Are you hoping to get an angle investor, a shareholder who will become part of the day-to-day running of the business, or a loan? If it’s a sales pitch, know where you can accommodate your potential customer’s requests – and where you can’t budge. Be prepared with alternatives in your initial offering, in case your potential customer needs to know more, or wants something slightly different to what you’re offering – you need to know where you can make changes, and where you aren’t negotiable. If you are looking for suppliers or distributors, make sure you know the terms you are hoping for, and also be prepared to learn from their questions or requests.
“People are going to tell you to prepare an elevator pitch. Why limit yourself or your imagination to elevators? You need to think of it as your anywhere pitch. Over the past few months entrepreneurs have pitched their ideas to me in two far more interesting settings than elevators. One was while riding a bicycle in South Africa.”
– Richard Branson, global CEO
Tip 2: Know your facts
If you’re pitching to an investor, make sure you’ve done your due diligence, and have all your businesses facts and figures at your fingertips: balance sheets, details of current and future deals, proof of all necessary regulatory and legislative requirements- and realistic future projections and valuations. If it’s a sales pitch, ensure that you know how your product or service can benefit your audience – don’t just sell it from your point of view.
Tip 3: It’s about a conversation
A good pitch is one that leads to a conversation between your business and the businesses or investors that you are talking to. It is almost impossible that your presentation will have everything in it that the other parties want to know. So be prepared for the discussion that will follow after you have said your piece. If you’re not ready for what comes after the pitch, then all the work to create your perfect pitch will have been wasted.
Tip 4: Deal with interruptions, questions and objections calmly, and with respect
Remember that a pitch is a conversation. You might have planned to go through your slides or a document in one go, and then take questions, but if your audience interrupts you need t assume they have their reasons. Remain calm, and address their concerns or answer their questions. If your prepared pitch already answers what they want to know, then you can smile and tell them you will address their issue. If, however, your potential investor or customer disagrees with what you say, then you need to take their point of view to heart, and explain why you hold your position. Do this professionally and respectfully – and present as many facts as you can to support your position.
You will notice that this is all about Tip 2: a good businessman or businesswoman knows his or her facts.
Tip 5: Include a clear call to action
You need to listen to your potential investor or buyer and address their questions – but you need to remember that this is your pitch, and you need to lead the conversation. Prepare beforehand for what you want to say, and know where you want the conversation to lead. Make sure you have a clear call to action: “For these reasons, we believe your investment of R1 million should be focused on developing and training our staff,” or “This is why our product makes sense for you to distribute – when would you like to take delivery of the first shipment?”.