March 3, 2016

6 Steps To Write A Vision Statement With The Elevator Pitch Technique

Perfect the art of delivering your product’s vision within 2 minutes

You’re a talented individual, professional, entrepreneurial (or all three, of course). You possess invaluable experience in your field of expertise, and you’re that one significant project, promotion or career move away from glory. Or you’ve built an exceptional product that you know is going to disrupt your market and bring a beeline of investors.

Your friends tell you this – time and again. For as long as you can remember. The golden opportunity knocks – obviously, when you least expect it. You’re at Starbucks, and find yourself in line with the CXO who has the power to baptise you as the next-big-thing. A very rich and very famous investor unexpectedly stops by at your stall at this product expo. You’ve got anywhere between 30 seconds to 2 minutes to deliver a Vision Statement for your idea or product to your Influencer. And you need to do it convincingly and memorably so that your Influencer wants (to hear) more – of your product, your team, you. We’ve all been in this situation; and we’ve all messed up – more times than we care to admit. The pangs of guilt of watching the Influencer walk away uninterested, sighing at what might have been. The sleepless nights fretting at the wasted opportunity. Good news – there’s a way to win in this situation. There’s a way to make the Influencer listen to your Vision statement, want to invest in your product, green-light your idea, give you that big break. All this positive progress can begin when you have a 2-minute vision statement to deliver at will. It goes by the moniker of ‘the Elevator Pitch’. Bad news – you just don’t have one ready. Let’s rectify that, shall we?


What is an Elevator Pitch?

The Elevator Pitch, as it is commonly known, is a method where you communicate the Vision for your product in a convincing and memorable way to a potential Influencer, in the time it takes to ride an elevator. In this sense, assume that the Elevator Pitch is anywhere between 30 seconds to 2 minutes long. The goal is to say just enough to leave the Influencer wanting to learn more about your product or idea, thereby making them commit to a more formal follow-up meeting. Quite often, 30 seconds to 2 minutes is all it takes for an Influencer to decide whether they like or dislike you or your product. Therefore, having an elevator pitch ready and rehearsed will improve your chances. Your goal is to deliver a pitch that generates enough interest for a follow-up discussion. You’ll then have more time and a much better platform in which to expand on the Vision, and to get your Influencer completely on board. Before we get down to creating an elevator pitch, let’s take a look at what a Vision statement should address in the first place.

Vision statement using the Elevator pitch

A successful vision statement that uses the elevator pitch needs to memorably impress the answers to 6 questions in the Influencer’s mind:

1 – What is your product or idea?

This is the most important part of the Vision statement. The product or idea is really what a Vision statement is looking to sell. So first up, ensure you have a product or idea that fulfils a critical need in the target market right now. Let’s take for example that you’re trying to sell a new Requirements and Testing tool that you and your team built. This is your product.

2 – Who are you?

What makes you, you? For instance, are you a Testing professional with extensive experience in delivering high-quality testing? Have you used your experience with different testing tools to build the one Testing tool that a Tester really wants? Think about individual traits that you bring to your Requirements Testing product.

3 – Who are the target market for your product?

Continuing with the example, think about the target consumers of a Requirements Testing product. In our example, these are individual testers, project managers, and anyone else whose job is made easier with the features the tool can offer.

4 – What can you do for me?

Understand the ‘hook’ for your Influencer. A hook could be a problem the Influencer is trying to solve. Continuing with our example, think about how the Testing tool will help the Influencer achieve some of their top goals. For instance, is your Influencer a CIO trying to make their organisation more Agile? Is the Requirements Testing tool mainly aimed at enabling Testing in projects using Agile methodologies (e.g. Test Driven Development)? When you align your Vision statement to address a key goal that matters to the Influencer, they will show more interest in your product.

5 – What is the USP of your product or idea?

What is the one thing that sets your product apart from the rest of the market? What one feature blows the competition out of the water? For example, your Requirements Testing tool may allow session-based Exploratory testing, and allow testers to use such a session-based test as a foundation to automatically build a full-blown plan for a Scripted Test cycle. This will be very useful to projects using Agile methodologies – and therefore one more reason for your Influencer to be interested in your product. Where possible, throw hard facts into the statement. Did a tester’s productivity improve by 15% on average with your product’s unique feature? Say it.

6 – Who are your famous clients?

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of name-dropping. Imagine being able to say you have a Fortune 500 customer. Or better yet, a competitor to your Influencer. If you have big-name brands or competitors on your client list, this adds credibility to your product. Having successful companies use your product makes your product successful by association.

Bringing it all together

Creating the pitch

Write a Vision Statement using the information gathered so far. Make sure that you can deliver the vision statement in its entirety in less than 2 minutes. It is good practice to have

  1. One really short pitch (spanning about 30 seconds) and
  2. A slightly longer one (say, 2 minutes).

The idea is to be well and truly prepared to impress, especially if the window of opportunity is very small. The 30-second version of the elevator pitch will help in situations like a chance meeting at the vending machine, the parking lot, or of course, in the elevator. These are all situations where the Influencer is en route elsewhere and may not actually have 2 minutes. The 2-minute pitch should be used when the Influencer has chosen to stop and talk to you – usually a formal occasion. This could be at your stall in a product expo, or when someone is introducing you to the Influencer. In both cases, a 30-second to 2-minute pitch will successfully hook your Influencer. Continuing with our example before, a 30-second elevator pitch could be:

“My name is X and I am an expert testing professional. My experiences with different testing software over two decades, have helped me build the ultimate Testing product that solves key challenges a Tester faces day-to-day. Our product is especially designed to work for teams using Agile methodologies. As a market-first, the tool allows session-based tests to feed planning for Scripted Test cycles. This helps Agile teams start identifying and fixing defects right away, while also providing enough built-in traceability to fulfil traditional testing requirements. We’ve seen a Tester’s productivity improve by 15% on average with this feature. The product is currently being used by <famous brand or competitor>, among others.”

That was about 45 seconds long. Now build a longer, 2-minute version to use in other situations.

Practice, practice, practice

Remember to time yourself when you practice. And practice delivering slightly different versions of the same statement. It will help you deliver a short yet effective Vision Statement when called for, and keep you looking relaxed and natural through out.

Follow up

Make sure to ask for a follow-up discussion. The point of an elevator pitch is to generate enough interest for a second and more formal meeting. When an Influencer commits to a formal discussion, they’re already interested in your product, making it easier for you to sell it. Before you go, let’s review why the elevator pitch will help you write an effective Vision statement:

  • Ever-ready: You’re always ready to talk about your product, especially when you least expect to. A well-prepared elevator pitch of your Vision will keep you calm when you’re thrust into a situation where you have to impress an Influencer at a moment’s notice.
  • Engagement: You’ll create a lasting impression in the Influencer’s mind about the subject: whether you’re trying to introduce yourself to your CXO, pitch a project idea, or sell your product to an investor, you’ll intrigue them with your pitch and make them want to engage more with you.
  • Commitment: You will be able to – more often than not – successfully extract a commitment for a follow-up meeting or conversation. When you establish a certain level of mind recall, the Influencer will show interest in continuing the conversation at a later date and time.
  • Probability: You’ll give yourself a credible chance to succeed. Remember – you have the power to create more of that proverbial knock on the door.

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