The Elevator Pitch, Is it an African Thing?

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A while ago ago, i was at the Lagos International trade-fair trying to woe businesses to the maiden IjebuMarket Discounts Trade Fair at the National Stadium Lagos being organised by my company and

some partners. I got to various businesses with my fliers and elevator pitch ready. Personally, i wanted to have on ground experience separate from what my team reports.

On approaching some stands like that of DSTV/GOTV, they just turned down my 30 seconds elevator pitch. it was when i was able to explain more (5 minutes plus), that the manager got the whole scope and got interested. The next thing was that they requested for more info via email. In fact, we just sent their invoice earlier today and the South-African company is the first major company to see through what we are planning while Honeywell is also in discussion with us.

The bone of contention that worries me is that, "What is an elevator pitch?" and "How long should it be?". This is not New-York where i can find a building with 100 floors which could take 5 to 10 minutes to make it to the top floor depending on people entering & leaving.

Another thing is that, i think the elevator pitch thing also truncates the real facts from our pitch and we should rather try as much as possible to explain more. This is from a practical perspective. I agree that less is more but incomplete information could be the end of a great presentation/pitch.

Besides, we need to look through who we really are and what we really need? In the case where you can profile a person and you strategically plan to meet the person at a particular place, you could narrow down your presentation to the person's area of interest and get what you want.

What remains is that the elevator pitch thing now looks vague to me but i will see clearly soon, lol. Cheers!!!

My Afripreneurial Regards,
Segunpreneur,
God Bless Nigeria, God Bless Africa.

November 21, 2012 at 10:15pm


Suleman Abdullahi
Segun, quite agree with you and just to add to what you said.... I have learnt that the elevator speech is simply a concise (expressing much in few words; clear and succinct) summary of your business.

it should tell as quickly as possible what your business is all about and the value and/or benefit you are providing to the listener. it should also aim to create interest and possibly desire.

From my experience, it's quite important one forms one and it should always be evaluated for effectiveness. If people don't mostly get it, then it time you tweak it. if people mostly get and show a bit of interest in your offering then by all means keep.

Also i am of the opinion that it should be flexible. It should allow room for a bit of tweaking as you represent it depending and your offerings and your various customer segments.
November 22, 2012 at 12:23am

Samson Aligba
was about to make this point just before I saw it: "In the case where you can profile a person and you strategically plan to meet the person at a particular place, you could narrow down your presentation to the person's area of interest and get what you want.
". Understanding your audience and giving them the part suited for them is important, personally I believe you should also have a long and short version of your "elevator speech" handy, ready to deliver as the situation demands. thank you Segun Ogunlana
November 22, 2012 at 12:44am

Rotimi Olawale
@segun: from experience, people rarely write you a cheque based on your elevator speech. What an elevator speech is meant to do is to present enough information to stir the interest of a potential client or customer. This you will then follow with a more elaborate presentation, emails, phone conversations etc. If a potential client/customer is so disinterested in what you've said in 5minutes then you might not convince him if you spend longer time. That's my opinion.
November 22, 2012 at 4:52am

Wale Ewedemi
@segun... Am happy at your openness about the elevator pitch.

I Call It the Transcorp Hilton Lobby Pitch. And in real life you have less than 60seconds.

Abuja's Transcorp Hilton is famous for hosting all the most important people and u can run into just about anybody.

The First rule is to know who you want to pitch to, knowing them and their portfolio and needs helps you tailor you 60 seconds pitch.

If you run into Reuben Abati what would u say to attract his attention in 60secs. I would say I have patience Jonathans nude pictures with Mikel Obi... Holla me if u don't want them in City People Tomm Morn....Lolll

I haven't necessarily sold myself but I have arrested attention.
So the Elevator Pitch for me is Attention Grabbing and Interest seeding.

If you come out too strong like a Jehovah Witness, you might get a shrug.

If I run into Paschal Dozie what would I tell him... Good day Sir, Nice Suit, I respect your foresight in the MTN Investment 10yrs Ago, and Diamond Bank is like your Billboard CV all over the Country... I have a Proposal You should see. Though Keem Bello Osagie has asked me to meet him here tonite, but I respect your Business Prowess and 5 mins of your time will be perfect.

Now... u haven't sold him anything yet, but if u are lucky... U get an appointment.

Imagine Meeting the Minister of Aviation in the lift and you are giving her a pitch about how u print complementary cards and letter heads.... You Elevator Pitch might be the best but..... She is not ur market.

Next time you are pitch hunting... Think of this things.

I hope my opinion is clear and helpfull.

