Listen in as an industry expert discusses a business trend.
By Martha Spizziri
Venture capitalists and job seekers have them; businesses need them, too
It’s a truism: Everyone needs an elevator pitch—a way to describe what they do that takes no longer than the average elevator ride. But every company needs an elevator pitch, too.
Obviously, salespeople must be able to state their organization’s significance succinctly. But an elevator pitch also helps reinforce the company’s value with existing customers, says Richard T. Cole, a professor at Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts & Sciences. Beyond that, it can help inspire the employees who give the pitch, which can affect the company’s bottom line. Gallup research shows that highly satisfied, loyal employees usually have a strong understanding of the enterprise they work for, Cole says. Employee satisfaction, in turn, has been found to be strongly linked to customer satisfaction and loyalty.
“Whether you’re in the mailroom or the boardroom, it’s really important for the employee to understand the role that he or she plays in achieving the mission of the organization,” Cole says.
What makes a good elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch may sound similar to a mission or vision statement, and those certainly can inform the pitch. But an elevator pitch is more specific and immediate. It communicates the company’s unique selling proposition and—this is key—how that proposition can help the listener.
Composing the statement should probably begin with the CEO, who might delegate it to the chief PR officer, says Cole, “but it’s not something that can be created in a vacuum.” Soliciting employee input helps ensure a good pitch. Avoid buzzwords, like “world-class,” he adds.
“[The pitch] can’t be hyperbolic or overstated,” he says. “Something that…people aren’t comfortable saying is not going to be said with the kind of passion that you need to make it an effective statement.” And, he adds, “it has to be well-enough rehearsed to appear spontaneous.”
The measure of a good pitch? The listener should feel as if he or she needs to hear more, “at the risk of otherwise not having some need met,” Cole says.
Ultimately, says Cole, “If you can’t say what’s important about your organization and how it makes a difference in 30 seconds, it’s probably not worth saying.”
It has to be well-enough rehearsed to appear spontaneous.
~ Richard T. Cole, professor, Michigan State University