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How Do You Make Your Elevator Pitch Bullet Proof?

August 21st, 2012


Most times I explain my projects to ordinary techies, like these elevator passengers.


One sunny day the elevator doors ping open, and inside a stone cold fish like this veteran is waiting…

… and unless my elevator pitch is bullet proof, I will be shot down to Crash and Burn in the bottom of the elevator shaft. So how do I prepare before pitching to sligthly arrogant, well educated super smart technology people? Todays lessons will be drawn from two very different marketers and their very different books. One an independent consultant the other a former Google employee from the sweet early days.

Back to Our Hero. Me. I know confidence is Everything when I am pitching to a Big Fish Technology Veteran. If I do not believe in myself, the Shark will not believe in me and then he will never believe my elevator pitch. The better prepared I am, the more confident I will feel and thus I start preparing today. As should you. Here are som great tips about a confident elevator pitch. I read out loud from Beth Goldsteins book “Lucky By Design.”

Click this drawing to hear the Bookcasting Podcast about Douglas Edwards’ “I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59”

According to former Google marketing guy Douglas Edwards it was real hard to get Larry and Sergey to agree to his proposals at Google. Edwards did a serious job of getting to know their needs and understanding the kind of arguments they would listen to. Both Larry and Sergey have a strong belief in data. So Douglas prepared pitches flavoured with data and arguments containing data. I will do the same.

Back to me. My goal with the elevator pitch is to get the Old Barracuda thinking “I MUST hear more about this, let´s meet next week.” That is why I must make sure I am not saying too much. If I says too much in the wrong setting, the Shark will have enough information to say “no”. I know a chance meeting in the elevator is not the setting to propose my project. What I want is a meeting where the Fish expects me to make a proposal. And where he expects me to attempt to convince him. To try to “sell” the project in the elevator is rude and unprofessional.

Tips about the content of the elevator pitch

The Veteran Techie I meet in the elevator is the team leader of 16 developers. I know one of the needs the team leader has. I previously wrote the elevator pitch with this need in mind. The need is “to dramatically increase the listening skills of his employees when they interact with people outside of the development team.” The structure of the content of the elevator pitch is in three parts, in the shape of a fish hook:

  1. Bate
  2. Hook
  3. Line

1. The Bate is a tasty bite of sound to catch the attention of the Cat Fish by showing I have understood one specific aspect of the listening skill challenges in his department.
2. The Hook is a believable indication that I am able to significantly increase the listening skills of his employees. For example that I have done it before in another team the Cat Fish feels is comparable to his own team.
3. The Line is a proposed time and place to meet up for a proposal and a discussion.

Start writing point 2. The Hook. Maybe by describing your experience of helping the other department. Focus on the measurable results they got.

Todays tasks:

  1. Decide who is the top target of your elevator pitch. Who can make the decision you want to be made?
  2. Decide on your objective. What is it you want to happen?
  3. Write your elevator pitch. Remember the trick is to make the hook as small as possible. This way he will be impressed when your actual proposal is laid on the table in the future meeting. It must also be very very short. That is one reason why you must practice so thouroughly.
  4. Practice 20 times in front of the mirror. Make your tone and body language confident.
  5. Call somebody you know and practice on her. Or do it in person. Practice on somebody who scares you more than the shark, your mother in law for example.

Here is an example:

“Hey mr Hansen!” I say inserting my Birckenstock sandal in the closing elevator doors and getting inside the elevator. “I chatted with mr. Stone and mr. Wood on your team the other day and could not fail to notice their non listening body language signs.

You might have heard about how I helped the C-team with similar challenges last year? Do you have an hour wednesday in two weeks time? I will happily tell you about the results the C-guys gained in development productivity.

Book tip 1 of the Month

I got inspiration for this blogpost from Beth Goldsteins book  Lucky By Design. Beth Goldstein has empowered hundreds of entrepreneurs to successfully grow their companies. She is the Faculty Director for Boston University’s Online Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship Program (recognized by Fortune Small Business Magazine/CNN Money as one of the top 5 e-learning entrepreneurship programs in the U.S.). Click and buy the book now and I will get a dollar ;-)

Book tip 2 of the Month

How was it to work at Google in the very early days? For Edwards who was a marketing guy it was not just easy. Get his book:

I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59

Or listen to Tom Erik and Ola talk about how Douglas Edwards interacted with people like Marissa Mayer, Sergey Brinn and Larry Page here: Listen to The Bookcasting Podcast episode #7.

Next blogpost will be about how you find out what peoples special competence is. It is not yet written. If you want to share some of your own experiences, feel free to do it in the comments field below.

Last blogpost was about How You Remember What People Tell You when you are mingling?


Post a comment
  1. August 23rd, 2012

    Thanks for the copy of Beth’s book – really look forward to reading it and talking about it with you and Beth on Bookcasting!

    • olavea #
      August 23rd, 2012

      I am also looking forward til that conversation. Tell me when you have started the reading and you have some feedback.

      • August 24th, 2012

        Yes I will. I started Serena’s book last night, it’s promosing!

  2. Åshild #
    August 31st, 2012

    “Practice on somebody who scares you more than the shark.” I liked that one. But since my mother in law isn’t that scary, I have to find someone else :)

    • olavea #
      August 31st, 2012

      Thank you Åshild. I will look out for scary people you may practice your pitch on.

  3. September 26th, 2012

    Dette er SÅÅÅ inspirerende!

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