Fine-Tuning Your Pitch

Did you know that for 1,000 pitches an investor hears, he or she will likely only fund about 100 of them? That puts the odds of success at just 1 out of 10. Luckily, there are things you can do to maximize your shot at success in such a competitive world — namely, delivering a truly outstanding pitch that turns heads and opens wallets.

As you are building your business, a compelling pitch is an absolute must-have in your marketing arsenal. But developing and delivering a great pitch is easier said than done, and many entrepreneurs struggle to hit the nail on the head when it comes to pitching. Wondering how fine-tune your pitch to win business and gain funds from investors? Be sure to keep the following tips and tricks in mind.

Preparation Is Crucial

When walking into a meeting with investors to pitch you should be well prepared. Study their biographies and social media accounts, and make sure you can adapt your pitch accordingly. As part of this preparation, you should also practice delivering your pitch. And we don’t mean just practicing in front of the mirror the night before. Ideally, you should be practicing your pitch in front of real people until you have it down pat.

Keep Things to the Point

When it comes to delivering a great pitch, sometimes less is more. If an investor says you only have five minutes to pitch, then your pitch had better not go a second over five minutes, and you should ideally get it done in less. Time is of the essence, as whomever you are pitching to is probably short on time and eager to cut to the chase. No matter how brilliant your business idea is, it means nothing unless you are able to distil into a few concise but compelling points.

To keep your pitch headed in the right direction, make sure your stay on topic at all times and avoid any kind of tangent. Explain exactly what your product or service is and exactly what is unique about it. Be sure you can give a precise breakdown of your target audience and draw attention to how your product or service is relevant to your audience’s demographic and psychographic features. The more effectively and efficiently you can deliver this critical information in the pitch, the better.

“Great leaders are simplifiers,” world-renowned entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson told Forbes. “They can communicate to their entire audience in terms that are universally understood.” Branson said when he hears a long-winded speaker, “It’s all I can do to prevent myself from grabbing them by the collar and yelling, ‘Life’s too short! Get to the point.’”

The good news is that if the investors are interested, they will likely ask questions. And if they aren’t, you will have saved yourself (and them) some time by keeping things to the point.

Identify Clear Objectives  

You should be delivering a pitch with clear objectives in mind. Before you even walk into a meeting, you should be setting action-oriented goals that inform your pitch. The most fine-tuned pitches aren’t just a one-size-fits-all generic model. Rather, they are tailored to the specific objectives of a given situation, whether it’s trying to get an investor to sit down to have a more in-depth conversation with you or trying to get an investor to make a major investment in your business. Always think about what you want the outcome to be.

It’s Not Just About Talking — It’s About Listening

When pitching their business ideas, investors often make the mistake of getting so focused on what they have to say that they forget to listen. Remember, a pitch shouldn’t be a never-ending monolog — it should be engaging conversation. So don’t lecture at your investors, make sure you talk to them.

“The challenge is to make people believe in your business, to get them so excited about the product that they practically beg you to take their money — the ask is just a formality. Knowing the perfect moment to pop the question is a matter of practice, but here’s one general rule of thumb: Pay attention to what the investor is saying,” Ajay Yadav explained in Forbes. “Wherever their interest lies, listen. If they’re asking questions, it means two things: First, you have their attention. Second, they’re telegraphing you exactly what they want to hear — so be prepared to go off-script and give it to them.”

What’s so valuable about listening? Well, in short, it helps you understand an investor’s objectives and how you might align with those objectives. Listening is essentially an information-gathering process, and the more information you have to feed back into your pitch, the better.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make It Personal

When you’re pitching, you should try and tell a story. Investors inevitably get sick of hearing about valuations, numbers, and spreadsheets. Plus, they want to understand what is unique about you and your team, and what gives you the drive and motivation to succeed. And, believe it or not, research consistently shows that personal narratives are much more effective than just dry presentations with bullet points of facts.

“If we listen to a PowerPoint presentation with boring bullet points, a certain part in the brain gets activated. Scientists call this Broca's area and Wernicke's area. Overall, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. And that's it, nothing else happens,” Leo Widrich explained. “When we are being told a story, things change dramatically. Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.”

The bottom line? If you want to gain attention — and funding — make sure your pitch is structured and delivered as a compelling story.

Make Sure You Have a Negotiation Strategy

If you’ve pitched and it turns out an investor is interested, it is unlikely that you’re going to get an immediate “yes.” More often than note, you will enter into some kind of negotiations with the investor, so it is good to have a negotiations strategy in place. If you get an offer, don’t be afraid to counteroffer — even the most promising entrepreneurs can miss out on deals if they aren’t decisive enough.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Ultimately, pitching should be an enjoyable process — and the more fun you have, the more successful you will be. Investors want to give their money to someone with zest and passion, someone who truly enjoys what they are doing and has the drive to make it succeed.

“Fun is one of the most important — and underrated — ingredients in any successful venture,” Branson insisted. “If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else.”

In conclusion, developing and delivering a fine-tuned pitch is unlikely to happen overnight. But when it comes to pitching, practice makes perfect, as the saying goes. It’s unlikely that you will get your pitch right the first time around. But, with persistence, patience, and lots of practice, you can deliver a highly effective pitch. Consult with 10twelve today on fine-tuning your pitch and getting you ready for the big leagues!