An Elevator Pitch Can Kill You from the Top Floor Down

In this post with Pat Weber* Business Sales Coach for Introverts and Shy, Pat answers more of my questions about what makes for a good and bad elevator pitch.  Collaborating with Pat on this project has been a dream — and to quote Humphrey Bogart’s famous last line from Casablanca, “… I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”  For my take on elevator speeches follow this link to where Pat interviewed me. To learn more about how Pat and I began our collaboration on LinkedIn, tune in to our discussion on Free Webinar Wednesdays: “Success Stories From the Trenches.”

"Patricia Weber"

Patricia Weber

Do some pitches warrant a full explanation?

[tweetmeme]It’s annoying when people say, “Because what I do is somewhat complicated, … ” and then they suggest it’s best to have a one-to –one meeting.

Hey buster. If YOU can’t explain it for me to understand before I buy it, what’s going to happen if I need help after you have my money?

Should a person start with his/her name?

Starting with the very unattractive, “Hi, my name is Wendy,” makes me feel like I’m at an AA meeting – yes I have attended a couple of those and I mean that with all respect. Your name, unless it’s Bill Gates, Oprah or the like is relatively unimportant in an introduction intended to get people’s attention. Start with a question, startling statistic or one problem you solve. When we meet people in meetings or events, they both bring in their minds the events of the day as well as get distracted by the entire goings on around them. Break their preoccupied thoughts.

If these pitches they all sound the same, how can I be a referral partner?

A BNI networking group is intended to extend your marketing reach by making your chapter members aware of what you do or offer so that they can be part of your sales team. While a few might be prospective clients you don’t want to pitch them the same way. Does it really make sense to make the same pitch to both of these audiences? Like would you pitch your boyfriend the way your pitch your father? Come on. Have a prepared and refined introduction, which appeals to the specificity of the audience.

What do you think about using titles in a pitch?

Don’t tell me your fancy title! I could give a hoot. Tell me what problems you solve and for what group of people. Really, which peaks your interest more, “I help people do a better job with saving and spending their money,” or, “I’m a financial planner.” What about, “I help employers hire better employees faster,” or “I’m in job placement.” I don’t know; maybe it’s just me. I want that elevator to stay in motion.


*Leading and inspiring introverts in business with coaching, training and eBooks, to live genuinely for the most success and fun. Business Coach for Introverts and Shy, Patricia Weber.

Leave a Reply


  1. I follow and comment on both of your blogs so your collaborating is great. I really like the fact that you met through LinkedIn blogging groups. Pat is right on in what she says. Tell me what I need to know. That initial contact is so important as the saying “first impressions are lasting impressions.”


  2. Jeannette, you are great! You don’t pull any punches and say it like it is – I love that. I totally agree with you about starting one’s pitch with their name being a little blah. In my case, if that is how someone initially greets me they have already lost me. There is something about me and names – i can never remember them!

    Your description of networking in BNI groups is such a good example of knowing your audience before delivering your message.

    Heading over to Pat’s blog now and congrats on your partnership 🙂

  3. Hello again. I just took the egg off my face and realized that Pat wrote this post – hello! Sorry ladies – no excuse except lack of sleep :). You are both great! 🙂

  4. Julie — no problem. Pat and I discussed the topics for our blogs and are in agreement with each other’s points of view. So, we’ll both accept your compliment!

  5. Jeannette and Pat. You two are doing great posts and collaboration.

    I really like the advice about if all pitches are the same. You are so right about tailoring your communication to the audience. Even if you are going to a workshop or seminar you can get a pretty good idea of who will be attending and then tailor it accordingly.

    Great article

  6. So true about elevator speeches and I’m just as guilty as the next person who stumbles to say what we do. Thanks for the tips.

    By the way, your webinar, “Success Stories From the Trenches,” was very informative. Good information.

  7. Part of what nags at me is the tendency some seem to have of forgetting that they are communicating. They will launch into their pitch, oblivious to your response. They ignore the folded arms, the bored apearance, the annoyed looks, and just keep right on going.

    You’re interacting with someone, not just trying to push something. It’s why the advice here about refining and tailoring to different people is so spot on.

  8. Not starting my elevator speech with my name is going to be a hard habit to break Jeannette but it makes sense not to. I’ll have to work on that. When I was in BNI, none of us started our 30-second with our name. What do you think about using your BNI 30-second as your elevator speech. Although, would it make sense to end it with “who do you know…”?

  9. Thanks, again, for all the great comments. Sherryl, I would not end my elevator speech, or, my preferred term “brand statement,” with a request for a referral. The person you’ve just met doesn’t know enough about you — there has to be a level of trust and confidence in what you’re offering. As I said in one of my interviews with Pat your pitch needs to be refined depending on your audience.

    Here’s what I said, “… tailor your brand statement to your audience. For example, if you are with your boss you can say, “I’ve been the leading sales producer for the past two years, bringing in $xxxxx. I’d like to discuss increasing my compensation to reflect my success in helping the division reach its profit goals.” You’re reinforcing your brand as the division’s sales leader.

    You wouldn’t go a client and use that brand statement to get more business. You would say something like, “I’m glad that our (name) solution is solving your problem with (name) divisions. I’d like to tell you about another service that will actually add to your profits.” You got to be the top sales producer by selling more to existing clients – but you don’t tell them that!”

  10. I’m not in BNI, and don’t attend many functions where people sort of stand up and pitch to the audience, but I do believe in having an elevator pitch as it creates the fundamental positioning in a marketing kit, strategy, and everything after that.

    The part about the name is interesting. I think if people are expecting a pitch (such as when you’re presenting something), then perhaps you should just go straight into it, but I know that I personally would be really turned off if someone walked up to me individually at a networking event and started with something other than their name.

    I’ve always been taught that you can use your elevator pitch in any situation, not just a presentation, and so, it makes sense that at a networking event, someone you’ve just met would start with their name and then if I asked, “What do you do?” at that time, they would explain it with the pitch. John Jantsch talks about this a bit in his Duct Tape Marketing book.

    Hopefully that makes sense! I could have been missing the point about the name thing.

  11. Julie, I think you have hit two somethings: starting your pitch with your name is just downright BLAH, and, people don’t remember names easily. Although 99% of us do (I even do it on occasion; when I’m lazy!) start with our names. It is a signal that kind of lulls the other person into a comatose state – and they end up half-listening.

    Sherryl, not using your name among a group you meet with weekly, and they already KNOW your name, is a good thing. As I responded to Julie, that first name is like a lullaby in some cases. Zzzz.

    LOL – Catarina! Bingo. Exactly.

    Tia, you want to have a different elevator pitch for different audiences. Jeannette and I agree on this. She says, tailor your brand statement to your audience. Why would you want to pitch your BNI group (members are supposed to be like your marketing team) the same way you would pitch your family (you just want them to KNOW what you do) the same way you would pitch a prospective client (they are listening for something entirely different) or the same way you would pitch a potential referral partner? I think all those different audiences would appreciate that you have a different way of communicating with them. Just for them. The think about the name – I just chimed in to both Julie and Sherryl about this in regards to their insights. The thing about using your name or not using your name, it is certainly up to you. It can be the number one sleep aid at networking events though. It’s a trigger for people and when you lead with it, oh oh!

    Happy Networking!

  12. I’ve been following all your recent posts now and I must tell that all of them are great and very informative. Thanks for sharing