The 30 second speech, also known as an “elevator speech” or “elevator pitch,” is a way to explain your value proposition to potential clients or customers by highlighting only the key points you want them to know.
Once you understand how to do it effectively, a 30 second speech will become second nature and your most efficient tool for helping potential clients quickly understand key aspects of your company and its products and services.
A 30 second elevator pitch is useful for many sales situations; but you can also use the advice here for job interviews, career fairs, and other networking events.
A 30 second speech can be helpful in any situation where you need to communicate key aspects of your business and personal value proposition quickly, especially if you are interacting with a new prospect.
The 30 second speech can be an effective way to inspire a potential client to take the next step in the sales process, whether it’s by requesting more information, engaging you in a discussion, or setting up a sales meeting.
So how do you write a good 30 second speech?
First, remember one key objective that underscores all 30 second speeches: grab the listener’s attention in as few words as possible.
Beyond this principle, the 30 second speech follows a set format: Intro—3-3—Summarize and Flip. And it never changes.
This part is simple: introduce yourself, your company and what you do. The key here is to be clear, succinct and interesting. You only have 30 seconds after all!
Next, you need to enter the middle phase of the speech, which is made up of the Second Element and the Third Element, also known as 3-3.
The Second Element here stands for three brief anchors about you and your company, or three memorable pieces of information that will anchor your product in your client’s mind.
After you create three brief anchors about you, you move to the Third Element. That is, you state three rhetorical questions that are likely to be of concern to the prospect in order to shift the discussion to them (because, quite frankly, it’s all about them). You want to choose questions that demonstrate your understand of their needs and that keep them interested enough to start (or continue) a discussion.
For example, you might say introduce the following questions by saying
“Many of the questions we get from sales VPs like yourself are:”
- “Is there a way to make salespeople more productive without having to take them out of the field?”
- “Can I really get the maybes out of my funnel that are causing me to spend resource where I shouldn’t?”
- “Is there really a way to get my forecasts to 90+ percent accuracy?”
Remember: you don’t answer these questions. They are only meant to engage with the prospect and to move them into the next stage with their interest piqued.
Summarize and Flip is the way you end the speech. You summarize the questions you have asked, and then you Flip: you get the prospect to start talking. A Flip is asking a question that the prospect must answer. You need to Flip at the end of 30-Second Speech so the prospect starts talking. Flipping is one of the top five characteristics of a top salesperson. Flipping is remembering to ask questions so the prospect gets involved and starts to talk. Flipping makes sure the prospect feels included, and that the salesperson begins to do the listening.
You will find that the time it takes to develop a strong 30 second speech will be paid back tenfold as you move forward with a client relationship. That’s because you can modify your 30 second speech at every future engagement with the prospect after you’ve taken them past the initial stage of the selling process.
While the content of the 30 second speech might change for any sales call or presentation that occurs after the first prospecting call, the format is essentially the same.
Here’s a chart explaining the different content you might focus on before and after the initial call:
|Parts of 30 Sec Speech||Initial Sales Call||All Future Sales Call|
|Second Element||About us||Last time we talked…|
|Third Element||About them||Your agenda/concerns/issues were…|
|Close||Summarize and Flip||If good meeting today, Next Step|
The Second, Third, and Close elements change to fit the circumstance of the meeting, which allows you to leverage your 30 second speech and make the most out of every sales call, no matter where it falls in the Buy/Sell process.
The Second Element of the 30 second speech can be modified for any follow up calls you have with a prospect after the initial conversation.
The best way to adapt this section of the speech is to change your list of anchor statements about your company into a restatement of the prospect’s goals. I.e. “Last time we met, you said you want to:
- Increase production by 10 percent,
- Lower costs by 5 percent, and
- Get the new product out the days 30 days faster.”
At this point, the prospect is saying to themselves, “That’s exactly what I said. These folks were taking good notes. They heard me.”
Rather than listing questions and concerns that you know the prospect has, the Third Element of the 30 second speech becomes a summary of why you are in the current meeting . You say, “So today, we are going to:
- Cover the pricing options for you to consider,
- Discuss that one point you brought up last time. I think we have some good answers for you there, and
- Talk about availability delivery windows.
Then you validate with a question, “Is that right? Are you OK with this agenda?”
Once you have validated the agenda, instead of going right to the things you have put together for this meeting, you need to get a commitment from the prospect that we are all thinking about continuing the Buy/Sell process together. You do this by closing the 30 second speech with a conditional question:
“Great, so let’s get started with today’s meeting. But before we do, I want to make sure that if we are in agreement today, and all goes well, then a good next step would be for us to validate what we know so far, and we can do that with a demonstration of the product by next Wednesday. Is that Ok with you folks?”
Note in the example above that the salesperson says “next Wednesday.” This was not a random act. It’s vital to mention a definite time as you introduce the Next Step.
You want to do this so you can be proactively in control of this entire call. Without you offering the next step and getting agreement it on it before the meeting starts, you’ll start the meeting, give everything you have to the prospect, including control . . . they have what they need. Asking them for a next step at the end of the meeting, with the prospect in control, gives the prospect the ability to say, “We’ll get back to you.”
By asking for the next step before the meeting starts, you are in control. If the prospect objects to the next step (“No that’s not really what we had in mind, but let’s get to the meeting today, okay?”), you have a battle for control on your hands. It’s at this point where you get that control back.
“Sure, but it seems like a logical next step if this meeting goes well. What were your thoughts on a next step?”
Which gives you the chance at discussing their objections before you give all your hard work away, and you are left with nothing. Too much objecting at this point by the prospect may signal a disqualification issue.
It is necessary to eliminate any unnecessary words and be confident when delivering this sales pitch.
Add a Value Proposition to your Elevator Pitch
A 30 second speech during a sales call often takes somewhat longer than 30 seconds (anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes), because you are inputting customer goals and objectives and trying to gain agreement on a next step before the meeting starts. It’s called a 30 second speech nonetheless, because it follows that format so directly.
Most 30 second speeches come across very well, regardless of how salespeople believe that they delivered it. Additionally, most top salespeople are doing something close to a 30 second speech already, but not as powerful and easy to leverage.
Keep this in mind as you begin to consciously incorporate the 30 second speech into future sales engagements.
The beginning of a sales presentation is all about setting the agenda and controlling the content and tempo of the meeting. A 30 second speech opening, followed by a discussion of the Agenda/Concerns/Issues outlined in 30 second speech, is the most powerful way to begin a sales call or presentation, either in person or over the phone. A follow-up can last a few minutes or up to half of the entire meeting, but the 30 second speech is a professional way to set the agenda and control the interaction from start to finish.
With practice, it is possible to become more proficient and comfortable with the 30 second speech—whether you are using the speech in a sales engagement, a job interview, or networking event.
About the author
Skip Miller is President of M3 Learning, a ProActive Sales Management and Sales Training Company based in the heart of Silicon Valley.