Learn to Pitch Effectively to Score More Wins
If you own your own business, mastering the art of the pitch is fundamental to gaining investors, loans, clients and even employees. People need to understand your vision and how you will make it a reality. The same is true for company leaders pitching big ideas for new initiatives, products and programs, or even when advocating for a promotion for yourself or others. Think persuade, influence and convince: these are the hallmarks of an effective pitch and at the heart of this communication challenge.
Pitching is so important that Monica Motivates created Pitch University to teach business leaders these skills through intensive coaching, group practice and feedback that drives rapid improvements. A strong pitch can help you develop the confidence to present to decision makers, push past your fear of hearing no, secure funding, have projects greenlighted, forge strategic partnerships and advance your business or career.
Here’s what we know works:
- Know your audience
Understanding what your audience cares about is the key starting point for any communication, and certainly when your goal is to persuade someone to buy from you, embrace your idea or reward you with a promotion or raise. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for presenters to start with what they are excited about rather than focusing on what their audience is thinking (or worrying) about.
Grabbing and holding people’s attention is not a problem when you focus on what matters to them — self-interest gets people’s attention. That means researching to learn about your potential audience, or thinking through what you already know, or can legitimately intuit, about what matters most to them. “Really knowing someone means understanding what motivates them and anticipating what their needs are,” according to Newcastle University’s START UP program that provides coaching and business advice to students and recent graduates in the UK who want to found their own businesses.
It’s understandable that you are excited to highlight the products and services your business offers, but share them in terms of how they meet the needs of those you’re communicating with. Can your company save them time or money? Make their life easier? Help them be more successful and profitable?
And, yes, you want your boss to know how great you are so she agrees to a stretch assignment or a raise, but convey that greatness in terms of how what you do — and can do more of — solves problems and advances department and company goals.
- Tell a clear story and communicate your unique value proposition
As an individual, your unique value proposition (UVP) or unique selling proposition (USP) reflects your “why.” It gets to your foundational purpose and how what you do makes a difference for others. The popular motivational speaker and author, Simon Sinek, says that inspired people and companies start from their core purpose and foundational beliefs to help others get excited about their ideas because, “People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.”
As a business owner, your USP describes the benefit you bring to customers in a way that differentiates you from competitors. It tells customers why they should buy from you and helps guide your actions as a company in alignment with the value you bring to the marketplace. Your USP will include the specific customers or segments you serve, the particular needs your product or service meets and the price point at which you compete. Your USP helps you distinguish how and where you shine most brightly and out-perform others.
Newcastle University’s START UP advises, “Tell a ‘big picture’ story of your past progress and future plans, including the ‘why’ behind it and what is driving you to pursue the opportunity.”
- Close with a compelling call to action
Too often, business owners and leaders lay out a great pitch to buy a product, endorse an idea, or approve a proposal and omit the actual ask. A strong close always includes a specific action the person or group can take next. Even when you meet someone at a networking event, you want to close the conversation with a call to action, such as requesting a business card, asking for an introduction to someone else, or gaining permission to follow up later.
Through Pitch University, participants learn to create an effective pitch deck (including what to leave out) and enjoy multiple opportunities to practice their pitch, deliver it in front of peers and executive faculty, gain specific feedback and try again in a supportive environment. “This experience allowed every woman in the room to be able to push through her fear and create compelling, high-impact pitches,” explains Tiana Patrice, Pitch University graduate and founder of the Women’s CEO Alliance.
With unique tracks for entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and individuals wanting to stand out, Pitch University helps participants position themselves to secure venture capital funding and corporate contracts, clearly tie their role to company strategy, and communicate a compelling personal brand. Learn more about Pitch University or apply today.