Big Ups
November 22, 2012 at 8:48pm

Segun Ogunlana
@wale; Interesting lesson Sir and i am so so grateful. Noted. i guess i was able to profile some clients instantaneously at the fair. They complained of the stress of setting up and the cost of running the event. I replied that ours is fully serviced and you just need to move in with your items as IjebuMarket will set-up their stands and supply electricity to all stands amongst others. I have taken this lesson well and will work it well into my pitches. Cheers!!!
November 22, 2012 at 8:54pm

Segun Ogunlana
@Suleman; impressive lesson you have there Sir. i have used my picture memory to capture what you are talking about. I assure you the whole scope is covered. thanks once again for the lesson. Cheers!!
November 22, 2012 at 8:57pm

Segun Ogunlana
@Samson; Thanks for mentioning that "Understanding" is key. Its like that saying "Know thyself" and we can also say, "know thy target or customer". Cheers!!
November 22, 2012 at 8:59pm

Segun Ogunlana
@Rotimi; You are right. Although i didnt want outright checks at that place but what i remember was that "you cant use the same pitch for everyone." Thanks for the lesson
November 22, 2012 at 9:01pm

Samson Aligba
new definition: "...Attention Grabbing and Interest seeding". thanks Wale Ewedemi sir
November 23, 2012 at 5:01am

Jimi Akinleye
@Segun, thanks for the post. I was at the fair myself and to be honest, it was tough selling to those guys. Selling to them that day could be likened to hawking fried fish in a Transcorp hilton lobby. People had other concerns and paying attention to you or your products was the last thing they wanted to do.
@Wale, that was really nice especially the Pascal Dozie thing...mentioning Bello Osagie shows you're not a foreigner in the corridors of power. Powerful people love associating with other powerful people. That stirs up a lot of interest. I think the Elevator pitch like you rightly said is about getting the interest. Once that's established, you then make steps to close the deal.
November 23, 2012 at 5:31am

Segun Ogunlana
@Jimi; You're right. The first stand i got to had the manager tell me an emphatic "No" which made me depressed for the moment. I had to leave and in a matter of minutes, i regained the confidence of no going back and that was how i was able to get the details of over one hundred businesses at that fair. I thank God for the Blood Tonic and Oroki herbal mixture that did the oiling of my body. It was really hell dealing with them but we just thank God for everything. Regarding paying attention to customers, i was able to help some convince their customers to buy, resolve arguments, make suggestions, etc just to get them interested. Learnt so much at that fair and will write more as the days unfold. Cheers!!!!
November 23, 2012 at 8:04pm

Morakinyo Mo Beckley
If I posted a similar post about a business I'm involved in with similar details as Segun Ogunlana did...the post would be deleted and I get a warning. This is a classic case of double standards.
November 23, 2012 at 8:43pm

Osunwa Oluwaseun Olashile
God bless this post writter
November 23, 2012 at 11:24pm

Segun Ogunlana
@Morakinyo; lol. I guess what you are saying is, its not fair. Let me tell you what is fair Sir,
1) You (Mr Morakinyo) post links on the forum several times which gets deleted while another Afripreneur post a similar link once or twice and gets banned from the forum.
2) When other Afripreneurs make a business advert on the forum, they get a warning while if you (Mr Morakinyo) post a similar thing, we always have to beg you that we are sorry.
3) Someone post a request and you (Mr Morakinyo) comment i will inbox you or inbox me while if another man not known to me does such, he gets his comment deleted.

regarding my post,
It was difficult for me to have mentioned companies that i'm dealing with in my business in a competitive world but it shows how dear this forum is to my team and i.
Secondly, you have never posted something like this post that we are commenting on and got it deleted.

When a post is to teach people or share knowledge, it never gets deleted.

There are times when a post which is not allowed could just stay on the forum without being deleted. Few weeks ago, Ayokunle posted about an event of his which is not allowed on this forum except Afripreneur official events, but we allowed it on the forum until after his event because members were already commenting underneath before the admins noticed. That amongst that falls amongst the few exceptions.

If we havent been praised, its not important but the most important thing is that whatever we do here affects the perception of who people see us as. This forum has been up for almost 23 months and still no one on the forum can state all i do except those who know me personally.

Sir, i understand your complaint but i assure you that we are very fair on what we allow and leave out. Besides, the giant Google search engine doesnt have a perfect line between what it allows and what it leaves on Youtube. It a perception thing but the overall goal keeps us working.
Happy weekend Sir. Cheers!!!
November 24, 2012 at 5:43am

Segun Ogunlana
@Osunwa; I say a big AMEN!!!!!!!!. Thanks
November 24, 2012 at 5:44am

Wale Ewedemi
@segun you must also differentiate between cold calling and an elevator pitch.

Elevator pitch is when u have limited time, but if your victim has time.. You should look at the cold call route.

I think what u are doing at the trade fair are cold calls. cold calling is the art of approaching someone, professionally, openly and meaningfully, with a sensible proposition.

This article below will really help.
http://www.businessballs.com/cold_calling.htm
November 26, 2012 at 6:00am

Segun Ogunlana
@wale; Thanks Sir. Will take a look at it before i leave this morning.
November 26, 2012 at 6:12am

Osunwa Oluwaseun Olashile
Alright then.
November 27, 2012 at 10:47pm

John Olumide Iyaniwura
Glad to hear that you're making progress. It is also encouraging to others like myself who may be seeking to get companies in Nigeria, not just local Nigerian companies interested in upcoming products and services.
November 30, 2012 at 5:01am

Read 582 times Last modified on Monday, 04 May 2015 04:49
Segun Ogunlana

A social innovator, a fixer, who likes to make a difference and get things done better. His focus covers Project Management, Systemic Innovation, Product Development, Design Thinking, Business Strategy, Set-up & Development. Some call him a super manager, natural marketer and sales man. He is a Chelsea fan too.

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