What’s the last thing you bought in an elevator?

Good question. I don’t remember the last time I bought anything in an elevator. In fact, I don’t think I ever have. After all, not only am I not in the market to buy when I’m going for the ride, but even if I were, I wouldn’t have enough time to make a decision, especially on big ticket items.  You only get a few seconds from the time you get on to the time you get off. So if that’s the case, then why do we practice elevator pitches? And specifically, why do people spend so much time on big ticket items?

In business school, we spend a lot of time thinking about our elevator pitches. What to say to the CEO if we see them. How to give a quick pitch to investors. And how to close the deal should we get the chance.

In my view, the purpose of an elevator pitch isn’t to close the sale. It’s not even to  give a description of you or your project/product. Not only will you probably not finish it on the “ride” (or during the time) but the person in the elevator probably won’t have time to hear you.

Instead, I propose that the purpose of an elevator pitch is something more nuanced. That it is to describe what you are working on in a way that  is compelling. To convince the person you’re with that they NEED to hear more. That they have to meet you again to hear the rest.

So I’ll ask one more time: What’s the last thing you bought in an elevator?

Now that you understand, maybe you should change your “elevator” pitch.

Friday, February 24th, 2012 Business School

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.

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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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