The Elevator Pitch: How to Master Your Own (+ 7 Real Elevator Pitch Examples to Learn From)
Think back to a time when a salesperson cold-approached you, and you actually kept talking to them (or even bought something). Did they stumble or seem unsure of themselves?
I doubt it. They most likely recited a short speech they’d practiced hundreds of times—their elevator pitch.
Somehow, they piqued your interest, either by demonstrating value or speaking to a pain point that mattered to you. That’s no coincidence. Without a doubt, they’ve refined that short speech to be so effective that you took the time to listen.
Whether you’re in sales, looking for a new job, or trying to get people interested in your latest business venture, refining your elevator pitch can literally change your life.
In this guide, we’ll teach you what to include in your elevator pitch, how to master the delivery of that short elevator speech, and break down real-life examples of successful elevator pitches you can borrow from.
What is an Elevator Pitch?
An elevator pitch is a short speech that concisely describes an idea that you’re selling. The idea could be a product or service, an investment opportunity, or your own skill set. It should clearly explain your value proposition in 30 seconds, which is about the time you’d have on an elevator ride.
Elevator pitches need to accomplish three fundamental things:
- Point out a need
- Show how you can uniquely solve it
- Provide a tangible next step
Here’s a basic example of an elevator pitch you could use if you were selling dent repair to people who have dents in their cars at gas stations (this has been used on me before):
When Would You Use an Elevator Speech?
Elevator pitches (sometimes called elevator speeches) can work for many situations, and they’ll change based on who you’re talking to and what you’re selling them. You might have multiple elevator pitches for different aspects of your life or job. You can even have an elevator pitch to get your kids to eat their vegetables (although your success rate might be lower than normal).
Here, we’ll focus on three situations that most people design elevator pitches for:
- When you’re a sales professional selling products or services: Whether cold calling, emailing, talking to prospects at trade shows, or being introduced to new referrals, first impressions are key for sales pros. A great elevator pitch is adaptable to different buyer personas, so you can pitch your product in a compelling way, no matter who you’re talking to.
- When pitching your business or startup idea to investors: It’s not easy to get financing for a small business or startup. The first time you’re standing in front of potential investors, you need to prove there is a real market need, and that your product or service can uniquely solve that problem. A succinct 30-second pitch can also sell your business to prospective customers or job candidates you want to hire.
- When you’re in a job interview: There aren’t many questions more unnerving than, “Tell me about yourself.” Being prepared with an elevator pitch that distills your work experience and the value you can bring to the company can make all the difference. The best elevator pitch for a job seeker can be used with recruiters, hiring managers, at career fairs, or even as your LinkedIn summary.
What to Say in a Good Elevator Pitch: 4 Essential Elements
To create the perfect elevator pitch for any situation, you’ll need to iron out each of the four elements below.
People need to know two things: Who are you? And why should I care?
Remember, this isn’t all about you—if possible, try to include the problem you solve right in your introduction.
In a sales call, you might introduce yourself with something like this: “Hi, I’m Tom Callahan, I represent Callahan Auto, the most reliable brake pad manufacturer in the midwest.”
By throwing in a simple one-liner that demonstrates value, Tommy Boy here has upped his introduction game to the next level. Not only does he say who he is, but why they should care.
If you’re going into a job search and want to add value to your intro, you could use some compelling past results, “Hi, I’m Tom Callahan, best known for saving my family’s auto parts company from bankruptcy.”
Here, Tommy Boy doesn’t just introduce himself but lets the recruiter/hiring manager know why he’s valuable.
2. Mission Statement
An effective elevator pitch requires not just memorizing your mission statement, but feeling it. An effective pitch can convey that feeling to others. For example, one of our mission statements at Close is “Never again should a startup fail because they couldn’t figure out sales.” If you worked for our sales team, you would integrate this into your pitch. Potential customers would know that your goal isn’t just to sell them something, but to help their business succeed.
If you were pitching yourself for a job interview, you’d want to have a mission statement that clearly states the impact you want to make. For example, your mission statement could be “I want to use my connections and skills to help this company IPO” or “I want to help this company grow because the product and the culture inspire me.”
3. Unique Selling Point
Now, it’s time to sell your solution. Your elevator pitch should explain why you or your company can not only solve a problem but also why you are uniquely qualified to do so. This is why it’s called a ‘unique’ selling point.
If you’re a sales rep, think about the competitive advantages you have. What’s something you offer that your competitors can’t touch?
