Your ‘Why’ is the most important part of your pitch. It is your hook; if you botch it, you might as well walk away without wasting more of anyone’s time.
Spelling Out Your ‘Why’
You might be pitching for business or investment funds, and that much is obvious to your audience. Your ‘Why’ is much more than that:
- Why should anyone listen to you?
- Why does your company exist?
- What problems do you solve?
- Why should anyone invest or do business with YOU?
You need to address each of these questions in your pitch.
1. Why should anyone listen to you?
Other studies show you have seven seconds, but whichever you choose to believe, it seems likely that some judgments are formed instantly and that those are flexible only for the first few seconds.
Audience members have decided on the outcome of your pitch before you have even opened your mouth to say “Hello”.
Take control of those first few seconds:
- Dress to impress the decision makers – Theirs are the only opinions that matter
- Exude confidence by BEING confident –Stand still, stand straight and smile
- Keep your hands visible – Never fidget or put your hands in your pockets
- Make eye contact with everyone that matters – Focus on each person, individually
2. Why does your company exist?
Once you have made a favourable first impression, your audience members are ready to listen to you. But not for long, so you must hook them with your first few words. They want to know that your business specialises in their problems, that they are your ideal customer.
If you are pitching investors, they know you want money. You don’t need to tell them that. You do need to explain why you exist. Who your target profile is and what problems have you identified that you can solve. What is your solution and how can you and your investors or partners profit by providing that solution?
- Start with a question that your crowd can relate to – This will actively engage your listeners’ brains, and they will have to listen and think rather than just hear your words
- What are your company’s values? Environmental awareness counts for a lot, despite global warming being all a Chinese plot to make American businesses uncompetitive
3. What problems do you solve?
Forget everything you have learned about features and benefits. What’s the problem? How do you solve that problem?
- Tell a story – How did you discover that the market needs your product?
- Focus on your customers – You exist to serve them
4. Why should anyone invest in or do business with YOU?
In a world of one billion investment and business opportunities, what sets you apart? Every business decision is based on relationships. People work with others they know, like and trust.
- Make your pitch personal – You must allow others to get to know you and understand your reasons for doing everything you do
- Establish your likeability – A handshake goes a long way, but people like listeners. If you listen to others’ problems, then you can tailor your pitch towards solving those difficulties
- Establish trust – Listen and make eye contact in any discussions with investors or business partners. Chron.com suggests 3-5 seconds of eye contact at a time when you are talking one-on-one.
The Short Version
A pitch is not a sales spiel.
You are pitching for one reason and one reason only – You want to interest listeners enough that they will want to learn more about what you offer. It’s about building your proposition as interesting and yourself as trustworthy. Everything else comes in individual conversations later.
It matters not one single hoot how many Twitter and Facebook followers you have. The only contacts that will help you succeed are the ones you shake hands with. Real world contacts are vital for business success.
MaXXers is a Cork-based community of supportive entrepreneurs, small business owners, and founders. Virtual and IRL meetups of people who have faced similar problems and who all want to help one another. Fill in the form below and join us. DO IT NOW!
If you are within travelling distance of Cork, you should think about attending this pitching workshop led by John Keating, story-telling coach and public speaking expert.