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Going Up? 5 Steps to Your Perfect Elevator Pitch. An elevator speech is a powerful tool that allows you to quickly spark interest in your business.

By Michelle Van Slyke

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


This article is included in Entrepreneur Voices on Elevator Pitches, a new book containing insights from both sides of the board room to help you craft the perfect pitch. Buy it online from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound

What if you had a potential investor or customer standing next to you and you had 30 seconds to sell your idea or business to them? What would you say?

As I work with small business owners at The UPS Store, I encourage them to always have their Elevator Pitch ready. I typically find one of two things -- small business owners either know their business or idea well enough to deliver a concise, compelling pitch or they miss the opportunity altogether.

According to a recent survey of 500 small business owners conducted by The UPS Store, more than half of the small business owners surveyed do not have an elevator pitch prepared for their small business. This short but mighty speech is a powerful tool, as it allows you to quickly and persuasively spark interest in your small business with strangers, friends, potential business partners and everyone in between, because you never know who you might encounter. If you were to rank the different ways of connecting with people, what's more powerful, a request on LinkedIn? A cold call or email? Having a face-to-face opportunity is priceless and you need to be ready to capitalize on it.

Related: 6 Tips for Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch

Of those small business owners with an elevator pitch prepared, 65 percent say it has been a valuable tool in selling their business, and 85 percent say it is a must-have communications tool for success.

Startups, entrepreneurs and small business owners can follow these simple tips to get their pitch elevator-ready.

1. Write something down.

The very first step in creating a great elevator pitch is getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Seeing the words on the page can help you identify gaps and redundancies. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you draft your pitch:

  • Am I explaining the benefits my business provides? People don't need to understand the intricacies of your offerings in the first 30 seconds, but they do need to understand how it could make their lives better and what's in it for them.
  • Am I inviting further conversation? Though the premise of this tool is built on the idea that these conversations might happen behind the sliding doors of an elevator, the reality is that you can use a good elevator pitch anywhere. At conferences and networking events, you don't want to be the one forcefully sliding doors shut with an awkward closing statement.

2. Create a value proposition.

When forming an elevator pitch, you should identify a problem or pain point your target customers face, then demonstrate how your business provides a unique solution. You want to clearly communicate your value proposition, by explaining how your product delivers specific benefits that differentiate you from the competition.

3. Ask for input.

More than half of the small business owners we surveyed with elevator pitches prepared have sought out feedback from others. And there's no reason not to get help when you're part of the small business community. Your peers can be your greatest resource for feedback and improvement.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Your Elevator Pitch Isn't Working

It's also critical here to go outside of your inner circle for feedback. The people who know you best may understand nuances that strangers don't.

4. Practice.

What looks short and sweet on paper can actually feel long when you finally rehearse it. Say your elevator pitch aloud and time it. Don't start negotiating with yourself on length either. It's easy to falsely convince yourself that the extra 15 seconds are worth the extra information.

Practicing your elevator pitch is a critical but often skipped step. This perfect elevator pitch you've crafted does no good on a sticky note on your desk or in your car. For it to do any good, you have to use it in real life. And to use it, you have to rehearse it enough on your own to feel comfortable with it.

5. Ask for the sale.

How do you wrap up your pitch? Ask for the sale. You should always be prepared with printed marketing materials, whether it be a business card, a brochure, flyer or product sample. Present them with a current, professional takeaway to leave a lasting impression and ask for their business card in return. You don't want to regret not asking later and you would be surprised how many people say "yes."

Related: 7 Essentials for an Elevator Pitch That Gets People to Listen

The UPS Store is helping small business owners around the country perfect their small business pitches with help from business mogul and entrepreneur, Marcus Lemonis. Check out Elevator Pitch, a Web series where small business owners pitch their ideas in an actual elevator for a chance to win $10,000 to grow their business. Your next elevator pitch moment could lead to the next big step for your business, so be rehearsed, refreshed and ready to deliver that perfect pitch.

Michelle Van Slyke

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales, The UPS Store

Michelle Van Slyke is the senior vice president of marketing and sales for The UPS Store, Inc., which provides print and small business solutions to entrepreneurs and small-business owners at 5,000 franchise locations across the U.S.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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