Five Questions an Elevator Pitch Must Answer

Five Questions an Elevator Pitch Must Answer

Elevator Pitch

You’ve been there many times – in front of a potential customer or partner trying to put your best foot forward. The solution is laid out before them, yet they don’t see the value, leaving you perplexed. With every new encounter, the result is the same: you may have piqued their interest but the conversation doesn’t move forward. The pain is there, the product can relieve it, but the message doesn’t come across. Perhaps it’s time to revisit what you’re saying. Ask yourself, “Does my elevator pitch answer these 5 questions?”

Who is the target audience?

Different audiences result in a breadth of views on how a product can solve their need. The conversation for a CEO, the CFO or the consumer of a product or service will all have different messages. Your potential customer or partner can be broken down into three categories:

The decision maker is the one that decides what gets approved

The economic buyer is the person who manages the budget or pays for the product or service

The end user is the person that is directly using the product or service

In some cases, all three may be the same person. However, more complex offerings involve multiple people in the interaction. Be mindful that a CFO (economic buyer) may not be particularly interested in reducing the weight of a vehicle, but are more interested in increased gross margins. An engineer (end user), however, may be much more interested in vehicle weight reduction.

What is the customer pain that I’m eliminating?

Your potential customers are frustrated and your product or service is meant to alleviate their aggravation. The pitch needs to identify the exact pain points felt by your target audience in a manner that’s well understood. Take the following statement as an example of identifying the pain point of an end user:

“Sales personnel lack efficient tools to understand and track their customers’ needs, resulting in lost sales and customer dissatisfaction.”

The pain of the end user is identified – current customer relationship management tools on the market inhibit sales staff to effectively sell their product. The statement is clear and provides a cause and effect.

What product or services do I offer?

In a few short words, describe what you are offering to potential customers. The target audience needs to understand how your product or service works from a conceptual standpoint. Delving too deep into the specifics of your offering may lead to confusion, especially for more technically advanced offerings. If you have multiple ways to service your customer, be sure to convey a statement that encompasses these services.  The audience will appreciate you providing a clear message of all that the company does. Also, their interest may be peaked enough to ask specific questions pertaining to their needs, creating a more focused dialogue.

What are the key benefits of my offering?

A customer needs to see value in the work that your company provides. In your message, identify the key benefits your audience finds of greatest importance. Specifically, how does the product address their pain points? Keeping the list short and to the point will have a greater positive impact on the conversation. Expanding on the numerous benefits not related to the audience’s needs can be distracting and less engaging.

How is what I offer different than the competition?

At some point, you’ve learned your competitor’s weaknesses and made them your strengths. The audience needs to know what makes your product or service different. Is it better quality? Lower price? New and disruptive technology? Succinctly identifying significant differentiators will go a long way in showing what unique value your company can provide the audience. Include the type of competition or specific well-known competitors, as your listener may have identified those same weaknesses through prior engagements. Hopefully they finally found the company (yours) that can meet their needs.

As you tweak the message, you’ll see your conversations have greater quality and clearer outcomes. And if you don’t know the answers, that’s fine! PCS Insight can help guide your organization towards a better understanding of what makes your company unique.

8 Tips for Implementing a Gainsharing Program

8 Tips for Implementing a Gainsharing Program


You’ve seen the signs over the last few years – employees not cooperating, resulting in efficient operations. Incentive plans like “Employee of the Month” and bonuses are given to improve employee sentiment. However, it seems like nothing has changed, and in fact things are only getting worse.

The problem may be that your incentive system may be inadvertently sabotaging your group’s performance. So how can you improve individual performance and also foster a collaborative environment?

One idea – implement a gainsharing program.

Gainsharing 101

So what is a gainsharing program? At its simplest level, it’s a group incentive plan designed to improve company performance. By designing a plan that rewards employees for developing and sharing ideas to increase company productivity, employees and management are working towards the common goal of improving the company. Typically, companies will reward employees on an individual basis, which many incentivize employees to compete with each other. When this happens the company suffers.

Gainsharing programs by design are meant to be simple and realistic in order for there to be complete understanding by all parties. Metrics used to measure performance are in step with the activities of employees, unlike financial measurements which can be complex and subject to manipulation.

For Example: A reduction in total worked hours to produce a given volume of goods or services. Employees will see the value and understand how their hard work positively impacts the goals of the organization. If employees are given unrealistic expectations, the gainsharing program will be unsuccessful.

