You want to start a business or you’ve already developed your idea. Now, all you need is investors and clients. In order to get them, you have to pitch your idea, your business and even yourself!
If you want to become an entrepreneur, you have to know how to pitch your business. Even if you decide not to pursue funding, having a great elevator pitch will ensure that you know your business inside and out.
When a prospective client makes contact with you and is expressing interest in your services, you have to be ready. That means you have to buckle up and prepare for a pitch meeting. If you’re not a professional sales person, the whole concept of a pitch meeting might throw you off a little bit at the beginning. However, if you follow the 10 steps we will go through in the following article, you will be a winner!
What is a pitch meeting?
First thing’s first – let’s try to explain the core concept. A pitch meeting is a meeting in which someone is trying to convince someone else of an idea. In the business world, a pitch meeting is where you convince a potential investor or a client to pursue your services or invest some money in the business you’re introducing during your pitch.
The goal of any pitch meeting is to engage investors in a conversation. Your job is to emphasize those elements of your business that would make the investors want to know more about it. You have to be compelling, seize the opportunity and showcase what truly qualifies you to be a winner in your niche.
How long is a pitch meeting?
Pitching to investors can be intimidating, that’s for sure. You may have 10 pages of proven financial history and a deep business analysis of how you triumphed over your competitors but you can’t simply cover all of this.
When you’re pitching to investors and venture capitalists for the very first time, you’ll often have not more than 10-20 minutes to present your case.
How to make a great pitch for investors?
Let’s go over the 10 steps to pitch your idea, business, product or service to industry experts and be successful:
- A presentation is a must
Take the time to create a visually-pleasing and informative presentation. Put together a set of slides designed to impress your audience. You should have two versions – an extended one and a shorter version that you can speak to within 10-20 minutes. You can always send the detailed version to the investors after the meeting.
PowerPoint is just one of the tools you can use. See this list of other presentation tools that can help you put together a professional pitch presentation.
- Practice Your Pitch
Some people are good at improvisation but in this case, you have to practice. If you’re unable to quickly speak and answer questions regarding each aspect of your business, you may as well just don’t have the pitch meeting at all.
Time is money. If you’re asking for 10 or 20 minutes of the investors’ time, make sure you don’t go over the designated time limit. Practice your presentation at home and set a timer. If you’re on slide 6 and the 20 minutes are over, modify your message, simplify what you’re speaking about and keep only the elements that build up your business. Everything else can be left for later on When you’re practicing at home, speak out loud and record yourself so that you can play it back and analyze what sounded weird and where you make mistakes.
- Focus on What Problem is Your Product / Service Solving in the Market?
How to start a pitch meeting? Start with a compelling story. Explain what’s the problem you’re trying to solve in the marketplace. This will definitely engage your audience and keep them interested in what you’re about to say. If you can back up your claim with data, a great infographic or survey, that would be even better.
Relate your story to the audience – in your case, the investors. Do some research about the investors and find out what industries they have invested in previously. This way, you’ll get a sense of what they care about and adjust your story to their previous experience.
Here, you can mention your competitors, if any. Touch upon why your product or service is different from what your competitors are offering. List your benefits and features and explain how they differ from what your competitors are offering. Use tables and check marks to illustrate your point.
- What is your solution?
This is probably the most essential part of your presentation. What’s so unique about your product / service and how it will solve the issue you’ve explained in the previous slide?
For a better effect on the listeners, keep it short, straightforward and easy to understand. There’s no need to use buzzwords and fancy marketing language. If you’ve tested your product or conducted a focus group research, (or research of any kind related to your actual product) you can add it to boost the credibility of your solution.
- Target market and audience
Of course, not every single person in the world will be your target market. Some day probably but not in these early stages of development. Be realistic about who you’re building your product for. Develop a user persona. This will definitely help your investors visualize what the potential future customer base would be like. Moreover, it will be easier to speak to a named individual in a quick pitch. Don’t stick with a broad demographic as it’s less personal.
- Business Model
This is the information your potential new investors are mostly looking forward to knowing. How will they profit? Be specific about the price of your product. Emphasize how the market will be eager to have your product.
