You get in the elevator to head up to the 12th floor. A prospect you’ve always wanted to talk to enters at the third floor. He recognizes you and says, “I’ve seen you before. What do you do for the institution?”
So, can you reply in 8 seconds or less? That’s about how much time you have to grab someone’s attention or leave a first impression. Can you say what he “wants to hear” without boring him or before you get to your destination? Yes — but only if you’re prepared. And how do you do that?
Memorize Elevator Pitches
You need an elevator pitch. An “elevator pitch” is a conversation starter, not a monologue. It is a concise, carefully planned, and well-rehearsed description of your product, service or mission that anyone should be able to understand in the time it would take to ride up in an elevator. It should sound natural, not stiff (practice in front of a mirror — you don’t want to sound like a 5th-grader presenting a book report to the class).
Make sure you have all your elevator pitches (yes, you should have more than one) down pat and ready to recite, because you will need to use them when the opportunity comes … whether at a reunion, legacy society luncheon, party, or bumping into someone while you’re walking down the street.
Here’s an example of a perfect elevator pitch: Did you know you don’t have to be wealthy to make a significant gift?
It Is Not a “Sales Pitch.”
Don’t get caught up in using the entire pitch to tell the prospect how great your gift plan is. Your prospect is “buying” you and your mission, not the gift plan. Instead, focus on telling the prospect how great your institution is, and how the good work that it does has an impact on the world.
The language for each elevator speech should be informal, and that’s whether it’s describing what you do or summarizing one of your nonprofit’s gift plans.
How to develop your Elevator Pitch?
We’ve already done it for you in our must-have, very handy Ultimate Quick Reference Planned Giving Pocket Guide.