I used to roll my eyes at elevator pitches. They seemed to be the verbal equivalent of business cards. People toil over the design, the byline, and the embossed fonts and the result is that they get tossed into the garbage with everyone else’s beautiful cards. Similarly, folks will spend hours workshopping the perfect pitch, but I’ve never heard of a single sale occurring in an elevator.

Yesterday, I was running registration for our local Rotary Club with a product manager for a SaaS company. It was still quiet, before Rotarians had started to arrive, and we were talking shop. He asked, “What does your company do?”

I responded, “We do web development and web programming.”

He asked, “For any specific industries?”

“No, we have a pretty diverse client list.”

This line of questioning is common and you’ve likely heard it or directed it at others.

The subtext is:

Who are you and where do you fit in my world?

If you build your business selling wholesale, through foot traffic, carefully crafted pay-per-click funnels, or a hundred other channels, then your elevator pitch doesn’t matter much more than as a thought exercise.

But if you’re building business through referrals or word of mouth, it’s essentially your offer.

No one is going to purchase in an elevator, but if your elevator pitch is smartly crafted, it will infect the people you speak with like a virus looking for the next host. It’s your opportunity to answer a basic question of identity in a way that has the potential to lead to sales… if you take advantage of it.

Featured image is of Archimedes by Domenico-Fetti (1620). Of the many accomplishments to his credit is the invention of the elevator for the Roman architect Vitruvius. Used under public domain.