Jul 16, 2021

How to Pitch Your Ideas

Ah, the pitch. It’s the proverbial softball throw used to score your business a home run. It’s the conversation that opens the door to a customer believing you can solve their problems and lets you close the deal.Let’s talk about creating the perfect pitch to hit the ball out of the park every single time.

Types of Pitches

Pitches come in all flavors and sizes, and your first step is to identify why you are pitching. Are you trying to introduce your business? Plant the seed for a future conversation? Win immediate business?

Pitches typically are 1 of 3 types:

  • Cold pitch: The elevator and introduction pitches are examples of pitching to someone you’ve never met before.
  • Warm pitch: Introduce a product or service to someone you’ve had contact with who isn’t already a customer (e.g., a business peer or someone you’ve already cold pitched).
  • Recommendation: Pitching a new idea or additional products to an existing customer can be less “pitchy” and more of a suggestion.

It’s important to know if the pitch target is a consumer (B2C) or another business (B2B). A B2C pitch tends to be a shorter pitch process that engages the emotions of 1 person. With a B2B pitch, you may have to hold a discovery session before creating a pitch to understand the problem and who the decision-makers are. A B2B pitch tends to be a longer process from start to finish. And a B2B pitch uses logic, rather than emotion, as a primary part of its narrative.

Think of it this way. Suppose you are pitching personal fitness training services to an individual client (B2C). In that case, you have to understand what their goal is. Do they want to keep up with their non-stop toddler, fit into a pre-pandemic wardrobe, or live a healthier lifestyle? Your pitch appeals to their emotions (e.g., the joy of chasing the toddler without getting winded).

If, instead, you are pitching your services to a corporate HR department (B2B), then you must meet the needs of all the stakeholders. Emotions take a backseat to meeting business metrics (e.g., you need to show your services will increase participation in the corporate wellness program).

Basics of a Pitch

All pitches—regardless of the purpose or recipient—have the same essential pieces:

  • Introduction
  • Establish common ground
  • Solve a problem
  • Ending question
  • Close the deal
  • Follow-up

Introduction

This is the short and sweet part. Your name and your business name might be all you need here.

If you pitch to a group of decision-makers, consider including historical context such as how long you’ve been in business and how many clients you’ve served. This information allows those who weren’t part of the initial conversation to understand your business’s background.

Establish Common Ground

With luck, you can establish common ground. People like familiarity as it builds trust and promotes bonding.

If you have mutual business acquaintances, mention them. If you’ve attended the same conference, now is a great time to remind them.

If you’re pitching digitally, you can still establish a pre-pitch relationship. For example, consistently comment on the potential client’s social media posts or reshare their blog posts on your social media channels to create a connection.

Solve a Problem

This is the meat of the pitch. A successful pitch is all about solving a potential client’s problem. People care about their own issues—not about you, your product’s features, or your new service protocols.

Don’t blindly pitch. In baseball, opposing teams understand the statistics of a batter before they throw the ball. You need the equivalent (e.g., how long a company has been in business, their pain points, what their competitors are doing differently) before creating your pitch.

You also want to make sure the person you are pitching considers the problem something that needs to be solved. If a business’s founder is a CPA, they’d be unlikely to pay for your accounting services.

Similarly, time your pitch when they have the budget. Knowing the potential client’s funding cycle (e.g., the start of their budget year) can facilitate closing the deal. Depending on the client, you may even want to educate them on funding sources they could use to support the project.

Use your unique selling proposition (USP) as part of the proposed solution. Your USP is what your business is known for. It’s not your niche market. It’s what you do better than your competitors and what people think of immediately when they hear your business name.

Let Them Say Yes

Never force your idea on the potential client. Instead, invite them into the pitch by using the questions they ask as part of a collaborative process. If both sides of the pitch work together to create the solution, there’s more buy-in.

Give them a chance to say yes by ending your pitch with a question. One option is to use an obvious “yes” question such as “Wouldn’t your business benefit from reducing operational costs by 30%?” Or perhaps use a stepping stone question like “How about a 30-day trial to see this in action?”

Close the Deal

Remember that the “middle” of a conversation is forgotten territory. People tend to recall the first and last things they hear. Thus, you’ll want to include your key points at the end of your pitch.

If you aren’t closing the deal right then, plan a specific follow-up date. A potential client saying, “We’ll get back to you,” often means they won’t. Be persistent in following up but, of course, learn to accept “no” gracefully. Maybe your solution isn’t the right one today, but it could be 6 months from now.

When you get your “yes,” handle the negotiation process like a pro. Be prepared to meet demands, make concessions, and give the customer confidence that they made the best decision by choosing your business.

Follow-up

A successful pitch and signed purchase agreement is the end of an inning, not the ballgame. Follow through and meet the customer’s exact needs to stay in the game.

Providing excellent customer service helps create a satisfied customer. You can then ask that happy client to write a customer review that you can use in your next pitch.

Perfect Your Pitch

A successful pitch doesn’t just happen. It takes thoughtful preparation, practice, and revisions for each customer. The good news is the more you pitch, the easier it is to score a home run for everyone.

About the author

Katherine O'Malley
Katherine O'Malley
Katherine O'Malley is a contributor to the Sunrise blog. A technology geek at heart, she splits her time between traveling, freelance writing, database administration work, and implementing SEO on her travel blog. In her free time, she loves to research the challenges small-to-midsize tourist suppliers face and find ways that technology can help them out.

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