Do you hate pitching for business? I used to. I have a blog for you that includes a short video of what I believe is the best pitch ever - one that'll help you win new business. I guarantee that, once you've watched this, you'll never feel bad about pitching for business again. I formulated this approach after 8 years' worth of delivering pitches at business networking events, it works for me and it'll work for you no matter which business sector you're in. Let's get pitch perfect.
You've heard the business story about the elevator pitch? You know, the one in which a salesperson gets into an elevator only to find an important IBM buyer riding to the top? In this scenario the salesperson has to pitch for business during the short amount of time it takes for the elevator to reach its destination floor. You're incredibly lucky if you're the kind of person that could wing it and win the business, most of us have to practice - a lot.
For 8 years I ran a Luton business networking group called Network Luton that gave business owners an opportunity to network, build alliances and practice pitching their business proposition over breakfast. During my time at the helm I saw an awful lot of pitches and a lot of awful pitches; it wasn't all bad, some pitches were outstanding so the key is to learn from both good and bad. If you play the networking game correctly then you'll take the opportunity to pitch your proposition to your peers from different angles to discover what works and what falls flat. Whilst I'm not suggesting I'm the best pitcher I would argue that I know how to spot a good pitch from one that stinks.
This clip from Iron Man shows the film's lead character, Tony Stark, pitching a missile system called Jericho to US military buyers. What makes it the best ever pitch is that it's not only short but it isn't in any way fluffy and beneath it lies a powerful pitch formula that you can learn and use to win new business.
Sales presentations and elevator pitches needn't be long-winded waffly affairs - this scene from Iron Man lasts for a little over 75 seconds but I reckon that a winning elevator pitch can be made in just 25 seconds. Watch this short video and see if you can spot the underpinning 10 point formula:
[0:33] Use Case Scenario
[1:18] Memory Hook
Don't muck about, hit the ground running and get down to business immediately. Don't waste precious oxygen talking about your company history or trying to demonstrate that you're the right person to make this pitch - open with a problem statement for which you have a compelling answer.
Resist the temptation to waffle on about the technicalities - tell your buyer what you've got and what they'll get. You can answer any questions they may have after you've demonstrated that you understand their situation and can add value if they only buy what you have to offer. Never forget that most of the time most of us are tuned into WII FM
Position what you've got to offer by aligning it to something that the buyer is already familiar with - using similes and metaphors will be helpful here. Get the buyer thinking visually and painting their own picture of what you offer in the context of their own business. Use phrases similar to:
It's for when you want to be like...
Offer total peace-of-mind and assure the buyer that they're not investing at the bleeding edge of technology. If you have time, now's the only place for a quick demo. Discuss how what you have to offer is being used to great effect in other businesses.
The sole purpose of a pitch is to win business. Don't be afraid to ask for the business. Make an offer and show how easy it is for the buyer to get what you've got. It's likely that they'll not have retained everything you've said to them so give them something easy to remember that anchors in their mind why it's best to buy from you. This could be a strapline or a simple statement of fact.