For example, if you’re selling Coca-Cola to a convenience store chain and are competing with products like Pepsi and RC Cola (remember that?), you could say, “Coca-Cola is the original cola; it’s the flavor that people expect. Without it in your fountain, customers will be left settling for a knock-off.” The uniqueness here is the originality and dominance of Coke over the competition. It conveys satisfying customer demand in a way that the competition can’t.
Whether you’re at a job fair, trying to get investors for your startup, or selling products and services, always remember to sell in a way that makes you unique. This could be your experience, the results you’ve produced in the past, or what drives you to make a positive change.
4. Call to Action
Now that you’re nearing the end of your 30 seconds, it’s time to wrap things up with a tangible next step, i.e., a call to action.
This will again vary based on the situation. If you’re pitching yourself to a recruiter for a job, the call to action could be to ask for a formal interview. If you’re selling a product, it could be to offer a more in-depth product demo.
Don’t ask for too much. Give them a bite-size call to action that’s easy to commit to. A 30-minute product demo, 15-minute needs assessment call, or 20-minute investor presentation are all reasonable call-to-actions that should follow a 30-second pitch.
If you’re doing an in-person pitch, don’t forget to leave a business card so they have something to remember you by and your contact information.
Our Quick, Simple, and Direct Elevator Pitch Template
Now that we have the four elements nailed down, here’s a simple template you can use to put your pitch together. Note that this is a sales pitch template, but can be easily adjusted for other situations.
This is truly just a base template for you to start with and get ideas flowing. Feel free to add a compelling stat or fact, a story element, or a leading question that piques interest in your offering.
The more creative, the more you’ll stand out.
How to Craft and Execute Your Elevator Pitch: 6 Tips for Success
Knowing what to put in your elevator pitch is just the start. Now, here are six tips to keep your audience’s attention and get them excited about what you’re offering.
1. Have a Conversation Starter Ready to Go
Having a relevant and noteworthy discussion topic in your back pocket can help make your pitch more compelling. Use something that piques their interest, such as a stat or fact that impacts their business. This compelling opener should naturally transition into your elevator pitch.
2. Focus on One Clear Benefit
You don’t have the time to rattle off all the benefits you provide in 30 seconds. Instead, go all in on the strongest benefit you provide. For us here at Close, it’s helping our customers master the sales process. If you aren’t sure what this is, talk to your customers or look at your product’s online reviews.
3. Use Numbers to Make It Real
In business, numbers are everything. Use a compelling number in your pitch that calls out an important pain point. For example: “80 percent of small businesses that don’t streamline their sales process fail within five years.” (I have no idea if that’s true, but you get the idea.)
4. Take a Breath and Speak Slowly
Speaking slowly and from your diaphragm rather than your throat conveys confidence. If you speak too quickly and from too high up in your throat, you sound either unsure of yourself or desperate. By calming yourself with a deep breath and speaking confidently, you put your best voice forward.
Also, speaking slowly can help improve your overall body language, making you seem like a calm and trustworthy person rather than a shaky mess.
5. Avoid Useless Jargon
The last thing you want is to stop your pitch and explain some obscure industry jargon (there go your 30 seconds). Worse, you don’t want to isolate your audience by speaking in a language they don’t understand. Don’t use jargon unless you’re 100 percent confident that they’ll understand it and that your pitch will be better for it. Otherwise, avoid it.
6. Practice until You Can Recite This Elevator Pitch in Your Sleep
You should literally be ready to give your elevator pitch to an important person in an elevator, just like the cliche. Practice and practice until you can recite your pitch hanging upside down with your eyes closed while monkeys throw rotten bananas at you.
When I was in software sales, I recited my pitch so many times I could think about other stuff while saying it, kind of like when you read a page of your book but don’t remember it because you were thinking about something else. I’m not saying think of other stuff while reciting your pitch, but that is the level you should aim for.
7 Elevator Pitch Examples From Real Humans You Can Learn From
To give you real-life examples of effective elevator pitches, I surveyed a group of small business owners and entrepreneurs, and the results were fantastic. Below, I’ll break down why these pitches work so you can take away some pointers to use on your own.
Robert Kaskel, Chief People Officer, Checkr
Robert is an HR veteran for a prominent background check company with a ton of experience and notable clients. This is a pitch he could use at professional networking events or when talking to prospective new clients.
Why this works:
- Robert’s introduction doesn’t just mention his title but also touts noteworthy clients. This lets you know his company is legit.
