Creating a Winning Pitch (continued)
O.K. You’ve done your homework, selected the tools you want to use and are ready to put together the perfect pitch. If you still feel like you need help, search the Internet for successful pitches by other small business owners, startup founders or venture capitalists. These may help you formulate what should go into your own presentation.
There is some ground you will need to cover regardless. The total number of main points should be between five and 10. Again, be succinct and edit your pitch mercilessly. The Gettysburg Address lasted less than three minutes. You want to keep it punchy and moving right along. Nothing is more deflating than seeing members of your audience check their watches and then check out because you’re boring them.
Here are some of the most common components business professionals use in their pitch.
- Your opening. Grab them straight off the bat. You want them to step into the world of the story you are about to tell them. Don’t start off with the usual “I am so-and-so with such-and-such.” Set the stage with the problem your audience is facing. You want them to know that you understand what they are going through, that the problem is real and that you are here to help them solve it. You can do this by showing them that you know them better than they know themselves and that you’ve done your homework. Ideally, you should be able to capture the problem in one or two screens.
- Offer the solution. Once you have the problem framed, move onto how you’re going to fix it. List the three main benefits of the solution you’re offering. Not features. Benefits. You want your prospect to make an instant connection between their problem and your solution. You have plenty of time to fill in the blanks about yourself and your business after you make this critical connection. Don’t wait until the end to tell them how you’re going to solve their problem – you will have already lost them.
- Show them. It’s time to demonstrate your solution. Customers aren’t going to buy something they can’t see in action. Practice this part of your presentation until you know it by heart. If you can’t do it with ease, do you think your prospect will think they can?
If you are seeking investment, this is the part of the presentation where you explain your business model, the potential market, your projected sales and your strategy for dominating your competition. At this stage, your company is the product.
- Why you? The chances are good that you have competitors. They may even offer something similar for a lower price. Acknowledge the fact and explain to the prospect why your product or service beats the competition. Be honest, forthright and transparent. Remember, your audience is also investing in you.
- Get personal. Sales are ultimately about trust in a relationship. Share your personal story at this point. Tell them why you are the best person to buy from and why they should trust you and your company to exceed their expectations.
- Make the ask. Don’t let the prospect guess what you want from them. Is it an investment? A partnership? A purchase? You’d be surprised how many potential customers walk out of a room not knowing that the next step is. Be clear in what you’re seeking. This is not the time to be vague or shy.
- Close the deal. Allow enough time for questions and answers. You don’t want your presentation to be one way. You want to turn your pitch into a conversation and then a negotiation for a sale. Again, you’re trying to build a relationship and this dialogue, this give and take, will help build trust.
- Follow-up. If you don’t make a sale right there and then, set a window of time to loop back, checking in to see if the prospect has additional questions or concerns.
The Elevator Pitch
If you’ve mastered the long form of your pitch, your elevator pitch should be a snap. You won’t have any visuals to hide behind. It’s just you and your prospect with 30 to 60 seconds to make the pitch.
Here are some tips:
Have a clear goal. Get to the point as quickly as possible. Don’t get caught up in long explanations. Connect your solution to the problem in a couple of sentences.
Be natural. Don’t make your pitch sound like it’s canned. You want to be personable and friendly. Don’t drone on like a robot.
Focus on the benefits. Use a customer experience to show the benefits. Storytelling is far more powerful than a bunch of numbers, and it’s far better to let others do the selling for you.
Include a call to action. Leave the prospect wanting more information and give them a way to follow up. Yes, a business card is still a handy tool when you’re making a quick pitch.