The elevator pitch, otherwise known as your ability to tell someone what you do for a living in 15-20 seconds without leaving out any critical details.
Wikipedia calls it this; “An elevator pitch, elevator speech, or elevator statement is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization or event and its value proposition.”
The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride of around 30 seconds.
The term originates from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator where after the brief pitch, the other party is interested in learning more. thus continuing the conversation after the elevator ride or through en exchange of a business card or smart phone details.
As a tax consultant, I thought I had the perfect elevator pitch that went something like this; “I help people who have problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). I worked in the CRA for over 10-years – pretty much out of university – and worked my way up through the collections division until leaving for the private sector.”
I found it to be too long, and open for interruption so much that I would add details, such as that I completed 3-years of my accounting (CGA) designation and a 3-year MBA before leaving, or that I spent a significant part of my time at the CRA training the staff, handling the most complex accounts in the office and helping improve processes.
Then it became an elevator pitch for a 65-story building ride… To the top and all the way back down to the bottom.
Then I found an article in Forbes magazine which provided 6 alternatives to the elevator pitch so I tried them out to see if they worked better for me. The list is below:
1. The One-word pitch – for me, it is “TAX”. Then I watch their eyes gloss over.
2. The Question pitch – “Have you ever had (or have clients who had) problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (or Revenu Quebec, or the IRS, or WSIB, or the CRTC?)
3. The Rhyming pitch – Could not even try this.
4. The Subject line pitch – like sending an email to someone – mine would read something like “Former CRA collections officer helping people with CRA problems.”
5. The Story form pitch – I have thousands of stories… Literally. I usually break into one of these after my introduction.
6. The Twitter or 140 character or less pitch #WhatIAmAllAbout. I like this because it’s like using Twitter except that you really cannot tell someone that you “hashtag” Help People. But it does give you the opportunity to state your case in a brief number of words.
So practice your pitch – no matter which method you choose – and practice them out on people to see if it gets across the message you want it to. If not, maybe you would benefit from a different pitch or by adding or removing information to your existing pitch.
As for me… “I’m a former CRA officer who knows the CRA collections process, policy and procedures better than they do. I help people with a variety of tax issues including but not limited to negotiation, payment arrangements, liens, RTP’s assessments, and getting them current and out of debt. If there is a CRA issue, I have already seen it, and I know how to fix the problem.”
Others make promises. I fix problems.
If the conversation continues I explain my services are for individuals, businesses, and professional organizations who cannot proceed further with a client due to their tax issues – ie/ getting a bank loan, renewing a mortgage, confirmation of actual amounts owing before filing for bankruptcy, wage garnishments on employees, or cleaning up past tax issues for separation agreements or divorce.