What Is an Elevator Pitch and How Do You Use It?

An elevator pitch (or 30 second commercial) is a brief answer (less than 30 seconds) to the question “What do you do”? It is designed to get the person who hears it or reads it to ask ‘tell me more’ or ‘how do you do that’ or ‘that sounds very interesting’. In essence it should arouse curiosity.

Who Makes Them?

In theory everyone should use them to engage potential clients, customers or patients. Practically, they are used by people in business development or sales when talking to potential clients, customers or patients.


The purpose is to arouse curiosity and open the door to more dialogue between seller and potential buyer and they should be delivered anytime someone asks you what you do.

How Long Should They Be?

They should be about as long as it takes to deliver in an elevator ride, hence the name elevator pitch. Practically no more than 100 hundred words – which is about the maximum number of words a person can speak at a normal rate of speech. As important as the words themselves are so is the tonality (pitch, volume, pace, and rhythm) and delivery. How you say it or deliver it is just as important as what you say.

When Should You Use Them?

They should be used anytime you are having an initial conversation with a potential client, customer or patient. This includes the initial phone call, face to face meeting, networking event, chamber of commerce function, at church, at Rotary. In short, this response should be so well crafted and rehearsed – not canned – that one can deliver it flawlessly anytime someone ask, “What do you do?”.

For Example:

To follow is an example of my elevator pitch and the template that I have used to train thousands of sales professionals to successfully develop their own elevator pitch.

“I work with people who are:

Frustrated by a long sales cycle;

Upset because they find themselves educating the prospect and giving away their technical expertise to clients for free;

Concerned because they have to drop their price too often in order to get the business;

Under Pressure to produce more sales but they aren’t sure how to find enough new prospects;

& downright Angry that they put massive amounts of time and energy into presentations, proposals & quotes that go nowhere;

“I don’t suppose you are experiencing any of these issues are you?”

How Did I Come Up With This?

An elevator pitch should focus on either problems you solve or the benefits that you offer. Of the two, problem statements are more emotionally impactful and engage the potential buyer more powerfully.

Why use it? Was it successful?

In short, use it because it works. It is a sales technique that has helped me make several million dollars in my sales career. I have also taught it to thousands of sales professionals who have used it to make hundreds of millions of dollars in sales over the last 15 years.


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Thanks Steve, working on mine now.
Heading to Chicago for a big event next week,
then to Baltimore.
Hope to see you there.

Deb McKinney

Steve, thanks so much for the information. As I am “learning” to network effectively, I have come to realize how important a good short introduction or commercial is to my success or lack of it.

Lately, I have been paying attention to elevator pitches or 30 – 60 second commercials and have heard some terrible ones but I have also heard some really good ones.

The good ones require some thought about who do you really want to attract? Then figure out what keeps them up at night … what is it from their view point that would get their attention.

To your success in any economy,

Deb (Debby) McKinney
Destin, Florida

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