Guide To Business Pitching
Updated October 3, 2022
Business pitching is a common method for proposing new ideas and gaining support for them. As a working professional, you may encounter various opportunities to sell yourself and your ideas. Beyond advancing your career, knowing how to build and deliver a pitch can help you gain customers or investors for a business. In this article, we discuss business pitching and offer steps and tips you can use.
What is pitching in business?
Pitching in business refers to presenting business ideas to another party. For example, you may pitch your startup business to potential investors or your products to potential customers. A business pitch needs to give your audience a clear understanding of your plan or goals to gain buy-in. To do this, you must gather and share relevant research or provide a compelling vision. When you pitch effectively, you can motivate and persuade your audience to follow your idea and make it a reality.
Related: How To Write a Pitch Step by Step
Types of business pitching
You may develop or encounter various forms of business pitching, such as:
Pitching to investors or customers
Professionals commonly use business pitching to gain investors in a new or growing business or sell a business's products or services to customers. Here are a few different types of pitches used in these situations:
A sales pitch is a brief message that attracts your audience's attention and outlines your business plan or the products and services you offer. The goal is to make the audience invest in your business or purchase your products or services. "Elevator pitch" is another term for sales pitch because it should last as long as an elevator ride.
A pitch deck is a slide presentation that outlines your business plan to potential investors. This presentation should include research related to your product, competition, marketing plans and company finances. You need to provide a complete view of your company as it currently exists and the potential value it holds for investors to persuade their decision.
When speaking to customers, you can start your pitch with a series of questions. Your questions focus on the problems they face and how you can solve them. For example, you may ask them to name their most significant challenges. These questions aim to draw their curiosity and make them want to learn more about your offerings.
Pitching in the workplace
Workplace pitching borrows some of the pitch types used with investors and customers, such as elevator pitches and pitch decks. If you have an idea for a new project or initiative at work, you can use a pitch deck to outline your plan and demonstrate its potential benefits. To advance your career, you can use a personal elevator pitch to summarize your value as an employee when proposing a promotion or raise.
Another type of pitch you may use for career development is a job proposal. In a job proposal, you identify the need to create a role within your company or team to solve a problem. Typically, you make this proposal intending to fill that position yourself. Outline the company's challenges, explain how the new role can solve them, detail the role's responsibilities and describe the relevant qualifications and experience you have to perform them.
Pitching when networking
When networking, you can also use an elevator pitch to sell yourself to a potential employer or connection. In 30 to 60 seconds, this pitch provides an overview of the unique qualifications, skills or accomplishments that make you valuable. You want to make a memorable impression that could lead to new opportunities. After your pitch, try to offer a business card to provide a tangible reminder of who you are.
Skills required for business pitching
The following skills can help you when pitching business ideas:
A business pitch requires delivering messages clearly and concisely, whether written or verbally. Your audience may also pose questions or have concerns, so you also need effective listening and empathy skills. Persuasion and negotiation skills can aid your pitch, as you want to gain buy-in to your idea and sometimes need to make compromises to ensure everyone is satisfied.
Your pitch needs to provide supporting evidence for any claims you make regarding your business or product. Research skills enable you to gather and organize credible information so you can communicate it to your stakeholders. You can gather research from various resources, whether data collected internally or available via public, third-party sources.
Typically, your business pitch will outline how your idea, business or product can solve the stakeholder's problem. Problem-solving skills enable you to analyze complex business problems and use data, research or existing technical knowledge to propose appropriate solutions.
Some business pitches require speaking to groups, so being comfortable speaking in front of others is essential. To build these skills, you need to practice how you deliver messages using your tone and body language. If you know how to display confidence and connect directly with your audience, you can make your pitch more engaging.
When your pitch aims to solve a problem, you can use creative skills to develop new or innovative solutions. To practice creativity, you can ask yourself various questions to examine the issue from all angles. Experimentation is another creative skill, allowing you to test the possible solutions until you find the best or most attractive option.
How to develop and deliver an effective pitch
You can use the following steps during the business pitching process:
1. Conduct and gather research
If you are going to make claims during your pitch, you need to provide accurate data or research to support those claims. This information can help demonstrate your credibility and obtain your audience's trust. Research can also help you prepare to answer potential questions or concerns your audience may have.
