An elevator pitch is too long
I usually decide in the first 5-10 seconds whether I want to actively listen to someone describe their business or passively and politely listen.
I don't think I set the bar too high.
If you are face-to-face with someone - it is worth more than any paid advertising; make the most of it.
You aren't just "pitching" to them. If they believe in what you are selling (service or product), you are also pitching to their network. Think of the circle system on LinkedIn or, more historically, six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
I just met an entrepreneur that had a prototype of the product he is preparing for production. He had personality coming out of every pore - he had lots of enthusiasm, was well-groomed, extremely positive and had a nice sales pitch for his product.
I left the conversation thinking I will probably buy his product, if I see it where I shop, because I like him as a person. I don't know if I actually need his product. Once he started talking, it was more about the product itself and less about whether I needed it.
On the flip side, a pitch that starts by asking questions of the listener, can get invasive; making them feel like there is a right or wrong answer to the question. A person can go too far with helping you discover if you really need their product. I think of the Kirby salesperson with their never ending stream of leading questions.
Is there a middle ground? Avoid being pushy but, at the same time, let the prospective client know they need your services.
Try making general, broad strokes statements. Leave the specifics for later. This opens the door for the prospect to ask you specific questions. From my perspective, this is the best outcome because it means they are engaged in what you have to offer.
The first sentence out of your mouth needs to grab their attention. Maybe one sentence is all you need.
For example a real estate agent could say "I help people find their perfect home". A medical specialist could say "I help identify and treat the cause of pain". A coffee barrister could say "I help people smile".
All of these statements get the minds of the listener in active thinking mode.
If you have more than an elevator ride with them and can engage in a longer dialogue, read my blog - "Are you memorable?" which discusses a new approach to conversations at networking events.
It may take time to find the ideal one sentence pitch, but every time you interact with someone you have the opportunity to fine tune it.