably targeting a specific group of people, and you need to explain this concisely to the investors. 

Competition

Ensure that you’ve done your research and determine how big your potential market is and how much customers already spend on their current solution. Gain awareness of who your competition is and what they offer. 

Even if no one has come up with a solution the same as yours, people will be using some sort of an alternative to solve their current problem. A quick example would be when the first cars appeared, the competitors weren’t other cars but rather horses and carts, and walking. 

You need to expand your mind and find out what alternatives your target market uses and what makes your concept different.

Team Members

Part of your pitch should include why you and your partners are the right people to fulfil your vision. For this, you need to know your team’s skill sets and precisely why they are important to lead your company forward towards growth and success.

You don’t need to go into too much detail but briefly mention each person’s strengths and how they benefit the company.

Financial Summary

To deliver an excellent pitch you don’t necessarily have to show your forecasted financials, but you must understand your business plan. It’s not all that complicated. You need to know what kind of expenses you’ll have and who pays your bills, or in other words, who your customers are.

Milestones

Formulate a schedule and create some business milestones. Using that information, you should talk about your upcoming targets and when you plan to reach them. If you’ve already hit some notable milestones, then you can also mention those.

By talking about future goals, it makes the business seem more real. It also shows investors that you’ve thought out detailed steps and understand what it will take to launch the concept and start bringing in revenue.

Putting it All Together

Now that you understand the criteria and features of a winning pitch, you can take the information and write your speech.

Use the following seven points to guide your 30-second presentation:

  • State the problem
  • Explain the solution
  • Describe the competition 
  • Introduce your team and their skill sets
  • Give a short financial summary
  • Provide a brief outline of milestones
  • Conclude with a call to action

You’ll find that you probably rewrite your pitch numerous times until it sounds perfect for what you want to communicate to the investors. The call to action is a commonly used technique and a proven method for increasing conversion rates by as much as 121 percent.

A call to action simply means that you offer your audience the opportunity to contact you if they want to continue with the conversation. You can invite them to visit your website, download your app, or subscribe to your service. 

Mistakes to Avoid When Presenting Your Pitch

Now that you’ve got your winning elevator pitch, you’re probably very excited to get going and present it to every investor you come across. Before you do that, take a look at what you should avoid doing when you present your company.

  • Introducing yourself is a common mistake that most entrepreneurs make when delivering their presentation. Don’t say who you are or even the name of your company in the beginning. You want to catch their attention first and leave them with a name they can search for online later.
  • Many people are uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience and tend to sway and move their hands to calm themselves. It’s very distracting and makes you come across as nervous and lacking confidence. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and keep your hand movements to a minimum.
  • Technical company founders love using complex words, and instead of focusing on the problem that the product is solving, they try to impress by using fancy terminology. It’s a big mistake because if investors don’t understand what you’re saying, they’ll lose interest.
  • Talking too fast is another sign of nervousness, and if you rattle off too much information too quickly, your audience will lose the message. Practice your pitch until you know it off by heart, and this will help you slow down. You’ll sound wiser and more confident.
  • By now, you know that pitches need to be short and convey your idea to an audience. Don’t lose focus and start rambling on without actually saying anything relevant.
  • Forgetting the problem is another mistake that entrepreneurs make when pitching. They tend to start with features and benefits without really linking these to a market need.
  • It’s great to have enthusiasm when you address an investor, but don’t allow desperation to bleed into your pitch. Sometimes passion for a project, coupled with the opportunity being presented, can lead people to sound desperate.
  • Avoid starting the speech with “I am”, and try instead to start with an interesting hook or question that locks-in their attention.
  • Don’t forget to leverage social proof if you have it by dropping a mention or two tastefully in your speech. It’ll make the audience take you more seriously and help them connect with what you’re doing, enhancing the overall pitch.
  • Don’t forget to explain to your investors what’s in it for them. It might be obvious, but it’s a fundamental point that many founders seem to forget. Explain why they should care about you, your company, and the solution you offer for a market problem.

Elevator Pitch Examples

Below we’ve put together some winning elevator pitch examples from top companies. 

  • KangoGift – We make it easy to say ‘thank you’ at work
  • Cigarette Pollution Solutions – I make energy from cigarette butts
  • Merchant Machine – Merchant Machine helps small businesses quickly and easily save money on their credit card processing costs by comparing the leading options in the market. It’s completely free to the end user, there are no obligations and takes just one minute to do.
  • Palo Alto Software – We make business planning and performance tracking tools for small business owners so they can more easily raise startup funds, develop budgets, and track performance on an easy-to-use financial dashboard.

Conclusion

There’s nothing more exciting than presenting your amazing idea to investors that can help your business expand. However, writing a winning elevator pitch can be complicated even though it’s only 30 seconds long. 

For your pitch to be successful, the information you represent needs to be irrefutable, succinct, understandable, and attractive. You need to describe your target market’s problem and how your company is the ideal solution. 

Furthermore, the investors will want to know who your competitors are and how you differ from them. As part of your presentation, introduce your team members and explain how their particular skill sets will move the business forward. 

To finish off, you can give a brief financial summary and offer an insight into your goals and milestones. To ensure that the investors know where to find you, include a call to action as part of your presentation by inviting them to contact you via your website, app, or subscribe to your service. 

Remember to be calm when you deliver your pitch; talk slowly and clearly. When you’re standing in front of potential lenders, avoid moving around too much, which may make you appear unconfident. 

Gustavo Souza

Gustavo Souza

Managing Partner at SaaSholic, early stage micro-VC focused on LATAM SaaS. Gustavo is lawyer by formation but he found in sales+marketing his areas of true interest and excellence.

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