you only have 8 seconds 1200

Before we started training people to do an eight-second elevator pitch, many folks had very long elevator pitches. These thirty-second commercials would often drone on into ninety seconds, and sometimes longer. At the time, everyone was talking about building the perfect thirty-second commercial.

Workshops were revolving around the subject, and professionals were even charging folks to help them craft their own. So, there I was, trying to build a system around my “perfect thirty-second elevator pitch.”

How Long is Too Long For an Elevator Pitch?

I remember writing and re-writing my speech, preparing to present it in front of a crowd. I would write what I thought was a good version, and then end up rewriting and fine-tuning my masterpiece… over and over.

No amount of editing helped. Every time I stood up to present my commercial, it felt very scripted, no matter how clever or engaging I thought it was. “Back to the drawing board,” I would say to myself, wondering if I would ever be happy with the final result.

This journey would ultimately result in completely scrapping the thirty-second version and realizing that all you needed was eight seconds.

Gaining a Little Insight Into Elevator Pitches

One of my very first one-on-one meetings from the Entrepreneur’s Exchange was with a gentleman named Paul Rieks. Paul had singled me out as a new business owner, as well as a rookie networker. We met at a local Panera Bread.

About this time, it occurred to me that I needed to find a mentor. Paul was older than me and seemed to be a great source of inspiration and advice. I wanted to be able to work with him on an ongoing basis.

Paul was a leader. He helped hundreds of entrepreneurs, young and old, throughout his career. His current venture, INSIGHT, was a peer-to-peer mentoring group that met monthly. A group of business owners would meet each month to discuss their victories, failures, and current issues to each other. Paul ran the group as the moderator.

Each month the members of the group would record what INSIGHT they had gained from the month’s meeting and commit to an action they would accomplish by the next meeting.

The Nine Whys

With Michelle and I having to start our company suddenly, this group seemed like a good fit. The group consisted of approximately ten professionals, each unique in personality and profession.

One man, in particular, stood out. He was older, boisterous, and politely blunt. Jeff Whipple was a numbers guy and a career CFO. The two things he loved the most were cash flow strategies for contracting firms and old-time radio.

One morning, Jeff Whipple outlined the Nine Whys in a presentation he was giving the group.

They are to:

  1. Contribute to a greater cause, make a difference, or add value
  2. Build trust or create relationships based on trust
  3. Make sense out of things, especially if complex or complicated
  4. Find a better way
  5. Do things right or the right way
  6. Think differently and challenge the status quo
  7. Master things or seek knowledge
  8. Create clarity and understanding
  9. Simplify

These are the basic reasons “why” people do what they do. This information was eye-opening and made me think. As I looked at the sheet over and over again, I saw similarities within the reasons why. You could almost group them into personality types.

Sandler and the D.I.S.C. Assessment

We belonged to INSIGHT for several months before we started with Sandler Training. In the meantime, my relationship with Steve Hall and his budding sales manager David Wendkos was building.

Steve suggested that I take a DISC assessment. “An assessment?” I remember thinking to myself. Steve insisted that I would gain a vast amount of insight from the process. Trusting what Steve said, I agreed to allow David to administer the assessment for me.

The questions seemed strange to me. They revolved around how I felt about myself, how I wanted others to feel about me, and how I thought others felt about me now. The purpose was to discover my character traits. Once complete, we reviewed the results together.

What I Learned From the DISC Assessment

That is where my first “Aha Moment” happened. I learned that DISC stood for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance (many versions exist, but this is what Sandler uses). Again, I noticed the groupings. In fact, this time, quadrants. Similar to my thoughts on the Nine Whys.

Each personality type has specific strengths and weaknesses. Each type was very much needed, with none better than another. A major insight in this training was learning what would upset or create pain for each of the personality types.

  • Dominance would hate to lose.
  • Influence would hate to be seen in a bad light.
  • Steadiness would hate to be out of control.
  • Compliance would hate to be wrong.

Michelle and I had opposing DISC assessment results. I was a DI, and she was an SC. I was amazed at the revelations from this test. Michelle and I took Steve Hall’s advice and joined the Foundations Program at Sandler Training. Sandler specializes in relationship building and sales training. I figured this was a good place for us to train for our business. There was a lot of printed material, as well as a lesson about creating the perfect thirty-second elevator pitch.

Painful Personality Paradigms

I learned that each personality type has distinctive fears. A given type of personality may make you predisposed to the fear of losing control. Or, maybe you are frightened of looking bad in public. Or any other fears that may be associated with particular personalities.

I began to overlay the Nine Whys over the four quadrants of the DISC assessment. It was then that I knew if I could hit three out of four quadrants during my elevator pitch, I could appeal to the majority of the room.

