photo: Aladair Middleton via Flickr
You live and die by the pitch in business.
Pitching is not a science nor an art & science it’s pure art. You have mere minutes to impress your audience and with success or failure hanging in the balance a tight relevant presentation is key.
There are tons of articles, blog posts, and examples of pitches (mainly VC pitches) on the Internet. They all have value but your first course of action is to get into the right mindset. It’s for this reason that I thought it would be wise to summarize the essence of some of the best advice I’ve been given, come across, and learned the hard way. Insights that work for those going after funding or strategic partnerships; because realistically it’s all about securing outside assets to help grow the concern.
Build on existing yeses. Shift your perspective to that of the audience. Put their strategic agenda front and center. During the pitch you’re in their house play by their rules. Understand where they go and don’t go with their assets then devise how your proposition lowers their risk, expands their market share, or grows their bank account.
Focus on the customer. Have clarity with regards to the pain point that requires immediate attention and how you, or the proposed alliance, will be of service. Paint a picture of why the status quo is unsatisfactory and how the proposition will meet the unfilled need.
As a helpful aside, you might want to checkout “The Customer-Value Canvas” from Alexander Osterwalder. The post presents his visual framework for sketching out and analyzing the fit between an entities value proposition and the customers they are targeting.
Implied knowledge is a… Nothing can kill you faster than a generic assumption. You’re DefCon 1 close to the concept. Ask yourself if the business idea is simple enough for the audience to understand and buy into. If you’re not sure, feed it to an impartial outsider. If you think it is, make it clearer.
It’s personal. You’re asking them to invest in you, not just the concept. The decision hinges on the belief that you and your team are capable enough to ensure smooth execution. No one needs, and especially doesn’t want to buy into, additional headaches. Make their life easy determine how you’ll demonstrate verifiable proof that you’re not screwed-up.
Have a specific call to action. Be clear about the next steps. Be specific with investment (not always funds) requirements, know your goals and expectations, and think about what other information is required to make a decision.
And most of all live and breathe this stuff until you can speak to it effortlessly. Remember, this is a first date, initial impressions are it, and your objective is to get to a second so the conversation can become more intimate.
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