Rethinking the Elevator Pitch

My friend Adam writes a great blog about his entrepreneurial journey, and a post earlier this week was once again spot on. In the post, “This is where I encourage you to pitch your elevator pitch”, Adam talks about the fallacy that he sees in the concept of an elevator pitch.

I hate the whole concept of the elevator pitch. I think it is the most overrated, over-discussed element of salesmanship. And entrepreneurship. And elevatorship.

Sure, it is important to be able to succinctly talk about your business. Your Great Aunt Petunia doesn’t have enough time left on Earth to waste it on your full story. But I have never bought anything or hired anyone because of a brief discussion I had on an elevator, escalator or Wonk-avator.

I play the quiet game…I want to hear what potential clients talk about. I want to hear what challenges they are facing. I want to know where their pain points are. I want to identify their greatest unmet needs.

I love this concept. If you’re pinning your growth plans on the ability of someone to speak about your business in a 90-second “pitch” situation, then you should prepare for disappointment. That’s not how business works. Of course it would be nice to be able to succinctly articulate what your business does, but its so less important than our marketing books tell us it is.

Instead, focus on listening and then being relatable based on what you hear. Practice talking to people about your business and reacting to what they’re saying vs. focusing so much on what you want to say.

Listening, to Adam’s point, is a much better way to approach making an impression on someone.