My second “Aha Moment” came when I realized that these are the real pains that people have their paradigms wrapped around. As I was trying to perfect my thirty-second commercial at Sandler, it kept getting shorter and shorter. I ended up cutting the BS out, and thinking, “It all boils down to the Platinum Rule.”

The Platinum Rule

If you don’t know, the Platinum Rule is the not-so-distant cousin of the Golden Rule. The Platinum Rule says that you should “Treat others the way that they would like to be treated.” Simple and straight to the point.

Using an eight-second elevator pitch instead of a thirty-second one may have come about as a result of my anxiety not wanting to drag things out, but the truth is… it works.

Less Is More When it Comes to Your Elevator Pitch

Use your eight seconds to go directly to the pain points your prospect is feeling, and offer relief. Keep it positive, keep their attention, and keep it moving. The goal is not to sell someone in those eight seconds. You’re trying to get a coffee date, not a commitment.

Why an Eight Second Elevator Pitch?

Some groups give you thirty seconds; some groups give you sixty seconds. You can take five minutes if you’d like, but NOBODY is listening after eight seconds. You have eight seconds to grab their attention and make an impact. Otherwise, attention is lost, eyes start to wonder, and people start looking at their cell phones.

Good news! Most of the networking magic happens after the event during your one-on-one meetings. That’s right! The actual networking happens after the event. So, SAVE YOUR BREATH for the coffee meetings you are about to have. Not just for fun, but for funds. It’s a numbers game. For every ten to fifteen one-on-one meetings, like a sales funnel, there will be a result: a new business, new leads, or a new referral.

If you’ve had coffee with someone in your networking group once, meet for another cup! When is the last time a good relationship ended on the first date?

Things to Keep in Mind on Your Coffee Date

Remember not to “show up and throw up.” Save your breath! Skip the long boring elevator pitch, and switch to the eight-second commercial. Less is more. Use impactful words that send a cleaner, clearer message.

Don’t spill your candy in the lobby… which is to say; don’t stand up and spout out every morsel of service you offer. Don’t reveal every feature and benefit of your product or service. You are way too premature. Slow down! This is about an introduction in hopes of getting a coffee meeting, not a sales opportunity.

Do your best to stay out of sales mode. Do not try to convince or force your coffee date to be a prospect. This behavior will create a Fight or Flight response (Usually a flight). It may not be obvious. A flight response may look like a polite request for more information, or a statement such as, “looks great, just not now.”

The end result when you try to woo prospects that are just not interested… wasted time. You waste your time, and the “prospect’s” time. This is the time you could spend talking to someone genuinely interested in what you offer.

Focus on Pain

People only spend money when one of four things happen.

  1. Pleasure right now
  2. Pleasure in the future
  3. Pain in the future
  4. Pain right now

I’m here to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that often, prospects have their wallets out fanning the flames of pain right now. That is to say, they will be willing to pay for pain relief in these situations.

Be Effective

Allow us to lay this out clearly. A good eight-second commercial does four things effectively:

  1. Clearly introduces you to the audience
  2. Asks a question that gets the interest of the audience
  3. Presents a strong call to action
  4. Clearly introduces you to the audience again

The Parts of Your Elevator Pitch

Part 1 – The Introduction

Use a classic restaurant training technique. State your name at the beginning and the end of each interaction. People often can recall things said at those moments. In the food industry, if you want people to ask for you to be their server, you need to make sure they remember your name.

It’s the same for any business. People want to know who they’re doing business with. It’s a proven fact that folks want to do business with people they like and trust.

Introduce yourself and your business. Loud and Clear. For example, “My name is John Maggio of Hawk Marketing.”

Part 2 – Pain Question

Invoke an emotion. Introduce a pain, problem, or roadblock YOU KNOW is happening to your prospects. You need to ask a painful question or make a painful statement that will garner the most attention in the room. Again, this is a question you already know the answer to, and your audience does too. That is why this strategy is effective… it urges them to take action.

A financial advisor may ask; “Do you have enough money for retirement?” Since most people in our country have less than $5,000 in savings, the advisor already knows that most people in the room are not ready.

A health insurance salesman may ask; “Are you paying too much for healthcare?” Knowing the rates have skyrocketed, most people in the room will reply, “yes.”

A life insurance saleswoman may ask, “Wouldn’t it be embarrassing for your family to have to start a Go Fund Me campaign because you were unprepared at the time of your passing?”

Part 3 – A Strong Call to Action

After you have evoked emotion, give a call to action to show how you can help solve that problem. “If you are paying too much, let me show you how you can save!” “If you are not ready for retirement, let’s work together and help you get back on track.”

