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The Art of the Elevator Pitch

July 21, 2010

Whether you are a business owner or employee/associate, every person who wants to generate business should have a ready-to-say Elevator Pitch.

After becoming a BNI member ( with the obligation to give a 60-second speech about my business every Tuesday morning at 7 a.m., I did some research regarding what makes a good elevator speech.

Also, in June, I was at Duquesne University’s Entrepreneur Growth Conference ( here in Pittsburgh and registrants were supposed to text to a certain number to have a chance during the luncheon to stand at the podium and give their elevator pitch to the 100’s of participants.  Although I had sent the text, I was hoping I would not win; I still had not yet honed my elevator pitch.

Would you have been ready?  What would you have said?  Please feel free to comment and share here.

BNI materials suggest that a 30 or 60 second speech about your business should be in this format, which I think is pretty effective:



I help ___________ to ___________.

Tell a client STORY using the 4P’s:

  • PROFILE: profile of a specific client (think of a story re: a specific client, perhaps your most ideal client).  *Describe to audience using specifics, i.e., how old are they, where do they work, where do they live.  If a business, how large is the business, where are they located, # of employees, amount of revenue, etc.
  • PROBLEM: problem or issue of that client.
  • PRODUCT/SERVICE & RESULT:  describe your firm’s product/services rendered to solve that issue
  • PROSPECT:  in closing, provide a description of referrals you would like to have, people whom you would like to meet who might know/have contact with that ideal client.

For that last step, our chapter’s BNI director, Emil Heintzinger (plug for his business: went through an exercise with me using imagery.  Your ideal client is a hub of a wheel.  Who are the spokes, who deals with that person often enough to know that that person might need to hire you?

For example, because of my extensive experience as a bankruptcy lawyer and turnaround consultant, one of my firm’s ideal clients is a business person and/or his or her struggling small to mid-size business (1-50 employees; revenue under $5 million) that faces the threat of substantial litigation, liens, seizure of assets, foreclosure, bankruptcy, etc.

That distressed company is the hub.  Who are the spokes; who deals with that company and knows how it is doing?

An accountant, personal financial planner,  payroll service, commercial landlord, property management companies, other tenants, website hosting agency, cleaning service, employees or independent contractors, printers, advertising or PR firms,  real estate agents, business brokers, IT firms, customers, suppliers,  corporate in-house lawyers, outside corporate counsel, credit or risk analysts, lenders/bankers, workout officers, commercial litigators, collection agencies, credit counseling agencies, medical billing companies, employee benefits administrators, insurance brokers, taxing authorities.  You get the picture.

Depending upon the client story that I retell in the speech, I then end the pitch with “a good referral for me would be _____[those types of the aforementioned business people]”.

Hope this helps.  Oh and btw, subliminal message here-send me referrals!! 🙂

Again, please feel free to do this exercise regarding your job and share your pitches here as a comment.

Interesting elevator pitch links:
[has example]

The Nine C’s of an Effective Elevator Pitch

1. Concise
2. Clear
3. Compelling
4. Credible
5. Conceptual
6. Concrete
7. Customized
8. Consistent
9. Conversational

*10.  I would add a #10- be creative, use props, be visual, use other people in the audience.

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