We’ve all experienced small talk while riding an elevator. In an elevator, you’re focused on your destination. Should someone start an awkward conversation, the tiny box that you’re suddenly in seems smaller, and the door to freedom cannot open fast enough.

The same can be said during an initial sales encounter. Some customers have that same awkward feeling when they hear a sales pitch.

The elevator pitch is still present in most sales training today. In fact, I’ve been part of training programs where an elevator pitch is role played and rehearsed in order to “graduate.”

The elevator pitch focuses on WHAT you do instead of the WHY you do it.

So what is an elevator pitch?

el·e·va·tor pitch: a succinct and persuasive sales pitch.

Elevator Pitch Going Down

First of all as a sales leader, I have never liked the word “pitch.” And second, I’ve always struggled with the concept of memorizing scripts—and role playing until it’s perfect. On the other hand, I do believe there are formulas to follow for success. The key is to teach these formulas without changing the person’s personality.

So here’s the problem with the elevator pitch: The elevator pitch focuses on WHAT you do instead of the WHY you do it. It’s time for companies to ditch the WHAT and explain the WHY. One reason to change is how the market is impacting sales teams. Consider these 3 market trends:

  1. Sales cycles require more contact to get meetings even with your better clients.
  2. Today’s customers are less loyal in the past.
  3. Clients have a decreasing willingness to try new products and services early in the product’s life cycle.

Elevator Pitch Going DownWhy explains purpose. Why defines who you are and your beliefs. WHY inspires.

Simon Sinek explains this perfectly:

  • “Everyone knows WHAT they do.”
  • “Some know HOW to do it.”
  • “Few people know WHY they do it.”

Most elevator pitches start with WHAT and end with HOW. Right now, think of your elevator pitch. Does it start with WHAT and end with HOW? Try starting with WHY, then HOW, then WHAT. People buy WHY not WHAT.

So, ditch your elevator pitch. Start with WHY. What’s your WHY?


Greg Hahn

Greg Hahn is known for entrepreneurial vision and translating vision into revenue generation and productivity, thriving in a diverse and fast-paced executive environment. Throughout his sales management career, he has led several sales teams toward positive growth. His most recent accomplishment was with The Blue Book Network. In just two years, he was able to reverse an under performing region to one of the top regions in the company in 2015. Greg specializes in online marketing including website consulting, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and social media marketing.

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