Nailing your business pitch is the first step towards securing the money you need to get your start-up afloat, release a new line, diversify your offering or whatever other goal you may have.
It can be an incredibly nerve-wracking experience; a lot of pressure is often riding on your pitch, as it can be the deciding factor that determines whether or not you can begin, resume or continue production.
At Leading Edge Only, we’ve seen a lot of business pitches, and given a fair share of our own. We have created a platform that partners businesses across the globe with innovative solutions to their problems. Both parties require an excellent pitch to convey vital information and sell their services, and so we’ve seen the very best and the very worst of business pitches.
To help you understand how to pitch to investors, and how to develop a bespoke strategy that guarantees success, we have curated a list of 17 things that you should be doing during your pitch. From looking the part to relaying the right information, we are practically handing you a business pitch template to make that first meeting go as well as possible.
What Is A Pitch?
A pitch is a presentation conducted by one or more people. While it can be an email or spontaneous conversation, it is most commonly a pre-planned, well-organised demonstration complete with supporting imagery, documents and artefacts. The main purpose of a business pitch is to secure investors for your business, so that you have the necessary funding for whatever you are trying to achieve. A pitch is a call to action, which helps you gain the attention and funding that you require.
How To Pitch Your Business To Investors
Using these top tips for an effective business pitch, you are guaranteed to receive the undivided attention of your audience, and really get through to the people that matter. While our advice will undoubtedly prove to be beneficial, it’s important to note that it isn’t all encompassing. For comprehensive guidance tailored to your business, you should seek the services of a strategy manager or pitch consultant.
It almost goes without saying that you should have a thorough, complex understanding of your pitch and everything that it entails before approaching investors and arranging for a meeting. You only have one opportunity to pitch to these people, and so you need to make sure that it counts, by being able to impress them and answer any and all questions they may have (don’t worry, we’ll cover questions shortly).
A lot goes into being prepared. Being prepared means having all of the necessary knowledge and all of the required materials. It also means that you should practice- sell your pitch to your colleagues, your friends and your family. This will allow you to develop a kind of rhythm and tone, and also allow you to identify any areas of improvement or places that need tightening up. This attention to detail will benefit you hugely during the real pitch, as it means that you are wholly prepared and can focus on charming, persuading and engaging with the investors.
A well-designed, visually appealing pitch demonstrates that you have spent time and energy in perfecting what you have to say. It shows that you care about what you are doing, which can in turn make your investors care. An appealing pitch is also more engaging, and easier to follow.
Honesty is, without a doubt, the best policy. It is important that when pitching your business, everything that you say is factual and can be checked and confirmed. Lies and omissions make poor foundations for any relationship, but especially for productive and professional business relationships. It is better to communicate openly and transparently from the beginning, to avoid any misconceptions or misunderstandings and ensure that all parties are privy to the right information. Anything less can permanently damage your reputation.
Throughout your pitch you need to be exact: provide specific information, clearly outline your vision, and use relevant metrics to reinforce what you are saying. Some areas to be mindful of, where you should strive to be as precise as possible, include:
These are just some of the things that you need to be really exact about. Doing so will make your pitch more realistic, and help investors to better envision and understand where their money is going and what it is doing.
While it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be doing your pitch in an elevator, and the opportunities for these kinds of spontaneous pitches are becoming increasingly rare, there is still a lot that you can learn and implement from these pitches of the past. An elevator pitch is a short, persuasive speech, and these are the two core elements that you should take into your next business pitch.
Ensure that you are being timely and to the point. This means that your pitch should have a precise subject: ideally, you will be pitching a solution to an identified problem. The most important thing is that you don’t stray away from your subject, or go off on a tangent. This could be damaging to your pitch, as the investors may lose interest, feel disengaged or misunderstand your position. While you shouldn’t rush, the more concise you are the better.
Know Your Audience
Understanding who you are speaking to is almost as important as knowing what you are speaking about. This is because a successful business pitch is one that allows you to connect with your audience and establish some kind of relationship- these are people that you need to interest, persuade and follow up with because you need them on your side. How to pitch to investors depends on who they are.
You are likely already somewhat familiar with your potential investors, as you chose them for a reason. Best practice is to familiarise yourself with them as much as possible, both personally and professionally. Look at their LinkedIn profile and deduce what you can about them- their likes, dislikes, interests, experiences. All of this will help you to personalise and tailor your pitch, making it uniquely for them, which is something that they will recognise, appreciate and respond to.
Know The Competition
Demonstrating an awareness of your competition is equally as important as understanding your audience, because you need to show investors why they should choose you. You need to be able to stand out from the crowd, and provide clear reasoning as to why someone should pick you over someone else. This means that both what you are pitching, and the pitch itself, need to be streamlined, and the best of the best, so that they can withstand being picked apart and can hold their own against the competition.
There are a few ways that you can get to know the competition- the most simple of which is by googling them. Their website, social media platforms and LinkedIn profile are all great insights into what they are currently doing. A thorough competitor analysis will also help you to identify areas of improvement. You should convey how you are superior to your competitors throughout your pitch. The best way to communicate this is by being both detailed and honest- show what your business does or can do that others cannot. Doing this through charts or a competitive matrix can help you to appear authoritative and in control.
Incorporating relevant, realistic data when pitching to investors lends you authority and credibility, and suggests to investors that you know what you're talking about. It also demonstrates that your idea will work, and that it is a viable investment. Being vague and using estimates can be misleading and unconvincing, and give the impression that you’re not sure what you’re talking about. The kinds of data that you should consider include customer growth rate, average revenue, churn rate and development and production costs.
