As an entrepreneur you are almost certainly going to need to make a pitch on occasion. It is a really useful skill to have if you are in the business of selling services and products, or if you ever need some investment or a loan for your business from a bank or other financial provider. A pitch is like a mini-presentation but it is generally much shorter than a standard presentation which will be 15-30 minutes. Pitches vary in length from 30 seconds to a few minutes so you need to be prepared.
You may have had little or no exposure to public speaking in the past, and imagine it will be a piece of cake, but actually when it comes down to it, it can be rather nerve wracking. We’ve put together some tips that should help you feel more confident about pitching your business to other people.
Content In general a pitch will say:
• who you are and what you do
• how you can help the client
• what your business/ product/ service does
• why you are unique or the best
• what you think the client should do next – buy from you, hire you etc.
If you’re asking for money or investment from someone, you should also talk about your past successes, what the return will be, and what you will do with the money or investment.
You’re a walking commercial! Think of pitching as presenting your own commercial just as you would see on TV. Watch a few commercials this evening and think about how you would sell yourself in that short space of time. What would your tagline be?
Bare bones Keep your pitch to its bare bones. Practice, practice, practice! Try and do it in 30 seconds, then do it in 2 minutes by adding a little more meat to the bones. Then do it in 5 minutes. Time yourself. Listen with a critical ear. When are you waffling? Know what you can say when you have 30 seconds and what you can add when you have a little longer. Tailor the different approaches depending on the context that you are giving your pitch in.
Work hard to be natural! By all means write down what you want to say in your pitch so that you can structure it and ensure it makes sense. But then you absolutely have to rehearse it until you are so word perfect that you don’t sound like you’re reading it anymore. Present your pitch naturally; neither too fast nor too slow. Keep your voice and tone light and pleasant. Inject energy and passion into what you are saying. Say it all with a smiley face. Avoid arrogance or appearing too smarmy. You’re not on The Apprentice now you know!
Don’t talk about yourself too much The focus should be on your client and their needs and expectations, and what they can get out of doing business with you.
Know your client Alter the pitch for every client you have. They will not appreciate a generic approach. Research them. Use Google, LinkedIn and Monster. Find out what they do, what they need to do, what they want to do and how you can help them. Consider why your business would be valuable to them, and how you can add value to their business.
Email By all means send email pitches out to clients. Keep it short, just a few lines and get straight to the point.
Keep it formal All pitches, regardless of whether they are in person or via email should be kept as formal as possible. Be professional and enthusiastic and do not use slang, jargon or be too casual.
Samples Show the client evidence that you can do what you say!Q and A Consider what questions you are likely to be asked and identify where your weaknesses are and then address those. If you do get stuck under the scrutiny of a client, don’t get defensive! Stay nice. Say you’ll find out the answer and get back to them.
Finally Try and ensure that your pitch is memorable, engaging and effective. Make it ‘sticky’ in the sense that the client won’t be able to forget you.