- Team accomplishments
Build credibility by taking some time to share your previous success. You have the opportunity to impress your investors with what you and your team have accomplished up to date. During this slide, you can talk more about product launches, sales experience, relevant contracts, key hires and more. Focus on what you’ve done but also make sure to explain where you’re going. Include a roadmap and milestones and how funding will help you achieve your goals.
- How will you reach your customers?
This is a must-section to include though it’s often skipped. What’s the marketing and sales strategy? How will you reach your customers and how much will it cost?
Calculate the user acquisition cost. Explain how you intend to let your customers know about your product. What marketing channels and strategies will you use to advertise it? Present an example of an ad, press release or any other reach-out messaging. You’ve already established who your ideal customer is. Show the investors how to capture a client’s attention.
- What are your funding needs?
So far, you’ve probably touched upon this subject a couple of times but now it’s the time to clearly showcase how much money has already been invested and how much more you need to reach the next level.
Prepare a clear table of your financial needs, what each dollar will be used for and what’s the intended outcome. Don’t forget to mention the type of investment you’re seeking. Is it an equity round, a convertible note or something else?
- Exit strategy
If you’re looking for a large investment sum, investors would want to know what your exit strategy is. Do you plan on being acquired by another company, sale equity, management/employee buyout, liquidation or something else?
Illustrate your point with examples. Explain why it would make perfect sense years from now.
Now, you already know what to include in your pitch presentation. Crafting a powerful presentation, however, is not the only thing you should focus on. There are some other guidelines to follow if you want to succeed and get the investment you need for your business. Below are five general tips for pitching that go beyond the PowerPoint slides:
- Be relaxed
It’s easier said than done, that’s for sure. Unless you’re some sort of a superhuman, you’ll definitely feel a bit nervous before the pitch meeting. The stakes are high and the future of your business depends on the outcome of the presentation. Don’t worry, though – there are many techniques you can practice to help you feel relaxed and confident. Prepare your mind and body. A good workout a couple of hours before the meeting might do the trick.
- Dress for success
That doesn’t mean you should wear a suit and a tie. Dress as smartly as you can and make sure you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing. If you don’t feel like yourself with a sharp suit, get rid of it. Look presentable and wear something that won’t damage your self-confidence. Your client will surely sense that there’s something wrong solely based on your body language.
- Business cards
This might be the most obvious tip but sometimes while we focus on the big things, we forget about the small ones which are just as important. You should definitely have a stack of business cards prepared for everyone attending the meeting. Bring extra ones just in case some of the attendees wants to pass over to someone else.
Your business card should reflect your company and its values. If you’re in the process of preparing a template, do a research on how to design a business card that would get noticed.
- Tag team with a colleague
If you feel like the pressure is taking over and you need some assistance, don’t be afraid to reach out to your teammates and ask if someone can join you. That’s especially valid if some parts of the presentation are a little bit blurry to you. If you feel like the marketing or financial part would be better explained by someone from that department then you should definitely team up with a colleague. You can even synchronize your outfits and practice the presentation together. The good vibe and team spirit you’ve created will be felt even better by the investors.
Look for areas to improve regardless of the outcome of the meeting. Maybe you didn’t get the funding or something else went wrong, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for feedback. If the investors aren’t willing to give it to you, ask your teammates. Sit down together and review the slides, focus points and areas where you stumbled over. Think of every investor pitch as a learning experience. You can only get better.
Watch the following video to find out what’s the investor’s perspective on pitch meetings:
When it comes to pitching, confidence is key. We hope that the advice provided in our article will give you some of it the next time you go to a meeting with a potential investor.
Remember one thing – not every investor meeting will be a winner. There are numerous factors beyond your control that may affect the final decision. You will learn and improve your presentation in time and one day you will remember your first pitch meeting failure with a laugh.
Do you need a way to boost the productivity and effectiveness of your next business meeting? If so, try using Mombit – a revolutionary team meeting tool that keeps track of action items and it calculates the cost of your meetings. Mombit is also integrated with your work management apps effortlessly. It’s free so you can go ahead and try it out!