In all of history, great companies, great movements and great investments began with a brilliant pitch. Microsoft founder Bill Gates famously pitched “we’re putting a PC in every home and on every desk in America” when he recruited his first team members and early investors. Martin Luther King Jr pitched 17minutes of a “dream” he had and changed the way people thought about racial equality.
Warren Buffet invested into Gillet (razor blades) after he heard the pitch “the internet isn’t going to change the way people shave their face”.
So it’s fair to say that a powerful pitch is one of the top priorities for any entrepreneur. Here’s the 7 deadly sins that can turn your pitch bad.
1. Un-clear – No one really understands what you mean by a “cloud based, SaaS solution with a disruptive mobile interface” means. If a typical 12 year old can’t get a grasp of your pitch you’re unclear.
2. Un-credible – I’m not talking about “incredible” as in “awesome!”, I mean the literal sense of “lacking credibility”. This is about you and your team being the ones to execute. Yes we all understand that the world needs a giant solar farm in the desert but what makes me think you’re the one to get it done considering your background is running a coffee shop?
3. Un-insightful – Insight is about pinpointing a real problem and knowing all about why it’s happening and how it can be solved. A pitch that says “I like yoga and travel and I’d like to run yoga retreats” may be lacking enough insight to become anything more than a hobby that covers it’s costs (which might be OK if that’s all you want).
4. Un-exciting – Maybe your business is clear, credible and insightful but is it going to keep people up late at night? Tell me about the big vision or how you want this business to look in 100 years, give me something that makes me feel part of something special that’s happening.
5. Un-actionable – A lot of people have shared ideas with me that tick a lot of boxes but when I ask “what do you need next?” they don’t have much to ask for. People want to know what part they can play whether it be to invest, to buy the products, to become a marketing partner or to join as an employee.
6. Un-unique – Without a doubt any successful business will be copied. If you can’t say why your business will continue to be different from all the other “me too” businesses that will spring up behind you then I might wonder how long this is all going to last.
7. Un-prepared – You might have great answers to all these questions but if you can’t deliver a smooth, powerful response in that moment when you’re thrown on the spot, it’s all for nothing.
Creating a powerful pitch is something that happens to people who work on their pitch. A great pitch isn’t something that just happens, it’s something that happens when you get the right people in a room and you work, role-play, rehearse and improve it until it completely lights you up. When it lights you and your team up it’s time to see if you can have that effect on others!