As entrepreneurs, we are presented with dozens of opportunities to pitch ourselves and our businesses — not just when we want to sell something, but when networking, trying to get PR, talking to potential partners and team members, and lots of other situations, we are, in essence, pitching.
Like anything else in business, pitching is a skill you can learn and improve, my goal is to give you the tools you need to become a pitching pro.
What makes a great pitch?
Although I’m going to give you some elements to consider including in every pitch, a great pitch is not about procedure. It’s about getting and keeping attention.
That means that you have to own the room, drive emotions with intrigue, and get to a hookpoint quickly. Have fun! If you aren’t having fun giving the presentation, your audience isn’t having fun listening to it.
The whole goal is make them WANT what you have. The details are completely secondary. This is why, when selling, you should always focus on benefits, not features. But remember to paint the results not just in numbers, but also status. Speak to their ego.
You want to create a unique theme and storyline for your pitch — think of it as a compelling human drama. The better you are at keeping someone’s attention, the more likely that person will be to go for your idea.
If it sounds like a lot to remember, it is! That is why I created a helpful worksheet that you can use to craft the perfect pitch. This resource includes several simple questions that will show you exactly what to say to make your offer irresistible.
Now, let’s look at some of the parts every good pitch should have.
For a S.T.R.O.N.G. pitch
A good way to remember how to structure your pitch is the acronym STRONG, a framework from a book I LOVED called Pitch Anything.
I’ve created a S.T.R.O.N.G. Pitch Worksheet as part of our Perfect Pitch Destination Guide inside Business Class, and today I’m offering it to you for free as a sneak peek. Because pitching is such an important skill for business owners, I knew it was vital to create an entire training for our Business Class members to help them feel confident in any pitching situation.
Inside the guide I’ve included…
An actual word for word script that I used to land a client worth tens of thousands of dollars for my company.
- A step-by-step formula for increasing your confidence and making your offer stand out.
- Examples of great pitches from companies in a variety of industries.
- A proven template that you can use to quickly and easily craft your own perfect pitch.
- And more!
Here’s how to create a S.T.R.O.N.G. pitch…
Set the Frame
Frames are mental structures that shape the way that we see the world and put relationships in context. You have one, and the person you’re pitching to has one as well — and they’re different.
Everything you do, and every word you say set the frame for your interaction during a pitch. You want to present yourself as smart, competent, and in charge.
You want to:
- Be the authority
- Be in demand — you are the prize, and you are important
- Keep things brief
- Keep them emotional (not analytical)
And so on.
In every interaction you have two frames colliding. You want yours to be the stronger frame so that you can control the situation (instead of being controlled by it).
Tell the Story
Start by introducing yourself briefly and focusing on a few of your biggest accomplishments that your audience will relate to. In other words, don’t share your entire resume, and don’t tell us that you’re the world dog sledding champion if your pitch has nothing to do with dogs or winter sports.
It can be hard to come up with an idea powerful and yet related story, so we’ve included helpful prompts inside of this resource to help you.
Next, you tell who the product is for, why they are dissatisfied with what’s already available, and how your offer provides a key solution. Tell how your idea is different from the competition by listing the key features.
Reveal the Intrigue
When the target agreed to meet with you, what he or she was saying was “This is a puzzle that I am interested in solving.” No one takes a meeting to hear about something that they already know and understand. It’s this hook that allows you to grab and hold attention because you know that you have a solution to one of their problems. You know something that they do not.
At the beginning of the presentation you have their attention because they are evaluating “how similar is your idea to something that I already know about or to a problem that I have already solved?”
If they discover that the answer is close to what they had guessed, they will mentally check out on you. Those who solve the puzzle check out. We generalize by saying that they “lost interest”, when really happened is that they learned enough about your idea to understand it — then there was nothing more to be gained by paying attention.
Be sure you’re building that intrigue into your pitch. Tell them something they don’t know. Open up the gap of curiosity by asking questions or posing situations to which they do not know the answer. Then, in the next section, you provide the answer in the form of your solution.
Offer the Prize
We refer to your pitch as the prize, because we want to focus on creating desire and emotion in the audience for what we have to offer. Don’t focus too much on cold numbers, but rather appeal to their emotions. Focus on producing novelty, which will grab and hold your audience’s attention.
You can create novelty by violating the target’s expectations in a pleasing way. When you introduce something novel to the target’s brain, a release of dopamine occurs. This triggers desire.
What produces novelty?
- A short product demo provides novelty.
- A new idea provides novelty.
- Good metaphors for otherwise complex subjects provide novelty.
- Bright objects, moving objects, unique shapes, sizes and configurations all produce novelty.
Getting and holding attention are the biggest reasons a pitch either connects and succeeds or misses and fails.
Nail the Hookpoint
When a person is feeling both desire and tension, that person is paying serious attention to what is in front of them.
You create desire by offering a prize; you create tension by taking something away.
In your pitch, you’re setting yourself and your offer up as the prize. You take something away by introducing scarcity into the deal.
You might suggest that there is a limited time period to participate, a limited number of products or opportunities, and so on.
What do they have to lose?
What are the stakes?
What are the consequences?
There is no reason for your audience to pay attention if there are no stakes.
Get the Deal
When it’s finally time to ask for the deal, the last thing you want to be is needy. Instead, you want to make the other person earn their way into the deal. The best way to accomplish this is to be willing to walk away — and let the other person know it.
Your willingness to withdraw demonstrates self-control, strength and confidence that most people admire.
Surprise is an incredibly powerful tool. At the crucial moment when they are expecting you to come after them, pull away. Say you have another meeting to get to, or ask that they prove themselves to you in some way. In doing so, you banish insecurity and make you and your offer the prize. They will come to you.
The moral of the story is this:
Most people pitch their ideas without using any kind of strategy. Not surprisingly, their pitches fall on deaf ears because they don’t know how to present the right information, in the right way. I don’t want this to happen to you. Use this S.T.R.O.N.G. Pitch Worksheet to easily identify what information to present to make people want what you have to offer.