Read on to get a few pointers on how to pitch like Babe Ruth…
firstly, lets clarify what a ‘pitch’ is. A pitch is a verbal presentation of your business plan; in essence, you should be presenting to investors that you have a working idea, product, (realistic) future projections, (realistic) financials and of course you will need to have an intimate knowledge of your idea/business. Showing that you lack a depth of knowledge in what you are delivering to an audience/investor is the quickest way to ensure no one gets their cheque-book out.
Investors will want to ‘stress-test’ your business model, your pricing, your future predictions, your actual product and of course they will play hard ball when it comes to the question of how much of their money you want. Be prepared and expect that you will be under the spotlight. Remember that this person is potentially handing over his/her money for your endeavour. I only hope you would be critical of someone/something if it was asking for your money with little information in return. Be transparent with your audience and honesty is truly the best policy.
Lastly, don’t wear jeans and t-shirt. You are not Mark Zuckerberg. At least not yet. Wear what is considered ‘professional’ in your field. If you are a Creative and pitching something wearable. HIRE A MODEL. Ever tried to pay attention to someone wearing the product? It is terrible and makes you look like a moron. Models are paid to stand around and look good. Spend the money and it will make a huge difference. So lets get down to brass tacks…
Understand that you are not the smartest person in the room. You are the expert when it comes to understanding your business and you THINK you are the expert at what your customer wants. The real lesson here is appreciate what you do know, accept that there is a lot that you don’t know and lastly, what you don’t know is what will kill you (unless you make strides to solve those knowledge gaps). To that end, if you don’t know something, hire someone or ask someone. If that isn’t your MO – surround yourself with people and friends that do know about the knowledge you lack. Just don’t try to pull the wool over your audiences eyes!
Fictional waffle is no contender against cold hard results. We all no someone who can talk a good game, but never seems to show the results of them actually going through with something. It’s pretty easy to spot and it does not lend itself to being a credible ‘go-getter’. The simple fix for this crippling ailment is EXECUTION. Go out there and just get results. Good or bad. Its all data you can use to add credibility and punch to your Pitch. What customer feedback to you have? How many sales have you made? What does your orders forecast look like for this year? Questions like that will de-rail someone who hasn’t done their homework or their hustling. If there is a way to test a part of your business and get some cold hard data, feedback, figures, financial etc etc. Whatever it is, try and capture it and record it. then you can deliver way more to your audience than just anecdotes and waffle.
Keep it short and concise. Just like this paragraph; control the urge to throw everything at the audience. Aim for an ‘elevator pitch’, two minutes or so is ample. You want to get across your big hitting points and demonstrate a water tight model. The ‘nice to know’ information and filler can be saved for the questions at the end. If your delivering a tight presentation that peaks interest. Trust me, there will be questions.
Do one thing perfectly, then repeat. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Which is true as it took centuries to become the Hegemony of that period and boast such an Empire. My other favourite ‘Rome’ related phrase is “It was like the last days of Rome in there”. My point – Your business won’t be huge overnight, it takes years to build momentum, size and market share. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Perfect one service and then once you have a core strength, expand. Rome didn’t wake up with an Empire, it built it. But Rome did see its empire fall down around its ears in the blink of an eye.
Not every investor is looking for a Unicorn. Understand ‘angel investors’ and high risk individuals might be throwing money at Silicon Valley start-ups and digital wearable developers, but 99% of investors want to see tangible products and results. Don’t try and excite and mesmerise investors with projections and valuations that are untrue or unattainable. Show them best case, worst case and the most likely course you see the business achieving. Back that with data and numbers (because you have been executing and hustling). Give them a warm sense of reassurance and a taste of potential if they invest in you and the business.
Learn frugality. This one is a difficult topic to dissect. People see frugal individuals as boring and miserable. Scrooges and misers. Here is my take on the matter: If you are asking someone for their money, do no then host lavish company outings and launch parties, Up your salary to an excessive amount. Don’t upgrade your car instantaneously and renovate/move home. An investor wants to see that you are maximising every penny and pound they give to you. Demonstrate that the company is on line and is fighting for its success.
So there you have it. Demonstrating all of these in your short and concise presentation/pitch should have you walking away with a handshake and hopefully an opportunity to take discussions to the next level. Don’t let the images of Shark Tank and Dragons Den deter you from getting the backing that your idea or business deserves.
“I have found that an effective elevator pitch is nine things: Concise, Clear, Compelling, Credible, Conceptual, Concrete, Consistent, Customised and Conversational.” – Chris O’Leary – American Author