Some Helpful Hints to Creating and Implementing a Gainsharing Program:

  1. Tackle the biggest costs first.
    If a company spends 90% of their product cost on material, then a gainsharing program designed to reduce material waste and rejects would be appropriate. If the costs are more evenly mixed than the previous example, then adjust the gainsharing program accordingly.
  2. Use the records on hand.
    If detailed records aren’t reliable, start at the base level of measurement e.g. total product cost. As the more useful information becomes available, a refinement of the gainsharing program metrics may be possible.
  3. Start small.
    Although it is not unheard of for companies to initiate a plan for the entire company, gainsharing plans are typically done for a certain set of employees within one set location. For example, sales staff are typically paid on commission, so it may not be necessary to include them unless there is evidence of overuse of company resources and time to acquire a new client.
  4. Be mindful of the current employee-management relationship environment.
    If there is a lack of credibility by the managers to their employees, there may be further prep work needed to be done before implementing a successful gainsharing program.
  5. Understand the company needs.
    Creating and implementing a gainsharing program takes significant effort by all parties and may not be necessary for small issues.
  6. It’s not an easy fix.
    Management across the board need to be active in promoting and nurturing improvements in the organization, not sit on the sidelines.
  7. Review the data.
    Ensure the data is accurate before designing a formula.
  8. Over time, “rachet” the base.
    As employees improve over time, the new base efficiency can be raised to further improvement. One way that is fair to all parties is to adjust the base e.g., add 50% of improvement from last year to this year’s base. This allows the base to grow without employees feeling like their efficiency will punish them in the future. Also, one-time improvements in new equipment or reductions from government regulations should be considered when setting the new base.

Think Collaboratively with Gainsharing

Perhaps the idea of creating a collaborative bonus structure has come up in the past, but the structure hasn’t been there to create it. There are numerous materials online that go into detail on how to create a proper gainsharing program, including “All You Ever Wanted to Know about Gainsharing but Were Afraid to Ask” by Woodruff Imberman. The key is to be diligent and patient with the program – your company will be rewarded by their efforts.

If you’re ready to see your company move in the right direction, but may not have the right systems in place, discover how icube can

5 Netflix Documentaries Every Business Leader Should Watch

5 Netflix Documentaries Every Business Leader Should Watch


The other day I received an email about twelve books all business leaders should read. It was an impressive list of works written by some of today’s masters in business thought leadership, such as Peter Drucker and Jim Collins. I have no doubt that reading any one of the books listed would be highly valuable to any leader.

But then I put myself in the shoes of most of our clients at PCS Insight. “Would they really have the time to devote to this?” Most of the leaders we deal with are so engaged with their businesses that it consumes every last ounce of time and energy. More often than not they need down time, not business advice. I was convinced that there must be a better way.

5 Netflix Documentaries with Hidden Wisdom

It just so happened that around the same time as I came across the book list, I had just finished watching the second season of “Chef’s Table” on Netflix. I found myself thinking of the impressive personalities and their struggles and was convinced that this would be good for any business leader to learn from.

With that, the idea of compiling a list of other documentaries that would entertain and inspire leaders was born.

Here it is:

  1. Chef’s Table: A Netflix original documentary series. Each episode delves into the life of a single world-famous chef examining the forces that shaped their stories and identities.

What’s it got to with business? The series is a fascinating collage of inspiration, challenges, overcoming adversity, and the creative drive that all of us possess. It would be hard for business leaders not to relate with how some of these chefs approach creativity, planning, and execution of some of the finest dishes known to humanity.

  1. Happy: Directed by Roko Belic and executive produced by Tom Shadyac, this movie is an uplifting experience that explores human motivation and the psychology of happiness.

What’s it got to do with business? The movie shows that beyond a certain base level of compensation, money rarely continues to provide the motivation we need to excel at what we do. Instead, we need to feel connected to something bigger and more important than us individually.

  1. Jiro Dreams of Sushi: This documentary is the story of Jiro Ono, the ninety year old (as of this writing in mid-June 2016), sushi chef and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a three-Michelin star restaurant in Tokyo. It describes how Jiro painstakingly built this restaurant over decades of singular focus. There is also a particularly poignant scene in which it is clear that father’s (Jiro) dream may not necessarily be that of son’s (Yoshikazu) and yet he is obligated to take over the restaurant because of cultural tradition.

What’s it got to do with business? Wow, so much to mention here! A work ethic that is out of this world, and with that the apparent complete lack of balance in Jiro’s life. The focus on excellence and little details that go into building a brand and reputation. The wisdom of staying small. These are just a few that come to mind.

  1. Cooked: A four part documentary series host and food writer – (yes, I love the world of food and it’s a common theme here) – Michael Pollan describes the use of the four elements, earth, wind, fire, and water in the transformation of the bounties of nature into delicious dishes.

What’s it got to do with business? This series shows us how what we eat is central to everything that shapes society and culture. Food is often at the intersection of art, science, technology, economics, religion, and culture. The conventional wisdom is that we cook because we are civilized. This series shows us how we may be civilized because we cook.

  1. Human Planet: Narrated by John Hurt, shows us how humans have learned how to adapt to harsh weather and topographies. The stunning cinematography captures the glory, ferocity, and fragility of our planet.

What’s it got to with business? I guess one could say the expression “to adapt is to be human” captures the sentiment. The series also shows us we humans have been able to conquer the most inhospitable places on earth with just our innovation and collaboration.

Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy the Show

I hope you enjoy your summer and much needed rejuvenation with one or all of these wonderful works of art to give you the inspiration and energy to take your business to greater heights. PCS Insight can help guide your organization in this journey. With icube™ you can enjoy the balance, happiness, and flow that you need to make this happen.

Happy viewing!