Some hints for crafting your CTA from the DISC assessment tool:

  • For a Dominant personality; if you want to win one last time…
  • For an Influential personality; if you want to look good…
  • For a Steady personality; If you want to remain in control…
  • For a Compliant personality; if you want to be right when it is most important…

Part 4 – Re-Introducing Yourself Again

Always start and end with your name. You’d be surprised how easily people will forget your name and company if you don’t reinforce it during the conversation. Most people will tell you, “I’m not good with names.”

End with… “Again, my name is John Maggio of Hawk Marketing!”

Building Your Eight Second Elevator Pitch

Let’s help you develop your key question. Ask yourself a few things about your industry;


  • Problems do my prospects have that I can solve?
  • Goals do my prospects have that I can help them achieve?
  • Roadblocks or detours do my prospects face, and how can I help them avoid them?
  • Are the common industry complaints?
  • Are some of your industry stereotypes, and how are you different?

Identify your prospect’s pain and focus on removing it effectively. Once your prospect sees you as a source of relief, they will now look to you for future solutions.

Think about the problem that your prospect has and how you can solve it. Get deep with it. With your expertise, you can explain their problems better than they can. When this happens, your prospect will trust you to provide the solution.

Get in touch with your unique selling proposition. Determine how you differentiate your product or service, and what makes you stand out. Maybe your personal brand or hobbies are the differentiator. It might be price, quality, conscientious service… Whatever it is, get in touch with that one thing, and build on it.

Blue Ocean vs. Red Ocean

Think Blue Ocean, not Red Ocean. This refers to new markets and crowded saturated markets. When you envision a Red Ocean think of a feeding frenzy. Several sharks after the same fish. If you are in a crowded market with lots of competition, think outside the box and create your own Blue Ocean. Do not do what everyone else is doing, or you will be lost in the sauce, offering more of the same.

If you don’t want to be treated like a salesperson, then do not act like one. Reframe your thinking. Instead of selling a prospect this product or that service, you are going to help your clients solve their problems. You are helping and enabling people to improve their lives, solve problems, or achieve goals. But remember, it must be their idea.

Page Break

Workshop  –  Building Your Eight Second Elevator Pitch

Find the Pain Points

Brainstorm and list all the problems that your prospects encounter. What are common complaints, stereotypes, and misinformation that often come up? Try to speak to issues that you know are happening to your audience.






Workshop – Building Your Eight Second Elevator Pitch

Part 1 – Your Introduction Statement

Introduce yourself and your business. Loud and Clear.

My name is_____________________________________

of ___________________________________________

Part 2 – Your Pain Question

As an example: “Are you experiencing pain, a roadblock and lack of results?”



Part 3 – Your Qualifying Statement and Call to Action

Example: “If you are experiencing this pain or need to overcome this roadblock, schedule a one on one with me after the meeting.”



Part 4 – Repeat Your Name and Company

Again, my name is ________________________________

Of ___________________________________________

Examples of Eight Second Elevator Pitches

  • When your toilet overflows out into the hallway, you’ll be calling on the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. But, after ABEND repairs your toilet, you won’t be saying AMEN, you’ll be ending all your plumbing prayers with ABEND! Can I hear an ABEND? ~ Ron Kaylor of ABEND Plumbing
  • If your portfolio is a little down, perk up your investments with a little Coffey. ~ Stephen Coffey of Edward Jones
  • Home buying is a cinch with Doris Lynch. ~ Doris Lynch Williams, Realtor
  • If your loved ones need special care. Don’t despair. Call A Man Who Cares. ~ Pat Voelkel, Senior Care Provider
  • If you have a cleaning problem, we have a cleaning solution. ~ Robert Wade of Maid Healthy
  • Friends don’t let friends pay excessive bank fees! ~ Robert Gazic of SECU
  • Did you know that you do not have to be a State Employee to be a member of a credit union? ~ Robert Gazic of SECU
  • Most people pay too much for healthcare. We pool healthy people together, so they pay significantly less. I care more than Obama Care, your friend with benefits ~ Jim Procaccini of US Health Advisors
  • Do you know anyone that would like to try online marketing but does not want to sign a contract? Hawk offers marketing services with zero contracts, and you can cancel anytime ~ John Maggio, Hawk Marketing

The Power of 8 Seconds!

After reading this chapter you should have a clear understanding of how to craft your 8-second elevator pitch.  You’ll also go forward with the knowledge that sometimes less is more… and this is one of those times!  If you want to learn more about Success With Local Marketing, read our post titled A Marketing Mindset to Win.

If you feel like your marketing could use a boost, or a complete makeover, contact us at Hawk Marketing Services today.  I’m available at [email protected].   We are available to help businesses like yours leverage the power of the internet and grow your business!