Did you hear about the consultant that ordered an UberPool and the other passenger turned out to be the director of business devolpment at her dream client?
How about the startup founder who took a daytrip with his family and struck up a conversation with a nice guy on a bike, who happened to be an investor?
What about the entrepreneur that landed a client from a conversation that started as a casual discussion while waiting in line for coffee at Starbucks?
These are all true stories!
The world is your networking event – there are opportunities literally everywhere. You never know if the next person you meet could change your life, business or startup. The challenge is – you must be armed with the perfect story of your venture or business at any given moment.
Before you create a full investor deck or sales deck, it’s important to have a series of "quick pitches" – short messages that get your idea across in a clear and powerful way that anyone can understand. Being able to tell your story in a few minutes or less in a way that captivates the audience might sound effortless, but it’s not. You don’t want to just stand there mumbling, so you must be prepared to pitch your idea clearly to potential investors, users, partners or even friends and family.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to create the ultimate quick pitch for your business.
1. Grab them at the get-go.
The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is starting with the product or solution. They push why it’s great. Potential investors don't respond well to this, they prefer to ease into the pitch. You want to grab their attention right away, so make it about them, not you. To best do that, start with a story that illustrates the problem. Something that resonates with them, makes them identify, nod, feel that you understand your target audience.
The best way to do this is either using a personal story of why you came up with the idea for your business. Share something that happened to you or someone you care about that led you to create a solution. It can also be a story of something that happened in society, the world or a trend. Whatever it is, it should be a story that illustrates the gap, need and challenge that people face and why they need your product or service.
Don’t over-tell this story – take away any extra, unimportant details that make it too long-winded. You want them excited to hear about your solution, not waiting impatiently for you to finish.
2. Simplify your solution.
This is your one shot at getting investors engaged and excited. The last thing you want to do is talk about your product, service or solution in a complex, boring way. You want to explain it simply, so that anyone can understand it. Use this formula for a simple solution statement: "We do X for Y by Z." Meaning "We have a platform, service or tool (X) for a specific audience (Y), enabled by a specific technology, experience or expertise (Z)."
For example: "We have an app (X) for parents (Y) tracking their child’s development using motion detectors (Z)." Another example would be, "We help gig workers (Y) find their next job and get paid on time (X) with our vast network of hospitality venues (Z).” Your solution could be: "We have an AI-powered platform that helps small and medium businesses (Y) maximize their ad spend (X) using AI and machine learning (Z)." Get the picture?
Create a bunch of these simple solution statements and try them out on different people at different times. See what works best. It's best to try them on people that don’t come from your industry to see if they get it.
3. Proof that it works.
Before potential investors buy into your concept, they want proof that it actually works. This is the perfect place to mention another client or many clients who have benefitted from your solution. What has their outcome been?
If you can mention a specific user or company, or if you have a testimonial that proves that a client loves you, pull it out now!
4. Why you?
What are your unique selling points or USPs? Why are you and your product the right ones for the job? What sets you apart from other solutions?
Don’t try to make yourself look better by bashing the competition, especially if your audience members are currently using a competing solution. They don’t want to feel that you are negative, or that they made the wrong choice with the other solution, just that there’s hope for better.
5. Why now?
Is there a pressing reason why potential investors should be engaging with you now? Are there market trends that prove that you are a hot investment opportunity? Can you solve a problem that’s about to appear, like a pending regulation or law change? Do you open up a new avenue of opportunity for them? Make them feel the urgency of why they need you now.
The more solid your sources are for these trends and changes, the more credibility you have.
6. End with action
This entire conversation should have taken around three minutes. Any more and the audience is probably losing steam, though if they are interested, they are ready to take the next step. Your audience probably won’t invest or buy on the spot, but if you can elicit a next step, there’s a much better chance of you closing the deal. Set up a call, schedule a meeting or a demo or get their email to send them more details. Lead to something that is actually on their calendar.
If they seem hesitant to continue and take a next step, don’t push too hard. You can follow up gently by email, but don't make them feel uncomfortable or pressured. That’s not the way to build a relationship.
The purpose of a "quick pitch" is to open the door for a longer meeting or the next level of engagement. This is the ultimate goal. Have your pitches in place and be ready for the next great opportunity to emerge.