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Why I Challenge the Elevator Pitch and Value Proposition

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

In today’s quick-fix society, we are focused on the fastest and easiest way to accomplish our goals. We search for instant gratification in our phones, shorten words into acronyms, and use our car horns to express anger over accident prevention. We are in a constant state of reactivity over proactivity and the trouble is, we may be moving so fast that we pass up opportunities, moments of growth, and the ability to accomplish a lot more by fully stopping.

Elevator Pitch-a succinct and persuasive sales pitch

Value Proposition- the value a company promises to deliver to customers should they choose to buy their product (part of an overall marketing strategy)

By definition both the elevator pitch and value proposition are one-sided with a focus on selling something while offering a one-size-fits-all blanket approach. While both may be a good start for a company to define their mission & vision or for a person to get clear on articulating their capabilities, they are a hindrance to connection. Imagine being the person on the other side of someone spewing off information about themselves without taking a break for feedback or reflection. In fact, company leaders have shared with me that often times this pitch is not even tailored to their organization.

The pitch is a quick-fix to put it all out there in a way that quickly bullets out how great you think you are. As an alternative, think about the impact of coming up with some really deep questions to ask the other person; imagine these questions could actually start a conversation and rather than a monologue, you are now conversing, connecting. Instead of spending time perfecting your elevator pitch or value proposition, think about great examples that demonstrate what you have to offer. In dialogue, incorporate these examples as stories: people are much more engaged with storytelling and if you are good at it, you can influence other’s emotions through stories to create excitement or a sense of urgency. Your presence and capabilities will leave a lasting impression if you take the time to disconnect from the mainstream pitches and focus on the person.

The impact of a forced virtual workplace in 2020 has created a space for technology to be our largest medium of interaction, leaving behind the importance and desire for face to face interaction. While working virtually has become a norm, maintaining human connection presents its challenges now more than ever. The balance of technical and emotional makes it difficult to move from task to context and action to relationship. The ability to connect authentically will be a huge asset for those looking to build their network and job prospects; people want to feel like they matter to the outside world, especially when they are sitting behind a computer screen.

Let’s move past the antiquated standard of pitching or selling anything and focus on others: what they care about, what their challenges are, perhaps how you can help, and in doing this you can turn a conversation into a connection and a connection into something much more magical than a nod of approval but rather a relationship. A pitch may get you a job and a value proposition may clarify what your intentions are, but a relationship is the long game-it is what will take you to the next level with another person, client, or company and ensure that you remain connected to your purpose.

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Suzy Teele
Suzy Teele
Mar 01, 2021

Interesting column, but I would love to share a different perspective. The elevator speech and value proposition are generally not supposed to be used word-for-word. They are supposed to be the foundational statements to start communication. The purpose is consistency because one of the big problems that companies face is that their employees describe their company's value differently, sometimes in ways that contradict each other. So the goal of these statements is to get a set of common facts - a common story if you will - in order to have those conversations that you point out are so vital to build relationships.

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