Ever find yourself in an elevator with a potential customer or investor? These three questions can prepare you for that crucial 30 seconds or any situation where you need to deliver an A+ pitch.
Whether you are pitching a potential customer, a panel of pitch competition judges or your next-door neighbor, a good pitch requires you to share your vision in a certain way.
It's daunting to tell the world why you started a business, why you think it's important and, ultimately, why you think they should work with you. Usually that's because you're doing it wrong. A good pitch isn't about you at all. It's about the person you are pitching and addressing the following three questions.
- Why your product or service matters. Why does your product category even exist? As a founder, this question can be the most irritating and lead to "they just don't get it" syndrome. People may not know your product category. You need to explain why it matters to them. With blockchain, for example, you could start with the idea of a ledger.
People need to know what they owe and to whom. The blockchain is a way of taking this ledger of record and putting it across multiple devices or nodes so that there is no single point of dependency. Voila, suddenly someone who doesn't know anything about blockchain understands why they should care about the category.
- Why you should choose us. If you are a salesperson that cannot answer the question of why your customers should choose you over your competitors, you either have not done your research or you don't understand your market well enough. Either way, you should get off the phone. "Why us" is simply what makes you better than the competition. Are you cheaper? More reliable? Have more overall features? Great, then your why is simple.
If you don't have traditional competitors (you are first to market with something), your "why us" becomes "why us over why nothing." This may sound easy, until you remember that not doing anything is one of the toughest incumbents. Here you need to focus on missed benefits and opportunity costs. Why is not doing anything costing customers so much time or money that they can't afford to do it anymore?
- Why now. The hardest of the three questions. You've had a detailed conversation with someone, and they understand your category (why anything), and why you're the best (why us), but they say they don't have any budget. You knocked the golf ball square on the green, only to whack it right off again.
The easiest way to answer "why now" is with a deadline (prices going up, features will be billed as add-ons later, etc.). These time-sensitive offers usually provide some motivation to move faster. If the customer doesn't have the budget for something, can you help them make the case for moving their budget around or making a budget? If there's one thing a CFO loves, it's a well-thought-out cost-benefit analysis.
Now that you know the questions, it's time to put them into practice. The next time you're on a sales call and someone turns you down, ask them why. Do they already have a product in this category? Do they not find this category valuable at all? With this line of questioning, you can easily learn where your pitch is weak.
A strong pitch will serve you well, but, remember, you must practice! If you aren't pitching several times weekly, you're pitching weakly.