Have a business idea or new business – learn how to pitch it like a PRO!
Pitching your business to customers or investors can be nerve racking, especially the first few times. Practice doesn’t make perfect because there’s always room for improvement, however it does prepare you to handle just about anything a prospect can throw your way. Start out small in arenas where it’s not a make or break situation for your business. Getting an audience, the right audience, may not always be an easy task – we’ll cover ‘Finding the right people’ in a follow-up article, but for the time being let’s assume you have an audience.
So you have the stage and you’re in a cold sweat thinking about talking to a stranger about your business idea / business.
It’s okay, take a deep breath.
We’ll start with the basics. The first thing you should be able to do is make an “elevator pitch”. This is a thirty to sixty second pitch that you could, hypothetically, make to the CEO of a big company in the span of an elevator ride.
Practice this until you know it by heart. Why?
If I ask you for the down and dirty rundown you need to be able to tell investors or potential customers without hesitation. No “um-ing” or “uh-ing” your way through it. What is the business, what does it provide, why do people need it, and how much do you want?
Tip: Find serious friends to practice this on. You want serious friends because they will consider your pitch in a better light and offer realistic criticism. They will also NOT make jokes (well ok, maybe some). Let them get it out of their system then focus – you have potential funding and a future riding on elevator pitch.
The elevator pitch is typically what’s going to get you in the door (whether it’s a customer, investor, or otherwise) – not a long winded, confusing, multi-page business plan that drones on. Tell them why you’re different, grab their attention, get to the point and make them want more.
Assume you’ve given your “elevator pitch” – you grabbed their attention now what? By now if you’re in front of any sort of audience be it an investor or customer you should know your business plan and model inside and out.
There’s an acronym that is floating around out there, you may have heard it before: K.I.S.S.
Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. Live by this mantra – simple is hard to mess up.
Be able to expand up your elevator pitch in a way that’s not ‘salesy’. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself ‘do I sound like a slimy car salesman’? (nothing personal against car salesmen, this just seems like one of those examples everyone is able to relate to for some reason)
Practice it, lots, but not to a point where it comes out robotic. Think of multiple types of individuals or businesses you may encounter and run through example scenarios. Learn to tell a story in the context of their business or an individual’s life so they can relate at an emotional level.