For example, when pitching a product to a client, you will want to provide information about its features, benefits and how it compares to similar products in the market. You may also want to provide sales data or customer testimonials to demonstrate its performance thus far.
2. Understand your audience
In addition to business-related research, you also need to research your audience. Try to learn the individuals' backgrounds and interests to understand what motivates them. These insights can help you tailor your pitch and appeal directly to them. This approach makes your pitch more personal to them, which can serve as an effective motivation method. It helps them understand what they specifically can gain from your idea.
For example, try to learn about potential investors' other business investments. If they show an interest in tech startups, you can focus on technological advancement or innovation within your business.
3. Build a pitch
Now that you have data or information to support your claims and understand what your audience wants, you can start building your pitch. As mentioned, there are several types of business pitches you can use. Assess your situation to determine the most appropriate option. If you are presenting a business plan to potential investors, you may need to start creating a pitch deck that provides a comprehensive view of your concept. But if you are looking to make connections at a networking event, you only need to develop and practice your elevator pitch.
Related: Pitch Deck: Definition and Tips
4. Keep it focused
When presenting your pitch, get straight to your main message. Explain what your product, idea or business is, then demonstrate why it benefits your audience. The audience needs to understand and follow the purpose of your message to stay engaged. For this reason, it can help to start with an elevator pitch to provide a brief, easy-to-understand summary that attracts attention.
Focus your pitch by only offering the most essential and relevant information to your audience. This information varies based on the type of pitch you are making. For example, when pitching a business to investors, you may need to include details such as the amount of capital you need and the specific business activities it will go toward.
5. Share successes
Sharing evidence of your success can also demonstrate the value of your business or idea. For example, revenue or sales can show the market interest. Investors can see that your business can sustain itself and potentially grow, so they may get a better return on their investment. You can also share your successes in elevator pitches. Demonstrating the positive results you created for employers can show potential employers the value you can bring to their companies. You can also use successes at your current job to prove why your manager should approve your project idea or give you a raise.
6. Answer questions
At the end of your pitch, you can give the audience time to ask any questions or voice any remaining concerns. Respond to difficult questions in a calm, confident manner to demonstrate professionalism and make a positive impression. If you do not know the answer, be honest.
You can say something like, "That is a great question. I do not currently have information about that. Let me do some research after this, and I can email you within the next two days." Your audience will appreciate your honesty and willingness to provide them accurate information.
7. Follow your audience's cues
At the end of your presentation, use the audience's verbal or physical cues to assess what next steps you need to take. Depending on your situation, they may make an offer, express acceptance or want to negotiate. Prepare yourself for any potential outcomes to feel more confident when you reach this point.
For example, if customers appear enthusiastic about your product, you can start discussing setting up a contract or making an order. If they still seem unsure, you can offer them time to think. You may provide a specific date to follow-up with them for their final decision.
Tips for business pitching
To help support the success of your business pitch, you can use the following advice as guidance:
Use visual and interactive elements
Displaying data with graphs, charts or infographics is an easy way to add visual interest to your presentation. When pitching a product or service, you can further engage your audience by enabling interaction with it. This approach gives them a more tangible understanding of it and how it works. Otherwise, you can create a video demonstration.
Incorporate quantitative data
Use numbers as often as possible to support your claims. Quantitative data from credible resources shows evidence of the value and benefits you can provide. Numbers also add specificity, which can make claims more compelling. For example, demonstrate how your service has helped customers save an average of 25% each year rather than just saying it can help cut costs.
Differentiate from the competition
Investors and customers often want to know why to choose you over anyone else. Provide information that illustrates why you present more value, such as offering more features or showing the potential for more growth. When pitching for professional development, you can differentiate yourself by showing the specific and unique skills you can provide or accomplishments you have made.
Practice your pitch
Whichever type of pitch you need to perform, give yourself sufficient time to practice. Try to memorize it, so you do not need to rely too much on your slides or note cards. This ability allows you to focus on your audience and engage with them. Try to practice with other people to ensure you feel comfortable in front of an audience and gain feedback about your performance.
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