Whether you’re an entrepreneur who’s purchased his or her first franchise, or you have a hot new startup that’s looking for investors, you’re going to have to learn the art of the pitch. Pitching isn’t something that comes naturally to most people, and getting proficient at it is something that will only happen over time. However, there are a few things that you can do when starting out, which will dramatically improve the quality of your pitches, helping you to secure the investments or to make the sales that you need to. Let’s take a look.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
The biggest mistake you can make when pitching is trying to include too much. Whether you’re selling or looking for investors, whoever is listening to you has a limited amount of time. Make sure that you’re giving them the biggest return on the time investment that they’re making by getting to the point as quickly as possible. Put another way, whatever you’re pitching will seem more valuable if you’re able to explain it quickly and efficiently.
As a businessperson, we’re willing to bet that you have a pretty good “bullshit detector.” You can bet that whoever’s listening to your pitch has been imbued with the same gift. While you obviously want to make whatever you’re pitching sound as great as possible, keep it within reason. Nothing will turn a potential buyer or investor off more than if it sounds like you’re an atavistic snake-oil salesman.
Try to Be a Storyteller
When you’re trying to sell someone on a product or a business, you want to paint the picture for them. You may think that a power point presentation full of facts and figures will be able to do this, but think back to your time in school. How boring was it when the teacher simply lectured at the class? Make it interesting. Explain the value of whatever it is that you’re pitching by telling a story about it. If you’re pitching your business, tell the story of how it came together. If you’re pitching a product or service, frame its value in terms of a story that has a beginning, a middle and an end.
Practice Makes Perfect
You know how to get to Carnegie Hall, right? It takes practice, practice, practice. Well, if you want to get to the Carnegie Hall of business, it’s going to take practice, too. As you’re hammering out your pitch, try presenting it to yourself in the mirror, looking for bad communication habits you might be presenting. Are you looking at your notes too much? Are you able to make eye contact? Are there lots of “ums” and “ahs”?
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Give It Time
Unless you’ve been somehow gifted with the genes of a power salesperson, mastering the pitch is going to take some time. No doubt, you’ll make mistakes in the beginning and deliver some pitches that you’ll wish you hadn’t. But, these are learning experiences; remember to take note of the things you did wrong so that you can correct them next time!