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What is an Elevator Speech?

An elevator speech, sometimes also called an elevator pitch, is a brief introductory speech you make in response to the question, “What do you do?”. Elevator speeches can also be used in other circumstances. For example, with a little tweaking, you may be able to use one as your cold call opening statement.

Elevator speeches became popular during the ‘internet bubble.’ Hundreds or even thousands of small tech start-ups were competing for venture capital, and each had a very limited time during which they could get a potential investor’s attention. So they came up with mini sales pitches that were designed to last as long as it took to ride in the elevator to reach the destination floor.

The most important goal of any elevator speech is to pique the listener’s interest, which is why they often work well for cold calling. Ideally, your elevator speech should draw the response, “Really? Tell me more.” A good elevator speech is no more than 30 seconds long, which is usually enough time for about 25-35 words.

A generic elevator speech for a salesperson usually includes his name, his company name, the type of product he sells, and a benefit phrase or two to get the listener’s attention. Once you have a basic elevator speech written out and memorized, you can develop variants to fit different situations. For example, if you’re going to a job interview you’d want to modify it to showcase your own successes in the past, perhaps mentioning how you were the top salesperson on your team for the past three years or that you recently closed a 50 million dollar deal.

If you’re speaking with a prospect and know a little about them, you can use that information to tweak your introduction. For example, if you know that the prospect is worried about money, you could insert a benefit phrase explaining how your product can save him money.

About the author

My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.

As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.