Successful businesses are built on compelling pitches. Whether you're pitching for investment, pitching a product to a new client, or even pitching a potential sponsor for an event, you need to know how to get people to buy into your ideas. The idea being brilliant isn't enough, though. A successful pitch is a well-communicated pitch.
Here are the three things that need to be part of any winning, well-communicated pitch.
STATE YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION
"Why are you here?" is the question that nearly every listener will ask themselves right before you start your presentation. They probably know the rough outline of why they are in a conference room with you, but they want to know more.
If you're looking for investment capital, tell them what makes your company worth investing in. If you want them to hire your company, what problem are you going to solve for them? Why should they be listening to you, and why should they give you money? To put it bluntly, what is in it for them?
In addition to a one-sentence statement of value, you also need to include language that shows that you know what they need. If they told you before, aligning your offerings with a previously-voiced pain-point is a great way of showing that you listened. If you haven't been able to speak with them before your pitch, then you need to show that you did your research. You know what they need, and you're the one to provide it.
BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU NEED
Once you've shared what you can offer, the second step is to be transparent about what you need to be able to deliver it. After all, there's no point in giving a client what they want if you don't get something you need in return. To do that, say what it is it'll cost them.
If you're raising money for a startup, how much do you need? If you're selling a product or a service, how much does it cost? Make sure that what you are asking for is at least in the realm of reasonable not just for your industry, but especially for the company you are pitching. If you ask for too much, they'll stop listening, but if you ask for less than it'll take to do the job properly, you're not going to have the resources you need to deliver what you've promised.
PREPARE THOUGHTFUL QUESTIONS
Remember the last time you were in an interview and, at the very end, the interviewer asked you "do you have any questions for me?" That was a trick. Well, not a trick in the sense that they were trying to trip you up, but it was a tricky way of seeing if you did your research. You won't always have time for questions after a pitch, regardless of who does the asking, and the people you're presenting to won't always prompt you to ask a few of your own, but it's always good to have a few up your sleeve so prep them beforehand and have them with you during your presentation.
Pitching is an art, not a science, but making clear offers, transparent asks, and asking thoughtful questions sets your pitches up for success. For even greater odds of success, make sure to leave out any overinflated graphs, avoid unrealistic timelines, and never use more than 20 slides. If possible, keep your slide count to between 10 and 15. That may seem short, but so is the human attention spans And if you're looking for some inspiration before you start building, explore some of the most successful pitch decks of all time. You may not be looking to raise a few million dollars, but there's something to be learned from companies that have pitching down pat.