Even if you intend to sell via agents or distributors, or license your product or service, you will still need to pitch your business. The following steps will help you plan your pitch.
Research your audience
Your pitch needs to be tailored to your audience. For your pitch to be successful, research the business or person you are approaching. Sources of information include:
- the internet / websites
- brochures, flyers, catalogues, newspapers, magazines and journals
- their Annual Report - it can help you to understand their goals and future direction
- suppliers and other companies who work with them
- industry associations.
Identify pain points and goals
An effective pitch directly addresses a customer's pain point. For example, the customer may have a serious bottleneck in their production line that your software can solve.
As you start forming a relationship with a customer, find out their goals - if they work for a large company they will have some benchmark goals they need to achieve.
If you know what is important to them, it is easier to address their goals or pain points in your presentation. Ensure that they are doing the talking and you the listening, especially earlier in the relationship.
Time your pitch
Timing your presentation can be crucial to success. Try to find out the company's budget, time frames and when they make decisions. For example, if their financial year ends in June, they may wait until early July to make decisions for the next year, as then they have access to the new budget. If you pitch too early, they may not be listening.
Alternatively, some organisations have surplus budgets left over towards the end of their financial year. They may have to spend these funds before the year end or risk losing them in the next budget round.
Offer credible solutions
Include credible and cost-effective solutions to challenges faced by the business you are presenting to. Always explain the benefits you offer from the customer's point of view. If possible, show them in cash terms how your product or service will:
- increase efficiency
- lower costs
- raise productivity
- improve profitability
- deliver better service.
How do you differ from your competitors?
One critical issue that any company will want to know the answer to is: 'Why should we do business with you?' Make sure to address this in your presentations. You will need to clearly communicate your specific points of difference and how this will benefit their company.
Tell a story
Telling a story linked to your topic, or the story of your company, can be a powerful way of communicating your message.
Don't forget to use the fact that you are New Zealand based, if it is relevant to your product or service. Many successful exporters have used compelling New Zealand based stories. For example, Icebreaker tells a story about the virtues of New Zealand pure merino wool transformed into fashionable but highly practical and efficient garments. Weta Digital plays on the Kiwi work ethic and creativity.
Think about using the royalty-free assets on the New Zealand Story website.
Build your credibility
Include credibility details in your pitch and supporting brochures or documentation. This helps build confidence in your business as a supplier and reduces the risk they might feel in doing business with you. For example, you can mention:
- export track record and achievements in your industry
- details of projects you have completed
- customer quotes
- quality standards and industry certifications
- awards won (if you have not won any, start entering competitions)
- your product or service guarantees.
Sources you might refer them to to back up your claims include your company brochures, website and presentation handouts.
Write a one-page brief
Your one-page brief should:
- tell your story
- define the problem you are solving
- outline your solution
- project your point of difference
- provide evidence of your credibility.
Finally, summarise all the points you've made into a one-page brief for people to refer to. This may sound easy, but writing one page on exactly what benefits you offer, can be harder than writing 10 pages.
Carefully select what you will include. Write a few pages and then cut it back. It's important for you to clearly and succinctly communicate the advantages your company offers.
The 30-second elevator pitch
A great marketing tool is the 'elevator pitch'. This is the verbal pitch you would make about your company if you were sharing a 30-second lift ride with the CEO of the company you are targeting.
In these 30 seconds, you have to convince the CEO you are worth talking to. This exercise will help you focus on the essence of your business and will give you the confidence to speak about your business to anyone at any time.
Training and help
You usually have only one chance to present, so make sure your presentation is professional and polished (including presenting your ideas, sketch boards, CDs, website demos, etc). If you lack experience in pitching, consider getting professional help. This may cost a few thousand dollars, but consider how much the additional future sales will be worth to you.
You may need help or training to:
- develop an effective presentation with supporting material
- negotiate contracts
- make and close the sale.