Pitch strategy

Pitching can be like shooting fish in a barrel, or it can be like hunting with a “fundamental” vegetarian handling the spotlight – or a combination of both. It comes down to your product right? Well, that certainly plays a big part, if people want what you have to sell it should be easy, however, your pitch strategy can make or break the size of your success. Like all sales and marketing processes the way we pitch has evolved – in the eyes of your potential customer they should be an audience-of-one, no one really wants a generic pitch. Each of us are growing accustomed to having everything personalised to us, so this would only be amplified, the bigger the prize!

Before going to market it is prudent to spend time defining your strategy and setting deadlines for each phase. As the objective of each conversation with a potential client is to get to the next conversation with them and the decision makers in their business – a well considered approach will serve you well. At each of the stages ask the questions you really need to know:

  • What’s the percentage chance that this will be successful?

  • Which components do you love (and hate)?

  • How could we modify our offering to meet your objectives?

A fast no, is better than a long drawn out (and expensive) maybe.

The complexity and cost of your product or service will determine how much time and/or money you should invest in your pitch process. You may start the process with a phone call, or a teaser in the post, or a 15 minute coffee catch up – whichever you choose, but remember it’s all about the potential client, so personalise it.

Keep the discussion focussed – spend as little time as possible talking about you or what you’re trying to ‘sell’. Be succinct, pique their interest and be clear about how you think your product or service might help meet their objectives – aim to have them talking for two-thirds of the conversation. Plan out your questions, keep them open and be really focussed on what ‘keeps them up at night’, what are the core problems they need help solving, where are the gaps in their business that this solution may solve.

Remember, at each stage your objective is to get the next meeting, so be clear on what you want to achieve, what information you need and what will happen next.

Good luck!

Why do I need to know that?

As an entrepreneur we find ways to save money and often the upside is that we get to learn how things work along the way. For example I recently learnt how to build a website, I was pretty determined that I wasn’t going to pay someone 3 grand to create something that I felt didn’t need to be too fancy, it just needed to say what we did. The upside was that I learnt how it works, I also learnt that I didn’t want to do that again! Our new site is so much better, and I got help – you can tell, right?

Well, there are things that I can’t learn, there are things that I really, as much as I’d like to cut corners and save money, I know it ultimately won’t save me money. We see a lot of business owners do this, for all the right reasons, but what we really need to focus on is why?

As a business owner there are just some things that, once we’ve given it a crack, we need to be honest and say, I don’t know about that, but often we forget to face that fact that this should mean: “so I think I should find someone who does”. I think I should cut myself some slack and accept that I don’t need to know that – I just need to know someone who knows how to do that. We see a lot of business owners trying to do it all – why should you be good at everything??

Why do people specialise? Why do businesses that are a niche inside a niche succeed? Quite simply because they know what they are good at, and they focus on that, and it’s what the digital age has enabled, we can find a dietitian that specialises in allergies to foods with night shades – image the size of the Yellow Pages© if we listed these things today….

As business owners this provides great opportunity to help us lighten the load, however business owners are their toughest critics and often really expect too much of themselves. Let’s take an example of preparing your business strategy: there are a million free templates for this, and some of them really are great, where things come unstuck are with industry terms that as marketers or strategists we ‘get’ them, but as with your industry terms, they don’t make a lot of sense to other humans. Exhibit A: a SWOT analysis, this is our way of saying: what are you great at (Strengths); what are your competitors better at (Weakness); what have you yet to maximise within your business (Opportunities); and, where are you at risk from your competitors or industry changes (Threat)…. Simple? Even as I write this and read it back, I’m not sure it’s that easy to explain without talking specifically about your business, working through both pairings together. So the point is, if you took the time to understand the theory behind this principle, how would it impact your business; are you better off finding an expert and working it through together – if it’s of interest to you to learn, then give it a shot, but consider if it is the best use of your time?

Sit down today for 27 minutes (set a timer) and think about what you are good at? Write it down. Note down what you like doing within your business and what you don’t enjoy. Write out what you don’t have a clue about, that you think you should. Then, review your list, think about the other people in your team, what are they good at? What can you hand over to them? What do you want to learn about and find a course/event/coach who can help you learn more. Be clear about what you really need to outsource – who can help? Who are the specialists? And what return would you expect if you spent money on these people, products or solutions?

Come back to this list tomorrow and discuss it with your team – make it happen!

Rekindle the spark

Being an entrepreneur is an exciting title and one that all who hold it, quite rightly do so with a sense of pride. And for many years that feeling carries us through the days when we only have ten dollars in the bank; it makes the toughest days ok; it helps us laugh when we really should be in the corner on the floor. For most business owners this is why we get up every day and see what adventure the day has in stall for us, and we love it!!

So, when did the feeling of being an entrepreneur fade? When did you become a business owner and no longer an entrepreneur? Well, it seems to us that this switch occurs when owners feel they are no longer building something; when it has turned into a job; and when owners spend more time working in their business than working on it.

The realisation of this situation can be extremely enlightening. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners take years to reach the point where they realise they’ve fallen a little out of love with what they created and it’s time to take a moment to sit back and review what they’ve achieved; consider where they are now; and decide what the future will look like.

If you are a business owner, have you reached this point?

If you have been through it, congratulations, I hope you are again reinvigorated for your creation and are looking to the future with renewed passion based on the path you have chosen for your business – growth, exit, or sale.

If you are currently standing at the edge of this consciousness – get ready to enjoy the ride! This can be a very exciting time for you. Of course it’s no picnic – there are some really difficult questions you will need to answer and some major challenges you will need to face. You must be ready for change and open to seeking input from people who don’t love your business like you do, but their input is necessary to give you a fresh perspective; to help you see the future clearly; and for you to be in a place to embrace change.