Let's say you find yourself in a room filled with startup companies, brilliant ideas and passionate people. Where are you? At an event with new and emerging entrepreneurs, who are showcasing their companies and products. A bright and shiny company booth catches your eye. You walk over and listen to the company's pitch. To your dismay, the company representative seems disinterested in you and fails to ask if you want a demo. You walk away feeling disappointment and maybe even a little bit of irritation.
Last week I attended the NEXPO event at Northeastern University, where 20 or so companies showcased their million-dollar ideas. I observed several pitches and several missed opportunities like the one described above. How can an entrepreneur nail a pitch and avoid turning off potential customers? Follow these guidelines:
- Approach the prospect; don't make her approach you. I found myself asking several company representatives, “So what is your company all about?” This should never happen. Proactively reach out to prospects with a smile and conversational questions like, “How are you? Are you interested in hearing about X?”
- Explain your company in simple, non-technical language. Explain your idea similarly to how you would explain it to your grandmother. If you want prospects to remember your company, connect with relatable examples or scenarios. Have your elevator pitch ready.
- If applicable, provide the prospect with a demo. If a prospect can see how your product operates, she is more likely to purchase your offering. While giving the demo, point out the differentiators that make your company unique and explain how your prospect can benefit.
- Carry business cards. I was really impressed with one company at the Northeastern event, and I asked for the rep.'s business card. The response: “We don't have business cards.” For most folks, exchanging business cards is still commonplace. When prospects attend trade shows or events, they are bombarded with hundreds of companies, concepts and products. If they like what you have to say, they will most likely ask for your card so they can follow up.
How do you successfully pitch your company?