- After the introduction, a pain point is introduced. This identifies a problem that the prospect may have. If they have this issue, they’ll keep listening.
- His pitch demonstrates why his company is unique (built-in fairness/more human) and the impact it makes (vastly more efficient).
Gillian Dewar, Chief Financial Officer, Crediful
Gillian’s pitch is for a personal finance site offering objective advice to help consumers pay down debt, learn to invest, and achieve their most important life goals.
Why this works:
- Gillian leads with a strong stat that her audience can relate to—it’s a great and empathetic conversation starter for someone struggling with their finances.
- She differentiates her company from others by pointing out their mistakes, then makes her company unique and valuable by offering simplicity and trust.
- It ends with giving her prospect hope for a better future, which is what they need most in their financial life.
Marshal Davis, President, Ascendly Marketing
Marshal is the President of a digital marketing agency with over a decade of experience running and managing small to medium-sized enterprises.
Why this works:
- When introducing the company, Marshal delivers a strong value statement and clear benefits, which would get his ideal customers to listen.
- He calls out ‘vanity metrics,’ i.e., meaningless data points that don’t deliver ROI, which is something many companies can relate to.
- He provides a valuable free offer and mentions that he wants to ‘prove our worth,’ which humbles his company and shows that he is willing to earn their trust.
- The ending reiterates the pain point that too many companies face and then demonstrates how he will solve that.
Emma Zerner, Co-Founder & Content Strategist, Icecartel
Emma is the Co-founder and Content Strategist for a prominent e-commerce website specializing in jewelry. She has mastered the art of crafting compelling narratives for her brand.
Why this works:
- As a whole, this pitch speaks very well to a specific persona that wants elegant, timeless jewelry.
- It provides a strong mission statement, “We bring artistry and craftsmanship to the digital realm.” In the two sentences of the intro and the mission statement, you can identify what this company is all about.
- Their unique selling proposition is catering to people who want to invest in an experience and view jewelry differently. In truth, not everyone fits their buyer persona, but for those who do, this hits home.
Simon Hughes, Founder & Creative Director, Design & Build Co.
Simon’s agency helps eCommerce brands in the fashion, luxury, and beauty sectors enhance their online visibility through social media.
Note that this is the elevator pitch that Simon uses for prospective clients at networking events.
Why this works:
- He starts with a great conversation starter that may take people aback for a second, and then they realize he’s talking about their brand. Nice!
- He identifies a problem that his ideal customers may not have solved yet, which is moving beyond advertising to creating a brand identity that identifies with real people.
- He shows how his company uniquely solves the problem by making clear promises and delivering on them. He also mentions building trust, which his customers need.
- It finishes with a clear and easy call to action. It doesn’t take a whole lot for prospects to say yes.
Brian Nagele, CEO, Restaurant Clicks
Brian is a former restauranteur who went on to start Restaurant Clicks, an agency that does digital marketing for the food industry.
Why this works:
- He leads with a strong conversation starter and pain point. Many restaurant owners will be able to relate to this.
- Brian points out why his agency is unique compared to those other ones who have ‘never laid their hands on a chef’s knife.’ He is someone they can relate to and trust.
- He finishes by providing value by sharing his expertise and growing his prospect's business.
Samantha Odo, a Real Estate Representative for Precondo
Samantha showcases her dedication and expertise when pitching potential clients for her Canadian real estate agent business.
Why this works:
- The intro shows that she’s a local and an expert, both of which convey trust to potentially nervous buyers.
- Her uniqueness comes from her abundant knowledge and experience, plus her proven track record. Getting real estate clients is all about trust and she continues to build it here.
- In the end, she states the outcome she will provide (an informed decision) and invites the prospect to achieve their goals with her—an inspirational and non-pushy call to action.
Our Elevator Pitch to You (I Mean, We Couldn’t Not)
Whether you’re a salesperson, small business owner, or startup founder, you’re going to be delivering a ton of elevator pitches. How you manage, record, and follow up on those pitches is equally important to how you deliver them. If you don’t have a system for tracking your efforts, they are doomed to fail.
Close is the perfect customer relationship management tool (CRM) for sales teams, small businesses, and startups to track all the information on who they’re delivering elevator pitches to, the opportunity those pitches create, and when you need to follow up. It’s built to help businesses like yours master the game of sales.
Learn more about how Close can be the fast, modern, and simple CRM that your business needs.