How many times in the course of a day or a week do you find yourself pitching your business to a new acquaintance? In some cases, it may just be part of a conversation, but often you’re attempting to lure new investors or interest prospective customers in your product or service. The ability to “tell your story” quickly, efficiently and in a way that makes the listener want to learn more is critical to your success. It’s well worth your time to fine-tune your small business pitch and make it as compelling as possible.
Here are tips to keep in mind:
1. Start strong. What’s the most intriguing aspect of your business? Think about what gets your customers most excited and lead with that.
2. Be the expert. Establish your experience and credentials up-front, reassuring your audience that you know your business better than anyone else does. Talk about your organization’s place in the industry at large. Use statistics (sparingly) to describe the type of growth you’re presently experiencing and the anticipated percentage of growth (and, for investors, their expected return on investment).
3. Address problems and solutions. Describing your product as “revolutionary” or “the best in the world” is hype, which your audience can easily dismiss. You risk damaging your credibility by making exaggerated, unrealistic claims.
Instead, address the specific problems your customers face and the unique way in which your business solves those problems. Don’t try to tackle a multitude of problems; pick the most important ones and prioritize those as part of your small business pitch.
4. Use language that’s accessible and conversational. The people you talk to may or may not be familiar with your industry. The safest bet is to assume they’re not. That means avoiding industry jargon and acronyms that either leave the listener confused or take up extra time needed for explanations. People don’t want to be pitched. They prefer to hear about you and your business in a conversational context, delivered in language free of technical lingo.
5. Show your passion. No one will likely buy your product or invest in your business if you, the owner or CEO, can muster only a tepid interest in the subject. However you’re feeling at the moment, when you deliver your small business pitch, do it with passion. Think back on what drove you to your leadership position in the first place. That’s what customers and investors are looking for—someone who loves what they do and is articulate enough to share that love with others.
6. Close strong. If you’ve done a good job up to now, close your small business pitch on a strong note—emphatically reiterating your unique value proposition, the solutions your business provides and the robust outlook for the future. Depending on your audience, tailor the conclusion towards their needs and expectations (in other words, don’t make your pitch all about you alone). Ideally, you should have a list of prepared questions to ask the potential client or investor so they understand how you can help them grow.
This is a lot to pack into a brief pitch of three minutes or less (as opposed to an elevator speech, which must come in at 60 seconds or less). It’s virtually impossible to do this off-the-cuff. Communications experts stress the need to write down what you want to say, refine it to the essential parts, and then rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. One good approach is memorizing and then recording the pitch on your mobile phone. Listening to how well you come across can help build your confidence for the real thing.
Learn how CEOs and business owners like you are overcoming strategic and operational challenges to grow their business. We invite you to download a free white paper, “Real-Time ROI: The Value of Participation in a Professionally Managed Peer Advisory Group.”