Ask The Pitch Doctor: How do I impress the board?
Q: I’ve recently started my own consultancy business. A customer has asked me to put a pitch together for their board. I'm terrified! How can I make sure I wow them?
A: Firstly, congratulations. It’s an interesting time to start a service business.
Currently your focus is on yourself – how you feel and what you think of your experience. But focusing on yourself won’t get you anywhere. In a crowded marketplace, you need to focus on how your client can benefit from tapping into your expertise.
Make sure you feel relaxed and at ease before you pitch. A little nervous energy is a good thing. But too much draws attention away from your message.
One of the easiest, quickiest and most effective ways to relax is to visualise a circle on the floor, about a metre across, in the location you’re going to stand when you pitch.
In that circle, imagine a colour that you associate with a feeling of relaxed, attentive clarity. Now, when you step up to pitch, as you step into that circle, you can imagine that you’re stepping into that colour, letting it wash over you as you relax into that sense of clarity and attentiveness. The key is to understand that you will feel that way only as you step into the circle. Practice it at home a few times, noticing how your feelings change as you step into and out of the circle.
Now, let’s turn to the seniority of the audience. Yes, they are human, just like you and I. But remember: every audience you’ll ever pitch to has its own unique needs and interests.
One of the characteristics of an executive audience is that their interest is in their business rather than your service. They will have seen loads of sales pitches over the years, so they tend to be less tolerant of having to work it out for themselves. Therefore, don’t talk about your services, talk about their business. That means you really have to do your research.
What you’re pitching isn’t your service, it’s their business, a year from now. Your service is simply the means to get there.
Let me summarise this into three simple tips for you:
Focus on your customer’s needs, not your own
Feel at ease during your pitch by stepping into your own "pitching zone"
Pitch what your customer needs to hear, not what you want to say
And finally, to paraphrase Albert Einstein, make your pitch as short as possible, but no shorter.
The Pitch Doctor, also known as Paul Boross, helps individuals and companies to create and deliver winning pitches, using his unique combination of business, psychology and performance skills to bring out the best in anyone. He is author of The Pitching Bible, which has hit the number one spot on Amazon and is soon to be followed by its companion guide, The Pocket Pitching Bible.