It could be that no one really wants to catch whatever it is that you are pitching at them. Or is it slinging at them? This post may be news for startups in search of funders.
Did you ever think about your “pitch” that way? News flash: Potential customers and investors do.
With everyone pitching all sorts of stuff in their direction, the person on the receiving end just might want to duck, for starters. And then run away from you. Plus, you might miss your target, entirely.
Some of you are probably thinking about your “pitch” or “demo” slide deck right now, as you are reading this post.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some incredibly fine pitch folks out there, for sure. Except that what they call a “pitch” really is a business development art form. They know it, I know it. Kudos to them!
They are artists in the pitch category. And they are too few and far between at best. Sigh….
“Pitching” is nothing more – or less- than the art of creating a compelling reason for doing business with you.
Unfortunately, the art of the pitch is still defined by that status quo word: “pitch.” Wherein lies the problem.
The folks who really get it are confined by yesterday’s semantics.
There still are far too many folks out there pitching their stuff at potential customers and investors the same way their predecessors did in the post-industrial era.
News flash to the folks who are coaching their venture capital portfolio or sales team in this manner: you are out of date. Move on.
The folks you are asking to “pitch” a la old school don’t feel very comfortable using that style of pitching. You are asking them to assume strange and unnatural sales positions. Start-up CEOs, entrepreneurs and even your current sales team feel like stereotypic sales people: manipulative, disingenuous. Unauthentic.
The folks who are pitching feel they don’t sound like Who They Really Are. It’s as though they are being asked to speak a completely different language when all they want to do is tell their story.
Which is what pitching really is all about, isn’t it?
It’s storytelling in the finest form. It’s the hero’s or heroine’s quest, except that you as the entrepreneur, sales person, or start-up, are in the title role. Your story is full of self-doubt, trials, tribulations, pain, drama, enlightenment, learning, self-acknowledgment, epiphany, inspiration, relevance, and value.
It’s not about features, benefits, and apps. It’s not about meeting your quarterly sales quota to please them. It’s about what is relevant to your customers.
Why would you ever want to status quo “pitch” to anyone? Tell your story, in your own words, instead.
Potential customers and investors are buying into you, not your products, services, or platforms. You are the interface between all of your company’s stuff and its relevance to their concerns.
If you are out there networking and spieling and waiting for the person you are speaking with to say some trigger phrase, which upon hearing you launch straight into your sales pitch, please please stop!
Listen to yourself.
Would you want to invest in what you are being told to pitch at them?
I didn’t think so, either.
So go ahead. Tell your story.
Be comfortable with yourself. Your prospects and investors will be too.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.