A big part of your pitch is not what you say, but how you say it. If knowing your audience is about forming connections with the investors, then delivering your pitch is about having them connect with you. You need your investors to be interested and engaged throughout your pitch, which means what you say and what you present, needs to be interesting and engaging.
It all comes back to the art of storytelling. Incorporating anecdotes can help your audience to relate to you and care about your subject matter. Creating an overarching story for your pitch, tailored to your investors, gives them something to care about, and makes them want to contribute or participate in some way. The same principles are applied to social media marketing- telling your business’ story and humanising your brand can help to turn your potential customers into paying customers, because this kind of vulnerability is appealing.
Presenting an in-depth business plan during your pitch can be useful, especially if it addresses both the present day and the future. A business plan demonstrates that you are proactive and forward-thinking, and that their investment in your business is safe and secure, because you have plans and protocols in place from the outset.
Your business plan should include a succession plan (which identifies possible replacements for positions of responsibility), a marketing plan, how you intend to approach organisation and management, financial projections, revenue models and more. While this level of detail isn’t necessary within your initial pitch, it should be evident that you have a thorough plan in place, and that you can make it readily available to investors if they so desire.
Dress For Success
To present a successful business pitch, it is important that you look the part. This will help people to take you seriously, and in some cases, it will be what gets you through the door. Dressing well can benefit you hugely, as looking good is guaranteed to make you feel more confident.
What you should wear for a business meeting is relatively consistent, regardless of your industry or location. It is important not to underdress or overdress, but to strike a balance. Underdressing suggests that you are ambivalent or lazy, while overdressing suggests that you are trying too hard or are inauthentic.
Know Your Revenue Model
A revenue model is part of your wider business plan, and details the income and income sources of your business. This is perhaps the most important part of how to pitch to investors, as they will be especially interested in how you intend to generate a profit, and thus provide them with a return on investment.
There are many revenue models to choose from, but it is important that you are incredibly familiar with yours. It should address market demand, possible challenges and areas which require additional funding, as these are the factors that your investor is interested in.
Use Of Funds
How to pitch to investors is dictated by how much money you need, how you plan to use it and what this is going to achieve. When presenting this information you need to ensure that you are being both relevant and realistic. If you have already secured some funding, you can use this as an opportunity to highlight who you already have partnerships with and why they have chosen you. You should also be reminding your audience why you are capable of managing their investment and doing so wisely.
Using physical and visual aids when pitching to investors can give them a visceral sense of your pitch, as well as make you more memorable- which is especially important if you are one of many meetings in a day. As long as the aids you use are suitable and relevant, they will likely be perceived as impressive, and as a marker of your diligence.
Having additional documents can prevent you from overwhelming your investors, as it gives them the opportunity to request the additional information themselves or to view them after the pitch. Useful documents include: an executive summary, technical documentation, detailed financial models, detailed market research and a pdf of your pitch deck. It is always better to be prepared, and have as much information available as possible, rather than to leave them with unanswered questions.
It is highly likely that once you have finished your pitch, your investors will have questions. In fact, not having questions could be a cause for concern. Prior to your pitch, you should try and anticipate the kinds of questions that will be asked. This will allow you to be fully prepared, as you can think of suitable answers ahead of time.
Some possible questions include:
When answering these kinds of questions, it is important that you are confident and competent. It is easy to be thrown off by unexpected questions, but as long as you enter the room feeling fully prepared, and that you appear outwardly confident, it is highly likely that everything is going to continue smoothly.
Your work doesn’t stop once you have finished your business pitch and left the meeting. An important part of how to pitch to investors is ensuring that you follow up, and that you continuously strive to improve.
Knowing when to follow up on your pitch can be difficult, especially if you did not receive any indication on the kind of time that they would need to deliberate. A good rule of thumb is to wait a week, unless it is time sensitive. This can also be your opportunity to present yourself one last time, and so you should also consider how you follow up. An email is the expected and traditional means, and for a good reason. However, you could also get a bit more creative: send a relevant case study, invite them for coffee, message them on social media- as long as your chosen method is appropriate, there is room for creativity.
Not all pitches are successful, which is the harsh reality of the business world. If your pitch is unsuccessful, you should accept this knowledge gracefully. Try and use it to your advantage, by asking for feedback, and using it as an opportunity for improvement and refinement. You can approach your pitch from a different angle, and the fresh perspective can be incredibly valuable when approaching new investors further down the line.
How To Pitch To Investors With Leading Edge Only
Knowing how to pitch to investors is just one of the many elements involved when growing your business. Further things that you need to know include where to find suitable investors and what to do once you have successfully secured funding. Although it seems complicated and intimidating, using the right channels and acquiring useful expertise can make it much easier, and a much more fluid process.
At Leading Edge Only, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to grow your business. Whether this entails overcoming business challenges, incorporating new innovations or developing an effective strategy, we want to help you change your approach to business for the better. We offer three tiers of challenge licenses, and monthly and annual payment options, which means that innovating your business is more accessible than ever before, and available to businesses of all sizes and budgets. Injecting new and exciting innovation into your business could be the boost ahead of the competition that you need to show prospective investors that you are worthy of their time and money.
If this sounds like something you’re interested in, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact us today by phoning +44 1234 756 015 or emailing [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you, and helping in any way that we can.