Developing a persuasive pitch is right up there with the first things you’ll need to get started on when you start a business.
You never know when the perfect opportunity will strike, so it’s important you’re well prepared and armed with the right message to deliver to the people you need to impress. It’s the most important part of marketing your business – and it’s free.
Potential customers, investors, partners and funders will all want to know slightly different things, so you’ll also need to be flexible. We’ve pulled together a quick guide to help you on your way to pitching perfection.
Your mission statement is a quick and effective way of getting across what your business wants to achieve. It’s not about saying you want to be the best, or how many sales you want to make, but more about what will make your business stand out from the crowd. It’s an expression, rather than a description. Unlike your audience-specific key messages, this needs to be a snappy, catch-all statement which everyone will understand – but will also lead to intrigue so they want to find out more.
Stay on point
While your mission statement is a short, snappy introduction to your business, you’ll also need to answer questions if people ask for more detail. It’s important to jot down what your business actually does and why, and even what your business’ standpoint is on certain things. For example, if you’re a company producing goods, what about the environmental aspects? A good tip is to keep a ‘company bible’, so everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.
Grasp the numbers
If you find yourself in the scenario of pitching for investment, you’ll definitely be quizzed on your financials: how many sales will you make? What’s your turnover? What’s your profit margin? What are you planning to spend your money on? Have all the numbers you need ready in your head. But if they’re complicated or you have trouble remembering everything, write them down and have them to hand.
Know your surroundings
You’ll need to tailor your pitch to the situation you find yourself in. A networking event is very different to a formal pitch in front of investors, for example. And the time you’ll get with people will vary considerably, so it’s important to have short elevator pitches ready, as well as longer-form pitch decks. Try to entice people in so they want to learn more about what you do, or hook them with what problem your business could solve for the person you’re talking to.
Keep it concise
People are busy and no one likes listening to people who waffle on. Keep your pitches concise and to the point. You may need to tell a story about how your business got to where it is today, but make sure to keep it relevant to your audience and as tight as possible.
Practice, practice, practice
‘Practice makes perfect’ is a bit of a cliché, but it’s right. By going over what you’d say in certain circumstances, this will help you slip seamlessly into business talk when you need it. It’ll help you stay calm, too. It’s important to be yourself, though – people buy from people and nobody is looking to buy from a robot.
Remember to smile – unless you are talking about a serious subject. Even on the telephone, you’ll sound more engaging if you’re smiling rather than pulling a frown or being too serious. Be the image you want to present to your audience, be enthusiastic and make your pitch impossible to turn down.
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