So, What Does Your Company Do?

Mark Frasco - President

I guess we call it an elevator pitch because as a vertical travel-mate questions what you do; you should be able to recite it in the time it takes you to reach the floor of your penthouse suite. Ironically, I don’t think anyone has ever said more than two words to me on an elevator, but that’s not the point.

Over the years, I’ve struggled with the elevator pitch. How in the world could I possibly explain the complexities of a business or job that took years to build, in 30 seconds? (By the way, I’ve found that 30 seconds is often too long. Ten to fifteen seconds in, the polite inquisitor is wishing he hadn’t asked.)

Let’s retrace our steps. Explaining the complexities of our business is not the goal. Too often, this is our comfort zone. We slip comfortably into our organization or industry jargon. When we are done and silence ends our well-appointed description, our acquaintance says something like, “That sounds very interesting. Nice meeting you,” as they dash toward the nearest exit.

Let’s discuss the goal of an elevator pitch. I think the goal is to briefly and clearly describe what you or your organization does in a way that is understandable, interesting and thought-provoking. You want the person receiving the message to stay with you and possibly ask you a follow-up question. That follow-up question is where the real opportunity exists.

An effective elevator pitch has six characteristics:

  • Brevity – ten to fifteen seconds should be the goal
  • Common language – use language that a majority of people would understand
  • Clarity – at a macro-level, tell what you do
  • Punch – grab the listener’s attention; quantifying, ranking, name dropping
  • Scope – geography, breadth of services or products, solution applications
  • Close – value statement, provocative, playful, powerful

I work at COACT. We are full-service outsource of proactive inside sales and marketing. We install a process and supply the people who prospect, prequalify and position new business opportunities for our clients. We have 25 professionals, who work with organizations across the country – doing the hard work of prospecting that most organizations struggle with.

I work at XYZ. We are a process design/engineering firm, specializing in custom machinery, primarily working in the plastic container market segment. We’ve been in business for over 25 years and have over 1,000 installations around the world. We also act as an integrator, designing material handling and automation systems that complement our installations.

You are correct in thinking that even though these are approximately 15-second elevator pitches, in some situations, they contain far too much information. Be sure to organize your response in layers, the most macro, to more impressive details, as I have color-coded above. Make good eye contact, watch their body language, and gauge their true depth of interest – your intuition will tell you how far you should go.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be required to use your elevator pitch on an actual elevator, but if you take time to prepare, you will certainly have instances in which you can improve your networking and initiate useful conversations that have the potential to lift your top-line growth.

Questions or comments? Please contact Mark Frasco at