In my line of work I meet several entrepreneurs every day. Most of the meetings are one-on-one but some are in a network setting. Regardless of where I meet a business owner, the discussion always revolves around what the business owner does for a living. I’m amazed at the number of entrepreneurs who get that look of panic in their eyes when you say, “So, tell me about your business.” It’s like they wish you hadn’t asked THAT question.
Conversely, I also run into business owners that reach out to shake your hand and immediately launch into a rehearsed script about why you are their perfect client. Some of these “conversations” can go on forever and I still couldn’t tell you what the person does for a living. So how do you avoid all these situations? Simple, prepare and be confident.
Preparation of your pitch is essential
Pulling together the most valuable information about your company and knowing how to communicate it clearly is the goal. Here are a few items you should be sure to do when you are pitching your business:
Do your homework
Understand who your target client is and what they like and dislike about your business model. Knowing the dislikes a customer has with your business ahead of the meeting allows you to prepare and gives you more confidence in addressing rebuttals. Focus on the benefits of your product or service and be sure you align your message to specifically address the customer’s pain points. If you don’t know what the customer wants as an outcome, you will miss the mark with your pitch.
Get to the point, not the sale
Concisely describe what it is you do and why the customer should care. You should be building trust and rapport at this point, not going for the close of the sale. Removing the immediate need to land the sale will also take pressure off of you and boost your confidence in the delivery.
More listening, less talking
If your idea of a pitch is to hammer the potential client with all the details about your product or service and then ask for an order, you are going to scare off more business than you win. Again, establish common ground first. Get to know the person you are meeting with. Sales is a process and the majority of the process is listening to the customer, not talking up your business or product. If you truly listen to the client, many times, they will outline exactly what your product needs to look like and all you have to do is fill in the gaps. A sales professional told me once, “Your most valuable product may be trapped inside your customer’s mind. Allow them to tell you all about it.”
A formal pitch may be a bit different
To this point we have been talking about casual networking but, what about the formal pitch? If you are faced with a formal pitch opportunity, that’s great! Keep the points above in mind for the networking before and after your presentation and focus on the main items needed for a formal pitch:
- Problem Statement – Clearly state what problem you will be solving
- Provide Market Insight – Explain why the problem is hard to solve and why others have not succeeded
- Show Potential – Specify the market potential for your solution
- Identify the competition – You must show you are knowledgeable about the competition and how it impacts your product/service
- Concise product description – Precisely outline how your product/service will solve the problem
- Call to action – In order for you to deliver your product/service, the client most likely needs to do or provide something. Don’t leave this to chance. Specifically request what you need the customer to do, how and when.
With a knowledgeable and focused approach you will find success more often with your pitch. Consistent success and in-depth knowledge about your potential client and your product, will boost your confidence in yourself and your delivery. Follow the steps above and get out there. You can only get good at this if you are looking for opportunities to network and you are always ready to pitch!