You never know if your pitch will fly or crash, so put in your all every time, writes
There comes a time in every entrepreneur’s life when they are called upon to pitch their ideas and convince potential clients that they are worth the risk.
The initial hounding … sorry … networking … gets you in the door, but the pitch is what will get you hired. We’ve prepared dozens over the past year – some have hit the mark, some have gone down like a lead balloon. The tricky thing is, you never really know whether your pitch will fly or crash and burn.
So you’ve got to put in your all every single time. That starts with research – a whole lot of research.
Sun Tzu said: “If you know your enemies and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
Of course, this is not a battleground, and the people you are pitching to are going to be your partners in creating something great, rather than being your adversaries.
Still, knowing who you are talking to, and having a real handle on how you can make their jobs and lives a little easier is half the battle won.
Often, entrepreneurs are so caught up in the passion they feel for their innovation or product that they forget to consider the vital question “what can we do to help you?”.
This is something we learnt in our many years in corporate media – the best story in the world can fall flat if you don’t frame it properly.
We start each pitch from scratch. It’s time-consuming and at times an exercise in Mystic Meg-style psychic predictions, and it contains the best assumptions we can muster. We try to put ourselves in our prospective clients’ shoes to get a sense of what we can do to really make a difference for them.
There are all sorts of online resources that claim to offer the formula to a winning pitch. Some things are pretty logical – do your homework, know who you’re speaking to, identify a problem and tell them how you are going to solve it.
But there’s also a lot of granular advice: resources that tell you to gesture with your left hand when talking about the past and your right when talking about the future. Who knows whether these strange little tips work or not?
Ultimately, you’re selling yourself, so you have to be yourself. If you laugh easily, or have a particular passion for an aspect of your offering, let the client see that.
Pitching is kind of like dating – if you feel you have to act like someone completely different to get a second date, this might not be the relationship for you.
Ultimately, when you’re standing there, your passion and thought process has to be plain for all to see. As nerve-wracking as your first few pitches will be, take it from us – it gets better.
You stop feeling like you need a stiff drink … or a Valium … or both beforehand, and you start getting excited about what you have to offer and what the response might be.
And take it from us, there are few things more delightful than seeing your potential clients lean forward and listen closely – that sense of being heard, understood and appreciated is well worth the cost of preparation.