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Pitching like a pro 2: Preparing your pitch

So, you’ve worked a small miracle and secured a pitch opportunity for your business? That alone is a huge accomplishment, as it’s not an easy feat. It’s important that to set time aside to prepare for this opportunity, as you may not get it again. Preparing thoroughly for a pitch means you can be confident and quick-thinking, which will help in landing your business deal. Below are the steps I take to ensure I’m “pitch ready” on the big day.

I’m Frankie Snobel, a drinks industry disrupter and founder of Tipplesworth cocktail kits, mixers and cocktails-on-tap, which was acquired in 2019. Across my career, I’ve secured meetings, developed relationships and signed deals with key industry movers and shakers – including major buyers, global brands and investors. And now, over the course of this series of articles, I’m going to share what I’ve learned with you about the art of pitching.

Research galore

  • If you are pitching to a buyer, know their customers to a tee. 
  • If you are pitching to investors, know what they’ve invested in the past and what they consider a success. Do they want a 5-year exit, do they want dividends?  
  • What is it that you can offer your customers/audience to fix a problem or make things better? Truly understand the problem and solution.
  • What is your USP (unique selling point) – why do you stand out from the crowded market? 
  • Understand the market, its value, its challenges.  
  • Know your competitors. 
  • Know what is trending. 
  • Know why this is your moment to shine.
  • Know what financial returns your target would want/expect – margins and sales volumes (buyers) and equity/payout (investors) – tap into your network for industry-specific info.
  • Know what investments will likely be expected from you – i.e. marketing budget/spend for buyers or new hires/advisors for investors.

Q&A guesswork

Predict what types of questions will be asked at your pitch and have your answers ready.  

For buyers, it can be commercial things like what’s your maximum production capacity and does the manufacturing site hold the appropriate certifications. 

Know your pricing, margins and make sure to give yourself wiggle room for negotiating. Some buyers will expect you to have a budget set aside for marketing with them – understand what your budget could be.  

For investors, it could be questions about your next employee hire and details of your 3-5 year plan.  

Remember you are likely pitching to someone that will make your business bigger, so they will want reassurance from you that you are prepared to grow and scale and that everyone will profit and your working relationship will flourish.

Tap into expertise (and expect to pay when it’s important)

Ask around your network to hear what questions others were asked at similar meetings. And consider hiring an advisor if the opportunity is a life-changer, as they could help you reach the top of your pitching game. I had a make-or-break corporate investment pitch and hired an advisor (who used to sit on their investment board) to help me prepare and offer feedback. This advice was invaluable and was the best money I’ve ever spent in business. I knew exactly what to expect at the presentation/pitch, so I could prepare in advance, properly and efficiently. It also gave me a huge confidence boost, which again helped me win the pitch. 

A bit of Miss Marple-ing 

Do a bit of detective work. I used to be a journalist, so am good at digging up info on people, which is very easy now with the wonders of the web. 

Find out more about the person whom you are meeting – previous job roles, what key projects they’ve worked on, their interests, etc. See if you have anything in common, and think of ways you can subtly tap into this on a professional level when you meet (but without coming across as a creepy stalker!). Maybe you admire some of the projects they’ve worked on or you went to the same university. 

Common ground can be a great ice-breaker when you meet.

Practice makes perfect

I like to write out key bits of pitching dialogue (elevator pitch stylee) onto cue cards, to help me get comfortable verbalising everything I need to say – succinctly and in a limited time period. Read this out a gazillion times until the words flow easily. And call in friends or family for support to listen and offer constructive criticism. 

The Scouts motto says it best – Be prepared! Yes, it can involve a lot of time and work, but the results could be life-changing for your business! So give your pitch the care and attention it deserves. 

What’s next? Tune into “Part 3 – How to Nail Your Actual Pitch” because the pressure on Pitch Day is immense. Here you’ll learn tips and tricks on how to shine on the day and better your chances of securing a deal.

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