A Pragmatist's Approach to Pitching an Opportunity
My approach to everything I do with Graham always ends up as a how-to. Graham might say that’s because I’m bossy, and he could be right, but I prefer to think that my natural teaching instincts just come into play whenever I write about sales, marketing or communications.
In his recent post about messaging ideas, Graham spoke mainly about the art of pitching and I definitely agree with what he says about how to approach prospects with your idea. Here is my pragmatic instructional version of how to pitch an opportunity and gain enthusiastic adopters.
Speak to the needs and interests of your audience. Even though you really want a deal to close, you cannot ever make your presentation about your own interests. Investors want to know how much money you are going to make for them and CEOs want to know how your solution will save them money, cut costs, and/ or increase sales. If your pitch or presentation doesn’t address any of the interests of your audience it is a waste of time.
Use simple language. You can’t go wrong with simple language, ever. Your audience may be composed of people from different language backgrounds, have different levels of technical expertise or different levels of education. Furthermore, your audience could also be tired, distracted, worried or stressed. Your message should not require deep concentration in order to resonate with people. If it does, you are on the wrong track. Try testing your pitch on uninformed people to see if they get it and if they find your message compelling.
Establish authority. This is important in order for anyone to take you seriously. Answer as many of the following questions as possible. What do your customers say about you? What kind of success have you had so far? What have you done to earn your level of expertise? How is your product better than your competitor’s.
Create a sense of excitement. A little hype can go a long way, but just a little. Fantasy sells. People need to be able to envision themselves enjoying the benefits of what you are offering. This ties in with speaking to the needs of the audience but takes it one step further where you are actually painting the picture in their minds of what life will be like after they commit to working with you. As long as your picture isn’t a dishonest representation of your offering, you should be able to stir up some genuine interest and commitment. Speak to the opportunity you are creating for your audience/prospect and how it will give them what they want.
Ask for a commitment. After all that work, make sure you ask for a commitment. Test the waters by asking if they can see themselves using your product or service and then find out when they want to get started.
Get out quickly. Never give a long presentation. Anything over seven PowerPoint pages (including your intro and closing page) is too long. Respect people’s time and make sure they aren’t left with their heads spinning from detail fatigue. It is well worth the time to try to drill down your presentation to about four slides. Graham is quite adept at this and it works perfectly for him. It is possible to say a lot with only a few words. Details can be delivered through discussion and hand-outs. You can also arrange a follow up meeting to discuss details, if required. If anyone wants you back for more, then you are well on your way to closing a deal. Secure the appointment on the spot, if that’s the case. If you exhaust your prospect from the beginning, then you will never get a second chance.Here are links to some of my previous posts about presentations and communications strategies: