Selling is central to any business. And yet a vast majority of us find ourselves hard-pressed to sell our product or services when put in a room in front of a bunch of prospective investors or employers.
Delivering that perfect pitch is no easy task and failures can be devastating, both in terms of morale and your business/employment status. Not everyone is born with the gift of the gab. Though such inborn traits or talents can indeed help, they are not exactly necessary to develop an effective sales pitch. You may never become a master at it, but you don’t really need that. All you need to do is hone your skills as much as y ou can, and for that you need “the three Ps”: Preparation, Practice and Patience.
If you have already had a few failures in pitching under your belt, congratulations! There is no better place to start planning for your success. Here are a 3 steps based largely on the “three P” principles to help you improve on your past failures and nail your next pitch:
1. Assess your mistakes
if you have failed in clinching deals with pitches before, do yourself a favor and replay those moments in your mind. Unpleasant as they may be, they are nevertheless crucial for future successes. After all, those who don’t learn from their past mistakes are forever cursed to relive them. Learning where you went wrong can help you prepare yourself better. It could be anything, from a poor opening, to lack of time management, to even wardrobe faux pas.
The latter especially gets little attention in these days of casual chic. Though how you dress for the occasion depends on a lot of factors, if you can pull it off, a formal look is the safest bet any time any day. And this means suits for men and trousers/skirts and jackets for the ladies. If you do plan to go casual, just remember not to go overboard with it.
2. Prepare the perfect opening
Timing is everything when it comes to interviews and presentations. And it is one of the factors that lead to a failed pitch. If you spent minutes rambling on about your proposal in your last pitch, you need to sharpen up things. You have to hold the attention of your audience with the least amount of word as possible. And you need to be on the money from the get go. This is where a killer elevator pitch becomes essential. If you don’t manage to catch the attention of your audience in the first 60 seconds, you could very well lose them for good. Your elevator pitch should be a short, yet sharp introductory speech that highlights all the major points points without delving too much into the details.
Such a short pitch is meant to be an ice-breaker, something that can lead to more meaningful discussions. And it is not easy to craft. You have to practice incessantly to perfect it. Balance is crucial. Use everyday situations to your advantage. We all sell something or other as part of our daily conversations with other. Use social settings to try and hone your pitch delivery, among family, friends and even complete strangers if possible. The practice could prove invaluable.
3. Stay cool and “in the zone”
Now, this is easier said than done. But all the practice and preparation in the world will come to naught if you are stressed out when you deliver your next pitch. It is a given that stress will indeed be a part of the equation in these situations. But you have to actively address it if you really want to succeed. You have to project confidence if you want to win over your target audience of investors/employers. And that is not something you can pull off easily if you are all flustered and trembling.
You may be nervous because of the stress, but that presents itself as big red flag to your audience. Do everything you need to stay relaxed and self assured. Since each individual has their own “thing” we can’t really help you there.
Take time out before the big day/hour if possible. If you enjoy solitude, spend time alone. If you prefer company, hang out with friends. It is important to appear at ease, comfortable in your skin.
A Few Parting Thoughts
The perfect pitch is entirely down to a harmonious balance between powerful content and persuasive presentation. You can actually write entire volumes describing all the finer aspects that go into achieving this optimal balance. When it comes to content, you either have something that could be of value to your target audience or not, that is that. But delivery is something you can actively work on. How you present yourself and your ideas, within is a short window of time, makes all the difference between sealing the deal and facing rejection. And regardless of your finest efforts, you will inevitably have to face failure and rejection, that is a fact of life. The important thing is to learn from your failures and mistakes and to never stop improving.