You have a great idea, wither its for your business or a new start up, and you are dying to make a pitch of the idea to the “powers above”. You finally are in a lift with one of the people who can make your project work, BUT you don’t have the time nor permission for the full blown pitch. What do you do? Here’s where an elevator question come into play.
These are perfect for those times when you’ve met the perfect person to pitch your idea to, but don’t have time/permission to give them the full elevator pitch.
Develop your elevator question
Instead of an elevator pitch for your idea or venture, think what “elevator question” you could ask that would be so compelling your recipient would just HAVE TO ask to hear your full pitch?
Now the tables are turned, they’re asking you for time so they can listen to your idea. So how can I build this perfect question
Build your question(s) up in this way…
- Have you ever wondered why [an interesting problem statement] hasn’t been solved?
- Would you be interested to know how [it] could be solved?
- Great, would you like to meet the people who have solved it?
As you can tell this will lead you to being able to make an appointment if you’ve posed the right questions. In the process you’ve introduced the 4 key elements of any pitch that you will need to make at that follow on meeting: why, problem, how, who.
- Why = what’s your purpose
- Problem = key to establish the need / opportunity / potential
- How = explain your strategy to solve the problem uniquely well
- Who = who is on your team (that is passionate about your purpose, particularly advantaged to understand the problem, and how you have solved it uniquely well.)
This will all set you up for a perfect pitch.
If you still need more help, here are a few ideas for your opening elevator question:
- “Have you experienced x?” (where is a burning pain that your research has indicated will qualify their need)
- “I’m curious to know if you think x” (where “x” is an urgent, unsolved problem you believe they are facing) “and if you’ve heard of y?” (where “y” is an example of an approach to solving it.)
- “Have you ever thought what it would be like if … ?” (paint the “before and after” scenario of the pain point / solution you address that you know they’d understand from their vantage point)
- “I acknowledge your position on …” (verify you know what’s great about their current views acknowledging that there is good reason to see this way..), “yet wonder if you’ve ever seen the impact of …?”(“x” breakthrough that has had “y” impact in “z” other cases like theirs)
It’s a simple concept. And it’s applicable in many other ways in your startup, such as in sales or business development qualification.
So ask your Marketing, Sales and Business Development people what’s helping them get in front of potential new customers and then listen and adapt it for your Elevator Questions.
As usual, practice makes perfect so try it on everyone you can until finally people are requesting to hear more from you.