Being able to deliver a pitch that lands just right is a valuable skill to have in your arsenal. Pitching might sound daunting, but it's something we do all the time as part of our daily lives. We pitch ideas, stories, business strategies, and even dinner menus. The aim is to sell someone on something, whether it's a concept, a service or a product.
Here's how to take that innate pitching ability and hone it to get the results you want.
Great Pitches Are Like Great Pitches
Pitching in a business context has a lot in common with pitching in baseball. You want to be direct, fast and to the point.
High-performing pitches do the following:
- Tell a real story. Personal connections are the ultimate hook. Begin with a genuine story that shows that you understand the problem being faced by the person you're talking to. Your story should set the scene for why your product, service or idea is the solution to that problem.
- Focus on the essentials. Every extraneous word gives your audience a chance to zone out. Avoid boring or confusing your audience. Distill your pitch down to its very essence. Can you get your point across in just a sentence or two? Highlight your idea, who it's for, and why it's needed.
- Outline your business model. If you're pitching to an investor or decision-maker, ensure you can clearly and succinctly outline your business model. How does it work, what's the need, and what makes it viable? Having a solid business model differentiates a valuable idea from a pie-in-the-sky one.
- Address your competition. Your idea doesn't exist in a vacuum: you're bound to have competitors. Know how your product or solution differs from the others, and be able to explain why. If you truly are the first in your market, make sure you can explain the need for your idea and why no one else is fighting for a share of the profits.
Build your pitch around the above, and you'll be well on your way to winning over your audience.
Who You're Pitching To Matters
Any kind of communication is immediately elevated when it's targeted to a specific audience. Different audiences have different needs and interests, and tailoring your pitch accordingly is a must. Just as you wouldn't write for kids in the same way as you'd write for an auditorium full of PhDs, you wouldn't pitch a customer in the same way as an investor or a colleague.
When targeting your pitch, consider:
- The desired outcome of the pitch. Are you pitching a decision-maker or someone who can get you a meeting with a decision-maker? Are you seeking investment, or are you selling direct to a customer? Always shape your pitch with a particular goal in mind.
- Your audience's interests. Know the specific needs of your audience and make sure your pitch clearly highlights exactly why your solution meets those needs. Speak directly to the individual, not to a more general audience. Vary your tone, personal anecdotes and delivery accordingly. Where possible, do your homework by carefully researching the person you're pitching prior to sitting down with them.
- What's in it for you. If you're pitching with investment in mind, know whether you're dealing with an angel or a shark. Both can provide a much-needed cash infusion, but sharks will aim to take control of your enterprise. Strategize accordingly to maintain a controlling stake in your idea.
It's All in the Delivery
No matter how great the content of your pitch is, poor delivery can sign its death warrant. Make sure your pitch lands the way you want by:
- Rehearsing ahead of time. Rehearse your pitch in front of the mirror, friends or colleagues before attempting the real thing. You'll be able to find and address weak spots in your delivery and also become more confident in what you're pitching.
- Showing your business savvy. A great pitch is all about confidence. Position yourself as someone who's smart, expert and on the ball, and you'll be much more likely to get results.
- Staying cool. Your audience might chime in with questions, comments or feedback, and not all of it positive. If you're feeling flustered or attacked, don't let it show. Give yourself time to respond, and strive to keep a neutral tone. If you're a naturally loud or effusive person, remember that this may be misinterpreted - work on modulating your voice to keep your audience on side.
We're all capable of delivering the perfect pitch. All it takes is empathy, understanding and a solid dose of confidence. Know your product, audience and goals, and you'll be well on the way to success.