Grow Your Business

Elevator pitches are overrated

As a senior marketing manager at HubSpot, I talk to business owners all the time, and I constantly hear the same excuses for why they can’t sell:

  • “I’m not persuasive enough”
  • “I hate asking people for money”
  • “I don’t have a good pitch”
  • “There’s no one to sell to”

Sound familiar? I bet it does. However, here’s what I really hear when people tell me these things:


GL_Value
When you don’t understand the value of your product or service, how can you convince someone else to pay for it? All of the 30-second elevator pitches in the world won’t matter if you can’t grasp the “why” behind what you’re doing.

So how do you stop complaining and construct a pitch people actually care about?

You stop pitching and start asking.

Let me walk you through how this can work for you.

Step 1: Remember your “why”

You didn’t start a business to offer people an average product or service that excites no one.

Take some time to think about WHY you took the risk to go out on your own and what value you are offering to your customers. After all, if you don’t know why someone would buy from you, your customers aren’t going to figure it out for themselves.

Grab a pen and paper and complete this short exercise to get started.


GL Who
So now you have reconnected with the big picture reasons you’re going it alone. But, it’s also important to note that everyone you speak to is going to have their own unique challenges.  How people perceive the value of your product can vary greatly from one person to the next. So how do you overcome that?

Step 2: Ask first, frame later

The sales team at HubSpot aims never to “pitch” in the traditional sense. That doesn’t mean we avoid selling — far from it. What we don’t have is a contextless elevator pitch. Instead our pitches are made custom for the needs of each person. That’s why every sales conversation starts with open-ended questions that help us identify how we can offer the most value.

From there, we can begin to uncover opportunities to help this person and position our offering accordingly. The best way to sell isn’t to list features and benefits. Instead, start with a strong initial conversation, one where you aim to listen intently first. The correct way to frame your business will come from their answers.

We ask things like:

  • “How are things going right now?”
  • “What are some of your biggest challenges?”
  • “What are your goals for this year?”
  • “Where would you like to see things improve?”

Once you’ve uncovered the value to this particular buyer, you need to seal the deal. How do you do that?

Step 3: Turn the answers into pitches that work

Your sales pitch should always consist of two distinct halves: the before and the after.

This is easy to do if you’ve done a good job at step one (know the value of your offering) and step two (know the challenges your prospect is facing) above. Your next step is to show them what life would be like after they’ve purchased your product or service. Describe to them in their own words how their current pain will be resolved and how they’ll be better equipped to achieve their goals with your offering.

This is a powerful way to alleviate their objections to buying.

For this example, let’s imagine I’m a HubSpot sales rep pitching our CRM for small businesses.

Salesperson: How are things going right now?

Prospect: Things are OK but I’m working long hours and I don’t seem to be getting where I want to be. It’s exhausting!

Salesperson: What are some of your biggest challenges?

Prospect: Time! I just don’t have time to do all the things I need to do and I can’t afford to hire someone right now.

Salesperson: What are your goals for this year?

Prospect: I would love to be able to hire someone to lighten my load so I can focus on growing the business.

Salesperson: Where would you like to see things improve?

Process. I haven’t had time to put any systems or process in place. Everything’s a mess and in this state, I’ll never be able to sell it.

From that conversation, I can see some really clear nuggets that I can pick out and use to help this person. Here’s how I would paint the before and after for this person if they decide to go with my particular product, HubSpot CRM.

Their answer from above: Working long hours, feeling exhausted.

My pitch: HubSpot CRM automates the administrative tasks that are likely taking up about 40% of your day. What could you do if you had 40% more time in your day? Spend more time relaxing with your family maybe?

Their answer: Time! I just don’t have time to do all the things I need to do and I can’t afford to hire someone right now.

My pitch: Our sales automation tools enable you to spend more time selling and generating revenue for the business rather than doing the admin.

Their answer: I would love to be able to hire someone to lighten my load so I can focus on growing the business.

My pitch: We’ve seen similar companies hire 5 people within 12 months after implementing HubSpot CRM. Would you like me to put you in touch with them?

Their answer: Process. I haven’t had time to put any systems or process in place. Everything’s a mess and in this state, I’ll never be able to sell the business.

My pitch: The CRM makes it easy to create process because all of your contacts, activities, and communication are in one place. It comes with a pre-defined built in sales process so you don’t need to spend time creating one.

We used the prospect’s answers to find our value proposition for this unique buyer. We didn’t come in with a generic one-size-fits-all pitch but instead we built a story that features them and has a happy ending. Once you’ve done that, all that’s left to do is clearly pave the path they need to take to make the story a reality.

With a clearer process, you’ll feel more confident having these conversations wherever you find yourself pitching and you will finally be confident that you can in fact sell and you can sell well.

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Great advice. I am looking for a new job and realized that this process can be adapted for job interviews. Thanks!

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