April 9, 2014
Whether it is an internal request or cold calling, pitching can be a nerve-wracking and difficult task. Basically, you have to convince someone to add something to their to-do list, or take out his or her wallets and donate to a cause. However, it has been done, and done successfully. Here are five steps to nail the perfect pitch:
Do your research. Find ways to integrate your pitch into the person or company’s culture or lifestyle. Bringing up past connections is always helpful, along with a positive reminder of that experience. The ties that bring them closer to your pitch will help you get a meeting with them or get them initially interested.
Be friendly. Once you get a chance to talk or meet, be sure you have a friendly and positive attitude about the interaction. When asking someone to take time out of his or her day for you, it is polite and makes the conversation enjoyable and easygoing.
Prepare. Anticipating possible questions, having details ready to go and knowing your pitch inside and out can make the meeting successful and smooth. Think of yourself as an ambassador for your company or organization, in that you need to know important details and how to answer questions. If you are leaving your meeting with a bunch of unanswered questions or unclear details, your contact will be unsatisfied and probably not follow through.
Be clear. Have your key message points ready to go. Tell the person why this is important, the relevance to them and their company, the benefits it can provide and how they can participate. These are all points your contact will want to know, and will make them feel secure with the partnership. Leave something tangible behind so the contact can look over your materials, and think about your pitch thoroughly.
Follow-up. No matter the outcome of the pitch meeting, be sure to follow-up with your contact. A thank you if they accepted, along with an inquiry insuring success. A follow-up is obviously required if your contact is still pondering the decision to offer any more insight or answer any questions. If the contact rejects the pitch right away, follow-up to keep the conversation going in order to help with future pitches.
Though no pitch can be completely predicted or broken down to an exact science, the research, personality, planning, clarity and follow-up can make all the difference when making your perfect pitch.
Allison Evans is a junior studying Strategic Communications. You can follow her on Twitter @Allison_Evans.