May 2023 · 10 Min Read
Whether it’s a business pitch or something entirely personal, we all have our methods of persuasion. You’ve just come home from work, you sit down in front of the TV and you know it’s your night to cook. As your eyes start to feel heavier, you get an email from your favourite pizzeria, saying it’s buy one, get one free night. Your wife’s tired too and it’s not fair to ask her to cook, so what do you do? You pitch for an evening of dough balls, garlic bread and thin, Italian style pizza with tiramisu to finish you both off.
You know your wife well. She wants the pizza just as much as you do but she’ll be thinking about the cost and the hungover feeling you both get after eating greasy food, even when you don’t drink any alcohol. Before she has a chance to speak, you start the perfect pitch. You remind her that you both have the day off tomorrow, you just received your monthly bonus and you promise this will be the only time you order out this month. All she has to do is look at the pictures of the melted cheese and crispy doughballs before taking action and clicking the order button. Success! Pizza tonight, dehydration tomorrow!
A business pitch is an attempt to persuade a person or a group to your point of view. You might ask an investor to fund your business growth or a potential customer to buy your products and services. It seems simple. If you can persuade your wife to order pizza or your kids can persuade you to buy them a cuddly toy, why do business pitches go so wrong, so often? WHY!
How often are you sold to every single day? You see an ad on TV, you walk into a shop and get attacked by a salesperson, you sit down at your desk and receive 25 LinkedIn messages from people you don’t know. These messages offer anything from new cars to office supplies and you quickly find out what they do. You sometimes get to understand how too. “We sell new and used cars”. “We sell books online”. “We take photos”.
What they often fail to explain is why you should care. Thousands of companies sell new and used cars, you can buy a billion books online and in physical shops, plus modern phones mean there are hundreds of photographers in every room. Could you benefit from a new car or a photoshoot? Maybe but even if you could, why would you buy it from them, especially if they have little to no brand awareness?
You might be thinking that you need to push the benefits of your offer. To a degree, that’s true but you’re way too early. Everyone’s different and what matters to the person you’re speaking to might not hold any relevance to someone else who also needs what you offer.
Your business pitch starts before you ever say a word. Work out the needs of your audience. What’s the problem your product or service solves? What do your potential customers desire? What makes your brand different from the others who sell something similar?
When you’re marketing and speaking to a wider range of people, for example in a networking meeting or on a social media post, you can focus on the benefits that attract a wider group. You know that your automatic iron saves hours of time as all your customers have to do is plug it in, so shout about it. Yet, when you’re speaking to investors, they might not care about the hours of time it saves. They might buy one but to give you money to expand, they want to know how many people have bought your iron already and what the forecast is for future sales. They also want to know if you have a patent and how quickly you can offer a return on their investment.
Before you make a business pitch, research. Find out what your potential client or investor really needs and see if you have the solution. Check their website, use Google, study social media and simply ask. The best way to discover a client’s needs is to take a full brief and to listen carefully. You could discover a whole new use for your product that you didn’t know existed. Remember, the brief taking stage is not the place to pitch. That comes later when you’re better informed.
With content that connects and compels
You’ve done your research and you know why your solution is the right one, so now it’s time to show how you can help. Throughout your pitch, remember to balance entertainment with information.
By now, you know what makes the person you’re speaking to tick. Start your business pitch with something that will grab their attention and make them want to continue to listen. It doesn’t have to be a song or a dance, in fact some people would hate that, but it does need to evoke a feeling. Negative emotions work just as well as positive ones but be careful. There’s a difference between persuasion and manipulation. Only use negative emotions if they’re already apparent and you have a genuine solution. Creating negative emotions just so you can earn money is immoral and often bad for long-term business.
You might think your customer already knows the things you researched so why refer back? When a potential client or investor sees that you’ve put in the effort to find out about them and that you truly listened when you took a brief, they’re more likely to trust you. You’re speaking to them from a point of knowledge and understanding, rather than a point of presumption.
People live busy lives and your business pitch is probably just one small part of their day so get to the point. Don’t rush but don’t waffle. You’re not there to purely educate. You’re there to persuade so grab them with a powerful hook, explain the key benefits of working with you and give them something specific to do before you leave.
However good you are at presenting, you still need to practice. Everyone misses something. Practicing makes it less likely that you’ll miss something important and it improves your flow. Remember, your potential customers and investors are busy. They might feel sorry for you if you’re constantly checking your notes and forgetting key parts of your presentation but they won’t wait for you and they probably won’t buy from you either.
Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools you have. The next time you go to a café or a pub with friends, take notice of the stories being shared. Listen to the laughter, the gasps, even the tears. Watch as the listeners’ facial expressions match the storytellers'. See the connection. Stories connect us on a deeper level. When you use a relevant story in a pitch, it’s much easier to hold your audience’s attention. Back your story up with fact and you’ll make your audience think, feel and take action.
We speak about ourselves on occasion at Puck Creations but only when it’s relevant. We do it to make a point like the one we’re doing now or to establish a benefit for our clients and to back it up with authority. When you’re pitching, remember, it’s about the customer. That doesn’t mean you have to say “you” all the time, it means you need to make sure every point you make is relevant.
It’s easy to copy everyone else. It’s understandable too but if you do, you’re less likely to persuade anyone in a business pitch. You spend time establishing brand equity and marketing your brand so potential customers and investors know who you are and what you stand for. If your business pitch doesn’t align with your values, tone of voice and overall business WHY, your audience will lose trust. It’s much harder to build trust back up than it is to lose it.
No matter how great your product or service is, potential buyers and investors will find reasons not to buy. It’s human nature to be cautious and we’ve all been burned by salespeople who overpromise and underdeliver. Research and acknowledge possible objections, then get in front of them. At the very least, be prepared to be asked about them and have answers at hand. “Yes, you’re right, this was a challenge and this is how we managed to overcome it…” “Many people see this as a problem but we see it as an opportunity. Here’s why…”
When you get to the end of your business pitch, you could just leave. Many people do but why did you go in the first place if you didn’t want to ask for something? That doesn’t mean you have to ask for an immediate investment or purchase. Ask them to do something. Have a list of possible things you’d like to get from the pitch. Do you want to arrange a follow up call? Maybe you’d like a decision by a certain date? You might ask them to read your blogs or follow you on social media to connect with your brand further. If you ask for nothing, you’ll get nothing.
Is there such thing as a perfect business pitch? We’ve never seen one but you can definitely improve yours by following the guidance above. Remember, you need to make your audience feel, you need them to see the logic in accepting what you offer and you need to give them something to do once they’re ready. One final tip. A business pitch is easier when you have a respected and recognisable brand so make sure you define it.
For a clear, consistent, relevant message that stands out.
A.) A written version of a business pitch works on the same principles as a pitch where you present in person. You need to connect with your audience by making them feel, you need to overcome potential objections and you need to ask them to do something.
A.) A business pitch needs to include a hook to grab your audience’s attention, a story to keep them intrigued, an answer to potential objections and a call to action. Above all, it needs to focus on solutions to the specific challenges your customer has and needs to be based on thorough research.
A.) The main purpose of developing a business pitch is to persuade an investor to give funds to your business or a customer to buy your products and services. For the best chance of getting it right, you need to do your research and define your brand.
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