3 min.


Elevator Pitch: Why It Is Important to Be Able to Synthesize Key Insights in Higher-Level Interactions With the CEO

Photo by @mahadaamir via Unsplash.com

One of the most popular topics among my clients is communicating with executives in large international corporations. So, I decided to explore the topic in more detail in this blog.

I must say right away that this is a skill that has to be honed continuously. It is only through regular question-asking to oneself and quick answer-finding that you can learn how to communicate key insights in 30 seconds. Having this skill indicates your proficiency in the proposed solution and your ability to convey the essence of a matter in a short period of time as well as a good understanding that the client will accept your insights.

Why Is the Elevator Test Important?

Let’s say you have arrived to a client to meet on some important major project. The whole team was checking the final blue book the entire night, and there you are, in the strategy room, wearing your best suit and ready to deliver your best business performance. Your client is a Top 50 Fortune company, with the headquarters at the top of a skyscraper. Unexpectedly, the company’s CEO comes into the room and apologizes for not being able to attend your meeting. But they also invite you to join them as they go down in the elevator to briefly outline the gist of your insights.

It takes about 30 seconds for the elevator to travel to the ground floor of the building. What should you accomplish during this time? Firstly, you must convey the essence of your solution and, secondly, convince the CEO that your solution is the best one. This is the principle behind the elevator pitch test.

The elevator test is used in many companies as an excellent means to guarantee the efficient use of the executives’ time. E.g., managers in Procter & Gamble must present memos one page long or less. Hollywood producers may ask screenwriters to express a movie idea in just one paragraph – if the producer gets “hooked” by the first lines, the screenwriter gets the opportunity to write a script for the future movie. Jason Klein, a former employee of the Firm, made the elevator pitch training mandatory for all employees as he took over as head of Field & Stream magazine.

The sales team did not know how to “sell” the magazine to customers, and the ad sales were falling. I fixed the situation by introducing the elevator pitch. I asked the customer service team to tell me about their magazine in 30 seconds. As the salespeople continuously practice this skill, the magazine’s advertising grows year after year.

How Can You Fit the Results of Three Months Work Into 30 Seconds?

Begin with a brief description of the problem your team is solving. Remember that the client only wants to know your insights and the benefits they will receive if following them. Most stumble on the fact that there are numerous insights and yet it is not clear which one to pursue.

Tip: Mention only three most important and beneficial insights. Don’t focus on the evidence – you will be able to present it later when the client has more time.

Let’s say you’ve analyzed the facts and found that the client’s company sells less products because the sales departments are clustered by region rather than by consumer type. You also have other, more detailed evidence too, e.g., sales volume by consumer type, consumer interviews, retail and wholesale field studies, and a host of other data.

Let’s Get Back to The Elevator with the CEO

30 seconds is enough to say the most important thing: “We have found that your sales could be increased by 30% within a year if we reorganize your sales teams by the type of consumers. We are ready to discuss the details at any other time convenient to you. Have a nice day!”

Источник: личный опыт и вольный перевод книги  И. Расиел «The McKinsey Way»

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