If your a Social Entrepreneur thinking about selling your products or services to corporates (or other businesses) then at some point you’re probably going to have to deliver some kind of pitch or presentation to them in order to get them on board.
I have had this experience myself when I started my first social enterprise back in 2013 with my best friend Jen (go check it out at Solutions for the Planet I’m still involved as a Director and it’s one of the things I’m most proud of being part of creating).
We knew our target customers were big corporates in the energy, utility and construction sectors and that we had to go and pitch our idea to them in order to generate income. BUT I had never pitched anything before!
I suppose the closest thing I’d ever got to pitching was presenting myself as a viable option in a job interview. But that didn’t give me much confidence in being able to convince some ageing, male Directors that they should buy our services.
The reality is if you’ve never pitched to anyone before it’s absolutely terrifying.
So this blog is all about helping you prepare the perfect pitch so you at least don’t have to worry about the content and you can focus on what to wear, not getting a frog in your throat and organising the pitch in the first place!
Not knowing what to include in your pitch will no longer be a valid excuse for not setting them up in the first instance (yes I know that one of the reasons you’re telling yourself you can’t say yes to that CEO of that company who’s invited you in to talk to him).
Be clear of your intentions
The first thing is to be clear in your own mind about what you want from the pitch. What would be the ideal result of the meeting? What are you really asking them for? What do you want them to say at the end of the meeting.
It’s important to get the answers to these questions clear in your mind. Then start to imagine them happening.
I cannot tell you how important it is to approach a pitch with a clear intention and a positive mindset.
2. Agree and double-check the basics
I worked with a client once who assumed she’d be invited in to do a pitch but wasn’t 100% sure. She didn’t know who was going to be in the meeting, what they wanted to know or how long they were expecting it go on for.
Preparation is key.
Make sure you know exactly the purpose of the meeting you don’t want to prepare a 20 minute pitch only to find out that they wanted to ask you a few questions about something completely different.
If it is a pitch, ask who will be present (this is important for background context and if you decide to give any handouts).
Check how long they have and allow time for both your pitch, questions and discussion at the end. Usually a pitch between 5-15 minutes is more than enough time.
Have they asked any questions in the past have they indicated that there’s still things they’re unsure of? Make sure you build the answers to these questions in to your pitch.
3. Know exactly what you’re offering
There’s no point being wishy-washy. Get specific about what you’re offering (and know what you’re not).
Keep it simple and don’t bombard them with different options. An overwhelmed, confused mind does not say yes or buy.
At Solutions for the Planet we always had our simple, single offer but we’d also know what our negotiating boundaries were. We didn’t include these in the pitch we just had them in our back pocked in case questions arose around flexibility of what we were offering.
This way you’re clear going in to a pitch about what you’e willing to negotiate on and don’t have to go away and think about it or make a rash decision.
4. Structure your pitch in the following way
Welcome them or thank them for the opportunity to speak to you today
Introduce yourself very briefly (if they’ve never met you before it may be relevant to give more context and tell them a bit about your relevant background)
Start by telling them about the problem which you see exists. Explain how you understand the problem and connect this to things you know matter most to them. Use feelings, values, perspectives, beliefs or experiences to connect them to the bigger picture or seriousness of the issue. And provide evidence or data to back up your claims.
Explain the solution to them simply (not all the detail but the parts that will matter most to them and what they’re concerned about). Explain how you solve the problem. Refer to examples, pilots or case studies here to show it’s possible and demonstrate your expertise.
Explain how everything will work. Give them the details here. Anticipate their questions and answer them here. How much does it cost? How is it different / unique? What’s the added value? What happens if they agree, say yes or sign on the dotted line?
Summarise the change that will happen. Take your audience on a journey from A to B, from where they are now to where they’ll end up if they work with or buy from you. What difference will it make to them or your beneficiaries. Connect this back to the bigger picture, your vision and the initial problem you outlined.
Thank them for their time and ask if there’s any questions.
5. Follow up
Regardless of what happens in the pitch and afterwards always follow up.
Yes the dream would be for them to say “Yes we’re in, how do we sign up or make payment?” and if you get this then great that’s what you follow up with them about.
But if it’s not the dream end that you were hoping for then there’s still an opportunity afterwards. Maybe they need to go and speak to a budget holder, senior manager or another team member first. Maybe they still have some questions. The key is to not just ignore it. If nothing else you might get some valuable feedback about why they’re not ready to buy from you which you can build in to your next pitch (or market research).
Now there’s no excuse start planning your first pitch!
Find out more about how to pitch to corporates and find what they’re interested in by watching my webinar with Annie Moon: “What corporates are looking for from social entrepreneurs”