7 Devastating Elevator Pitch Mistakes

by / ⠀Funding Startup Advice / January 10, 2012

When you pitch your company, product, or service are you met with blank stares?  Does your audience politely smile, nod, and then walk away?  Maybe it is time to take a closer look at your pitch and make sure that you are not making one of the following deadly mistakes.

1.  Using Industry Jargon

One of the worst pitch mistakes you can make is using industry jargon.  Don’t assume that your audience has the same industry knowledge that you do.  You might think that using big words makes you seem knowledgeable, when in fact it is a major turn off, and makes your potential customer feel inferior.

2.  Generic Pitch Templates

Different situations call for drastically different variations of your pitch.  A pitch to a potential investor should have a different focus than a pitch to a potential customer.  Your pitch at a industry networking event should be different than your pitch at dinner party.  There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all elevator pitch.

3.  Stiff, Practiced Delivery

Your elevator pitch should have a conversational, natural tone.  The next time someone asks, “So, what do you do?” you don’t want to launch into a two minute, monotone speech that sounds like you practiced it in front of the bathroom mirror for the last two hours.  The best way to practice is simply to pitch to more people, not to memorize a speech word for word.

4.  No Use Case

Many times the easiest and most memorable way to pitch your product or service is to provide a use case, a story of a customer using the product or service.  Explain the customer’s problem, and how your company provides a solution to that problem.  An example customer helps bring your pitch to life for your audience.

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5.  Too Pushy

An elevator pitch is a 30 to 90 second introduction.  Your goal should not be to close the deal with an elevator pitch, rather open the door for a future deal.  A surefire way to doom your pitch is to come off as pushy, so focus on building a long term relationship.

6.  No Next Step

Pitch with purpose.  Your pitch should end with a next step in mind.  You might ask for a business card, schedule a time for coffee, or ask for permission to follow up via email.  If your pitch ends with no next step you might as well never pitch in the first place.

7.  Fail to Leave Time for a Response

Let’s say you are actually on an elevator with a potential investor, you deliver an incredibly compelling pitch, and you are just about to make your final point when the investor reaches his floor.  He says, “That is interesting, but I really need to leave now.”  The entire pitch was worthless because you did not leave time for a response from the investor.  What if he had one or two questions that would have determined whether or not he was interested in investing?

The future success of your business depends on how well you take advantage of the opportunities you have to pitch potential investors and customers, don’t even consider making any of these 7 deadly pitch mistakes.

About the Author:  Adam Hoeksema is the Founder of ExecutivePlan.  ExecutivePlan helps entrepreneurs write more powerful business plan executive summaries in order to raise capital.  Adam is also the author of Elevator Pitch Toolkit: Templates, Examples, and Tips for the Perfect Pitch

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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