January 9, 2020




Anyone who has ever sold anything has been asked –“what’s your elevator pitch?”

The idea behind this pitch is to encapsulate what is great about your company, idea or product quickly into the time it takes (hypothetically) to travel between when the decision maker got on the elevator and when they are getting off of it.  Essentially, it’s about how a salesperson can dump just enough information into the space – so that the person listening will want what your selling.

Salespeople spend hours refining what they share and how they share it – creating the exact right 30 seconds to land the deal, to hook the prospect; to sell.  Some even hire consultants or marketers to polish their spin into the perfect package of bite sized information and for a long time, in just the right place; that tactic was effective.

Because of this, the elevator pitch is a tried and tested idea, standard- it’s as ubiquitous as the business card.  But what if we get curious about it and consider the flaws in the idea? Let’s step back from what’s universal, the “everyday” and consider if the elevator pitch is still relevant. What are its limits?   Can you do it differently?

What is limiting about what’s common?

Everyone is doing it.  It stands to reason that the way to stand out from the pack rarely is to join them. Most decision makers hear from dozens of sales people in any given week, some hear from that many in an hour. Most, have gatekeepers (receptionist, executive assistants or “associates”) hired specifically to interrupt this inundation.  So why try to cram your message into the same tactics as the next team? What would happen if you re-imagine your conversation, develop a different approach and break free from what’s likely turned into “noise”.

Time is against you.  The elevator pitch is about brevity in a confined space. By nature, the tempo is artificially rushed and rushing sets everyone’s pulse higher (both the speaker and the listener).  A raised pulse, raises the stakes and the anxiety level, often leading to a sense of discomfort.  Everyone wants to escape that which is causing them discomfort and discomfort is not the place you want your decision maker to make choices from.

They are looking at the door. The next time you get on an elevator, look around you, where is everyone looking? You will probably notice that there are three places people are commonly focusing on: the numbers indicating the floors we pass, their phones or straight ahead at the door.   This is a great way to think about the limits imposed by brevity and tempo: the focus of the conversation never really lands on your information if the listener has their focus trained tightly on “what’s next”.

Authenticity is the new black. The elevator pitch doesn’t allow for authenticity. It is a challenge to get enough information inside the limited space you have created and there’s little room for authenticity to bloom.  It’s hard to talk about what is special, unique or valuable in a meaningful way and what’s more- you don’t have enough time to share what really moves you about what you are doing, selling or projecting.   Authentic connection and an exchange about what’s compelling to you both is valuable and the elevator pitch doesn’t promote authenticity, it favors utility.

It’s not you it’s me…Relationships form in conversation, in connection, in actually relating.  The elevator pitch doesn’t invite the person to share, to relate to you or to impart their own passion points. In the elevator pitch, it’s a one-sided exchange that puts the decision maker at choice without the benefit of feeling connected to or invested in, your idea.  Creating a sense of relationship between you and your audience creates a natural exchange of ideas, a genuine sense of interest and mutual respect, it moves the conversation from monologue to dialogueand leaves behind more opportunity to grow something significant.

So, what can we create differently? What is a way of thinking or more specifically a way of being that might re invite the elevator pitch in a way that might create something useful? What is there to reimage?

Trade the elevator pitch for a Key Hole Conversation.

If we borrow the imagery of what was useful about the elevator pitch: its brevity, its sense of purpose, its posture and its clarity of mission- the utility of the elevator pitch is compelling for a reason. What if we lean into what’s great about that but shift the imagery slightly to offer us more? What if we create a sense of invitation to the listener. Leaving the expectation of a “close” behind but rather inciting relationship and compelling the listener to accept an invitation to learn more from an organic place. To essentially shift the conversation from “here is everything you need to know in thirty seconds” to “here is a peek at what is interesting and inspiring inside this idea” putting the decision maker at choice – do they want to know more?

The Key Hole Conversation is about putting the decision maker at choice, not just to buy or not buy but at choice between relating and exploring or not; and from relationship and exploration much more is possible.

What are the components of a Key Hole Conversation?

Contact us and let’s talk about creating one together!

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