How to Always Pitch A Strike

by Alan Siege - Date: 2007-01-20 - Word Count: 638 Share This!

As business owners, we are always working on new ways to convince people to become customers, clients, employees, partners or investors. In each case we are "pitching" our business. The language may change, but in every case we want the person to whom we are presenting our business to listen and act. For owners of businesses large and small, it is imperative to learn how to do this in an effective and forceful manner. And, being that we often have a limited amount of time to make a powerful impression, we must be ready with a concise and inspiring description of how our work deserves greater attention. So, if you see the person that you're trying to reach standing in line for their morning latte or working out at the gym, take advantage of the time to pitch them. Once you've gotten their attention, you have to be ready with your pitch.

Here are six elements of a good elevator speech:

1. Get their attention. Start off with a bang: Open the conversation with a question that leads into what your business does. For example, if your product is new spam-blocking software, you could say, "Aren't you tired of getting spam no matter what blocker you use?" Or if your service allows customers to buy furnishings seen on TV shows, you might say, "Wouldn't it be great if you could buy the furnishings you see on some TV programs?" Then answer your own question. "My team has written a program that..." or "My company has developed a website that allows you to..."

2. Be a solution to a problem: The features of your solution are less important than the benefits. Make sure you give your target customers real-life examples of how your product or service will improve their business. It's something they've just got to have. Example: "Our new color-flashing toothbrush encourages kids to brush for a full minute."

3. Speak in plain English: Talk to them the way you'd talk to a regular person. Even if your product is complex, you'll lose your audience if you use MBA-speak or technobabble. And don't be afraid to be passionate about it.

Example: " offers entrepreneurs and investors an interactive method for investing capital in pre-IPO companies. We offer a community that breeds interaction, education and discussion."

4. Tell them what they want to hear: Explain how it will make money; tell who is behind the company and frame the competitive landscape and your advantage in it.

Example: " drives traffic to the site by linking to other websites catering to the construction industry. Over 90% of construction workers have these three traits: 1) They have a favorite brand of boots, 2) they know their size, and 3) they hate shopping at stores. Most construction workers prefer to buy their boots online and have them delivered."

5. Tailor your pitch to your audience: Each person you talk to is different. If you're seeking a partner or an investor, you should know something about them or how their firm works. If you're approaching a stranger who could become a customer, focus on how the product or service will make their life easier.

6. What do you need to make it happen?: This is where the "rubber meets the road." What funding do you need to make it happen and what is the projected return on investment? Not only does having this info force you to be specific, it will give the person further proof of your seriousness and professionalism.

Example: "Right now, we're seeking $500,000 of additional funding in exchange for a 30% ownership stake in the company. If we hit our numbers, we expect to be able to sell to a 'brick and mortar' retailer within three years."

Be creative, but be prepared. And remember, pitching is a skill, and like any skill, it takes practice to get it right.

Related Tags: presentation, pitching, impression, elevator speech, listen and act

Alan Siege is owner and principal of Small Business Management Consulting (SBMC), which offers a wide range of services for individuals starting a business and small business owners who want to better manage and grow their business. For more info, visit, or contact Alan Siege at 718-768-1672 or

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