Once you have identified your audience you can isolate the needs that the members of that audience have, which allows you to prioritize and determine which of your key points are most important for you to make in your short pitch. For example, if you are speaking with a potential customer who may be interested in purchasing your product instead of from a competitor, but is concerned about your pricing structure relative to his/her current supplier, you may focus on the value of your customer service. Or, if you are talking to a member of the community who is concerned about your environmental impact and is interested in getting to know more about you and your business before attending the community meeting, you will want to focus on how your business is meeting all current regulations as well as the value that your business is bringing to the community through employment and local sponsorships. Again, beyond what you actually say, being prepared to discuss what your business does, and why, portrays a positive image and good first impression when delivered well, and shows people that you are confident and positive about your product/services and the value you create.
No matter who your audience is — a key to a successful elevator pitch is to identify and communicate the value proposition for the individual you are talking to at the moment.
An elevator pitch is NOT a sales pitch
Many people who are unfamiliar with the concept of elevator pitches are immediately turned off by the notion because they envision the development of a two minute “sales pitch” designed to quickly “close a deal.” Your elevator pitch is an opportunity to showcase your grain or feed business to a wide range of audiences, both within and outside your operation. Elevator pitches are not just for the sales force; arguably you would like every employee or affiliate of your operation to be able to provide an informative and coherent overview of what problems your business solves and how you create value for your customers. So, if done well, this initial introduction to your business will highlight your business in a positive manner which in some cases will result in goodwill for your business and in other cases may spark an opportunity for further communication and a potential sale.
Key components of your elevator pitch
When it comes to elevator pitches, they are not “one size fits all” propositions. The concept is not to memorize a two-minute speech that you can pull out at opportune moments. The concept is to have approximately two minutes of material that you have prepared in advance to address key issues. The more you practice your pitch and include the key points you want to make in your two-minute window of opportunity, the better prepared you will be to have these conversations when the opportunity presents itself. The two essential components of an elevator pitch are:
1) Identification of the Problem that you are Solving, and
2) Clearly depict how you and your business bring Value to your customers which translates into profit for your business and/or Value to the community.
As you adapt your two-minute talk to fit various audiences and situations, it is easy to see the inherent value in preparing to talk about these two essential components. This information is of interest to anyone who has even the potential to interact with your business. Further, by being prepared to deliver to people what they need to know in a clear, concise and well-organized manner, you are conveying more than the two minutes of verbal communication: you are sending the message that you are focused, prepared and professional.
Adapt your elevator pitch for the location and format
Just as there are a number of audiences which you should be prepared to address, there are situational and style nuances to be aware of. Be cognizant of the formality of the audience you are addressing. If you are talking to just one person, you can make direct eye contact with that person and keep examples relevant for that person. However, in some situations you will be visiting with a group of several people where one or more of the group are influencers for your business. In the group situation you need to make eye contact with all members of the group and choose examples that resonate with everyone. While most of the opportunities are conversational in nature, there are times when you will have a few minutes to make a short presentation and generally those situations demand a more formal approach. Keep in mind that although many elevator pitches are associated with two minutes, in some cases you will need to make your points in a short 30 seconds. Being prepared for the physical set-up is also critical. If you anticipate that the interaction will be in a noisy environment, keep in mind that the person you are talking to may only hear a portion of what you actually say. Leaving the person with a business card at the end of the conversation and then following up with an e-mail or phone call the next day can be important strategies here. Finally, pay attention to whether the communication is in-person, over the phone, via e-mail or using social networking as it will be important to adapt to the situation. An elevator pitch is not a memorized two-minute speech. A well-prepared elevator pitch will provide you with a starting point, and you need to be prepared to tailor your talk to the situation at hand.