Why I don’t believe in the “Elevator Pitch”

The concept of the “elevator pitch” has become popular in recent years. An elevator pitch is what you would say if you were lucky enough to find yourself in an elevator for 30 seconds with the CEO of a prospective client company.

The biggest problem with an elevator pitch is that you may actually tell it to someone.

Why do I say this?

The Next 30 Seconds

I am much less interested in the 30 seconds you are in an elevator with a CEO than I am interested in the next 30 seconds, after you say goodbye in the building’s lobby. What happens during this subsequent 30 seconds? Is the CEO totally mesmerized by his encounter with you, unable to stop thinking about this incredible person he just met, or does he grab his cell phone and make a call, as the memory of you quickly fades away?

Monologue vs. Dialogue

If you want to create a memorable encounter with someone, don’t expect a 30-second monologue to do the trick, no matter how well it is crafted. You will have much better success if you focus, instead, on creating a 30-second dialogue.

The worst thing we all learned about marketing that it is mostly based on one-way communication … “getting the word out,” “telling your story,” “making your pitch,” “cutting through the clutter,” and, my personal (un)favorite, “capturing eyeballs.”

Humans don’t connect with monologues the way they connect with dialogues in which they are engaged. If you want to communicate with someone, don’t talk at them. Talk with them.

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Posted in Customer Encounters, We relationships
6 comments on “Why I don’t believe in the “Elevator Pitch”
  1. Dave Navarro says:

    Steve –

    That’s a great point. I just had a huge post about creating elevator pitches, but I’m going to have to follow it up with a link to this article.

    Do you have any tips on how to make it easier to create a dialogue-worthy exchange in those first 30 seconds?

    • Dave – Yes, I actually do have tips. This is one of the subjects in Chapter 2 of my new book, We. It’s covered, at a less involved level, in the free ebook I’m giving away here to blog or newsletter subscribers. If you don’t want to buy the book, hang on and I will be doing blog posts and newsletter articles over the upcoming months on this and related topics.

  2. Diana Lackner says:

    Salespeople need to listen to create a dialogue. It is annoying and unproductive when a salesperson starts pitching me with their pre-programmed pitch. I would much rather they took the time to figure out what my needs were and help me find a solution. I just had this experience as I called around to schedule an event. The woman at the facility did not ask me any questions about the event but instead went into a straigh monologue about their facility and compared it to hosting an event at a hotel(which is not even a consideration). I hung up the phone thinking she would not be able to create the event I wanted. I bet many salespeople have lost sales due to talking at the potential client rather than talking with them.

  3. Snip

    I totally agree with you on this. However the solution isn’t to NOT create a compelling 30-second intro. The solution is for us, as marketing professionals, to help change mindsets, to tell the brutal truth, and to put these people in the shoes of their potential clients.

    I believe entrepreneurs need to create some form of 30-second intro (I hate the words “pitch” and “speech”), especially new entrepreneurs who do lots of networking to grow their contacts.

    I wrote an ebook about this, with the aim of giving the straight scoop on creating an intro. The only way I know how to reverse the negative effects of “one-way communication” marketing education is to do it one person, one teleclass, one ebook, one blog post at a time. Eventually, people will start getting it and we’ll see a change for the better (note my optimism!).

    Thanks for putting the emphasis of marketing back where it should be — on listening, the relationship and creating a dialogue.

    I look forward to reading your book and seeing how you’re helping change the outdated marketing mindset to one built around relationships.

  4. This was the snip I was referring to in my comment:
    “If you want to create a memorable encounter with someone, don’t expect a 30-second monologue to do the trick, no matter how well it is crafted. You will have much better success if you focus, instead, on creating a 30-second dialogue.”

  5. Christina – Great thoughts. I’d love to read your ebook.

    Is this part of what you are saying? … Think about what you want to say in your intro, practice it one encounter at a time, and, over time, you will become so comfortable with it that it can evolve from presentation to fluid conversation?

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