Every business person whether the business at hand is in the product or service industry, will have the constant need to make business pitches to get customers onboard and to close on business sales. There are no businesses without customers. It is customers who drive businesses and keep businesses alive and well. This Covid-19 season has exposed businesses more than ever, that the absence of customers is the death knell for business. So how do entrepreneurs and business people succeed in making powerful pitches that will turn customers around, get them ‘sold’ onto the business and not only buy but bring others to buy too?
The answer lies in the four P’s – Plan| Prepare| Present| Promise
Plan – As Stephen Covey the great author of all time and of the timeless piece – the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, avers; one should always begin with the end in mind. Entrepreneurs need to think about the intended outcome. What does one want as the successful outcome of the pitch? What does one imagine victory to be at the end of the pitch? What does success look like? This visualization is the beginning and the building block of successful pitching. Once the intended outcome is known, then the next step is to prepare for that outcome and to design one’s pitch to be angled to deliver just that. There is a very cliché saying that indicates that if one fails to plan then they have planned to fail. This rings very true for business pitches. A pitch that is unplanned is a non-starter pitch, and unless the business person/entrepreneur is in self-sabotage mode, and is not interested in a successful outcome of the pitch then planning is a non-negotiable aspect of business pitching. Developing the pitching plan is the critical first step before any efforts can be made to prepare to deliver with aplomb.
Prepare – For business pitching success, preparation is not only key and critical, but it is everything. Preparation is the beginning and the end of successful business pitching. There is nothing in between, there are no gray areas, there are no what-ifs or what nots with this second P. it is a do or die matter with regards to business pitching success. Winging it unprepared at a business pitch is not a winning strategy. No. Never. Unpreparedness is the Achilles heel of business pitching. Discerning customers, boards, decision making teams or whoever the entrepreneur would be pitching to, can see right through efforts to quicky patch things together on the ground. Preparation involves not only putting the actual presentation together – be it a sales pitch on PowerPoint, a wining persuasive speech, a practical demo or an experiential activity to have the potential customer understand the product or solution being pitched – but also involves knowing and understanding the audience to be pitched to. Who will bet in the room and what their role is in that pitching session. Once preparation is in place the next step is to present with power.
Present – Presenting with power requires that the entrepreneur delivers a pitch that will win over the audience being pitched to. As the presentation is being made the entrepreneur needs to understand what kind of delivery mode would work best for the persons being pitched to. Are they visually oriented, would an audio-visual presentation work best? Are they more logical thinking would a presentation with graphs and other informative data work well? Are they more attuned to participatory observation would it work best to have them involved in an activity that would bring home the main points of the presentation by practical involvement? All these are aspects that the entrepreneur or business person needs to be alive to as the presentation is being made. Also, to observe keenly the body language and response coming through as the pitch is being lobbied to ensure that if there is need to quickly switch tactic or alter the flow of things then that is done. Very often business persons show up with a presentation and if for whatever reasons it is not ‘clicking’ with the audience, they are unable to quickly adapt to change and lose the opportunity to connect and make the sale. One the presentation is successfully delivered then the entrepreneur needs to close with a promise.
Promise – Making promises elicits a response of aspiration from the audience. Every business pitch needs to have a powerful promise at the end. It is said that winning pitches and presentations have a very strong opening and a very strong closing, and that a strong closing seals the deal of the pitch. Maya Angelou the poet and author extraordinaire indicates that is it how one makes people feel that they remember, not what they said or did. The business person needs to leave the audience with an irresistible call to action. The audience should ‘feel’ a certain way once the pitch is complete. This should answer the question – What next after this pitch? What is it that the audience needs to do, to feel, to say, to think, to change, to start, to stop, to continue……after the presentation is made. Entrepreneurs need to build this in right from the start and create a compelling promise to end their business pitches with. One that will have the potential customers left wanting more. Wanting to engage more, explore more, hear more or as is best desired actually do more by procuring the product or service being pitched.
The four P’s of powerful business pitches is a simple strategy that all business people and entrepreneurs need to adopt and ensure forms the basis of their pitching activities. For every pitch being made whether it is verbal on phone, written through an email or proposal or in person whether online or face to face, the four P’s checklist will be the entrepreneurs best guide.
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Article by: Carolyne Gathuru – CEO Springboard Capital
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