While most of your business plan exists behind the scenes, your sales pitch is in the spotlight. Marketing strategy, web design, and production all exist behind the scenes; that’s for you and your team. However, your sales pitch will be one of the first things to go public, so take the time to learn and master this important craft.
What is a sales pitch?
A sales pitch is a 30-second presentation about you and your business that grabs the listener’s attention and makes them want to know more. It’s sometimes referred to as an “elevator pitch,” because it should last approximately the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator with your target audience.
Who is that audience? Potential investors. Potential business partners. Mentors. Clients. Basically, anyone who can help you succeed with your business.
Of course, there will be times when you have more than 30 seconds of someone’s attention. However, it’s helpful to master the skills that break down your pitch into a tight 30 seconds so that it’s ready to go wherever and whenever you meet a potential audience.
The perfect sales pitch conveys:
- Your business idea
- Your unique skills that make this idea possible
- The earning potential of your business
- Who will be helped by your business
- Why your audience should care
For a 30-second window of time, that’s a LOT to accomplish. Because the Kantner Foundation loves helping young entrepreneurs, we’re here to break down what you need to know and how you can master a sales pitch that works.
Why a pitch is important
The people listed above – potential investors, clients, etc. – are busy. If they are already well-known in your field, they likely have would-be young entrepreneurs tugging at their attention all the time. A well-crafted pitch gives you the edge you need to rise above the others and get heard.
A successful sales pitch shows that you are prepared: you didn’t wake up this morning and decide to start a business. You’ve done your research and you know what you are talking about. Even if you are a start-up with zero experience running a business, your sales pitch should show how much hard work you’ve already done to get up and running.
The people to whom you pitch should want to get to know more by the time you’re finished speaking. If you’ve done this right, you’ll have new investors, mentors, etc. Instead of seeing you as just another wide-eyed kid with too much energy, they’ll want to be part of your road to success. Thus, you’ll increase your earning potential and visibility in the market.
What makes a good pitch?
- First of all, introduce yourself and grab your audience’s attention.
Not in a startling or intimidating way – you’re not trying to scare people off! A popular way to open a sales pitch is by noticing an existing problem or area that needs improvement. This should be a legitimate problem: your neighborhood doesn’t recycle; the adults around you don’t understand social media; your friends always lose their keys. These are real problems that real people have in real life. Your audience can relate. In fact, depending on your audience, they might have the exact same problem.
You can switch up whether you introduce yourself first or mention the problem, but those two things generally always stay at the top of your pitch.
- While it may be tempting to try and impress established professionals in your field with a lot of business jargon and buzzwords, in a word: don’t.
The point of your pitch is to stay concise, and buzzwords will kill that goal. Every single word of your pitch has to count, so avoid empty words and phrases like, “optimize” and “move the needle.” Remain focused on your specific business goals.
- At the same time, don’t use slang.
It’s unprofessional and not everyone will understand what you are implying.
- Be clear. Be concise.
A 30-second pitch is not the time to show off your impressive SAT-worthy vocabulary. Without letting yourself become unintelligible, use shorter or fewer words. Go macro and stick to the idea as a whole.
->Instead of saying: “By creating a recycling system for our and other nearby neighborhoods, we can help homeowners manage their garbage, provide them with the service to take their recycling away, and save the environment.” (32 words)
->Try: “My recycling program will save the town money and help us go green.” (13 words)
- Inspire your audience.
Think about what inspired you to start your enterprise. Was it a desire to help your community? The challenge of creating a more efficient service? Providing a better product?
What inspired you can inspire others. This part of your pitch is where your emotions come into play. Don’t cry, beg, or go overboard, but do let your passion shine through. Your goal is to get others as excited about your idea as you are so that they’ll want to follow-up with you, give you money, or otherwise help you.
Practice, practice, practice
Write down your sales pitch. Run it through grammar checkers and online editors. Cut out any unnecessary words.
Read it out loud. How does it sound to you? Are you tripping over any words that can be cut or changed?
Practice pitching to friends and family. While they may not be totally honest with you to spare your feelings, they are a good first audience. If you are able, practice some more with actual professionals in your field who can offer valuable advice.
Memorize it. The second you see someone you want to pitch to, you should be good to go, not struggling to remember what you have to say.
The art of the pitch is one you will hone throughout your entrepreneurial career. As you get better at it, it’ll become second nature and won’t seem quite as intimidating as your first one.
The Kantner Foundation is proud to offer college scholarships to Florida’s high school entrepreneurs. To learn more about our program, and to start your application, click here.