In one of the worst business pitches ever featured on the ABC reality show, “Shark Tank,” Michael J. Desanti tries to wow the panel with a bird feeder that can be remotely triggered to electrocute ravenous squirrels. The only thing that got zapped was any potential for interest from the prospective investors.
Tip: Be sure your pitch doesn’t involve sending any animal featured in “Bambi” to the electric chair.
But let’s not get bogged down in what to avoid—we’d be here all day. Instead let’s lay out some positives: items, attitudes and approaches you need to make your pitch truly compelling, whether you’re looking for investors, partners or new clients.
How you change the world
Your small business should be providing a product or service that solves a problem. Understand the difference between features and benefits and focus on the benefits of your business. To accomplish this you must be able to succinctly state the problem. Can you do this in one or two sentences? If not, tighten it up. You want your audience to relate to the problem.
Be equally succinct in how your business solves this problem. This is why I strongly advise you to not get bogged down in “features.” If your audience thinks that your solution to the problem requires a hundred moving parts, it compounds the number of ways your business plan can fail.
Use Plain English
Jargon and technical lingo do not impress anyone. Often the professionals who toss around the most acronyms, jargon and tech-ese are those who are less sure of their ability. They’re over compensating. Your audience will smell fear in the air and flee.
You may have to practice your presentation extensively to achieve this. Use your smartphone to video yourself. Work on clarity and brevity.
Leave the pies in the sky
Potential partners, investors, key employees and clients want someone who has the vision but is also rooted in reality. Small business people are by nature optimistic and that’s a good thing. However, don’t go “over the top” and present projections that are unrealistic.
If you’re trying to sell your product or service to a new buyer, or raise money to expand, you can be certain that the people you’re talking to—if they’re serious—know the risks and have a feel for the downside of your proposition. Conduct your due diligence and be able to directly address concerns.
Also, don’t slight the worries some may have and try to make them seem insignificant. Show that you also understand the risks and explain how your business is prepared to handle those situations.
If your business is sound and you can show yourself as an inspiring, credible and confident leader, you’re well on your way to a compelling pitch.