Posted: Fri 15th Jul 2022
Given the opportunity, founders can talk about their business for hours. However, when delivering a sales pitch, you simply won't have that long. How do you know what you should cover in just a few minutes?
A sales pitch is more versatile than you think. Whether you're presenting a slide deck, a script for a phone call or the speech you give at networking events, it's vital to make sure you lay the groundwork with every pitch you deliver.
You should make it interesting, too. Simply relaying a series of facts and figures will fail to get your audience excited about your business. As a result, you'll struggle to create engagement, cause people to zone out and lose any shot of potential sales.
In this blog, we cover what to include in a sales pitch (and what to avoid), how to use storytelling to your advantage, and what makes for an effective story.
What to cover in your sales pitch
A sales pitch should be tailored to each audience you deliver it to, but it will cover the same general topics. These are the key components:
One of the most important sections of your pitch, as it's where you pull your audience in and make your business stand out.
Whether you incorporate interaction, shock, surprise or humour, getting a conversation started from the get-go means that people will remember your sales pitch in the long run.
Customer problem and solution
It's important to cover this, so that your audience is aware of the need for your product or service. Think about how they could relate to the problem – is it something they encounter daily? Is it something that's important to them?
Fail to cover this section and your audience might question why they should care about the problem, which isn't ideal when you're trying to sell a solution.
Market and opportunity
This is when you start to dig out the cold, hard facts. Talk about the market and how it's estimated to change. This can help to create urgency – if the market is growing rapidly, it may give customers an incentive to make a purchase sooner.
Make sure you include the right stats – being too generic or vague can backfire and make you seem less credible.
The detail of this section will depend on the length of your pitch.
Talking about traction validates your business, so it's a key component to include in a sales pitch.
Traction could include number of sales, number of repeat purchases or customer testimonials. Essentially, you want to demonstrate that people can trust your business to deliver.
Even if you're pre-launch or you've only recently launched, you can prove traction via:
meetings with key partners or suppliers
social followers, e-mail subscribers or website sign-ups
a pilot, successful demo or beta test
customers or users
Discussing your team gives you the opportunity to prove you have the right people to let your business thrive.
If it's only you, use this time to demonstrate why you're the right person to do business with. You can cover your personal experience, plus any support you're receiving from mentors, programmes, industry experts and so on.
You likely won't have long to cover this section, so a short sentence or two will suffice.
Round off your pitch with a clear call to action and let your audience know what you want from them.
For example, you might want to book in a more in-depth call or invite them to a pop-up stall you're hosting to test your product.
What you should avoid doing
So, we've covered what you should include in your pitch. But what should you not do?
Be too generic
To really engage your audience, you need to get into specifics. Remember who you're speaking to – what would they be interested in? What can you do for them? Avoid speaking about your business too broadly and losing their interest and, ultimately, a sale.
Go into too much depth
Seems contradictory, right? But you also want to avoid making your pitch too complicated. Avoid technical industry jargon and don't get too into the nitty-gritty details of your product (unless someone asks you for more details!).
If your pitch has too much information and lasts too long, you will probably cause your audience to zone out.
Talk badly about your competitors
It's normal to want to prove that your product or service is better than others. However, it's crucial to avoid talking negatively about the competition.
Doing this won't prove your business is the right option for the customer – instead, it can make you seem unprofessional and you'll likely fail to impress whoever you're speaking to.
Talk about yourself too much
To pitch your business, you need to explain what it does and what you've achieved so far. For start-ups, that often includes talking about your personal story.
Like the level of detail to include, it's a fine line to walk. Avoid talking about yourself too much in a pitch and keep an eye on the number of 'I' statements you're giving. Be succinct instead and focus on the product and your business.
Think your pitch is perfect
There's no such thing as the perfect pitch. There's always room for business owners to develop and improve.
Take stock of what works and what doesn't – what makes people prick up their ears? When do people start zoning out? Continue to refine it as you go.
Don't forget that writing a pitch is only half the battle too. So much rests on delivery, so keep on practising: in front of the mirror, to your friends and family, and so on.
Entering start-up competitions like The Pitch can also help you work on your pitch. You'll get honest feedback from peers, advice from industry experts and practice delivering it to large audiences.
The power of storytelling
As the old saying goes: facts tell, stories sell. Incorporating storytelling can transform your pitch from a bland, boring speech into an interesting narrative your audience can't help but get invested in. Reportedly, people remember stories up to 22 times more than facts alone.
Small businesses have a great advantage when it comes to storytelling. While many larger businesses change direction from their original vision, the small or medium-sized enterprise has a much easier time in selling its story to gain customers.
So our last piece of advice is, when in doubt, to frame your sales pitch around a narrative. This can help to boost engagement and get people invested in what your business has to offer.
Examples of effective storytelling
With an emotive and wellness-focused background to her business, Kay Suppamas has a beautiful story behind her brand, Leafage.
Supplying terrarium kits and team workshops, it's easy to identify the business story: with city dwellers having limited access to nature (the problem), there became a need for connecting them back with nature (the solution).
Superfoodio creates plant-based treats for 'pleasure, people and the planet'.
Its narrative is particularly interesting as it combines three consumer trends: convenience, gifting and helping the environment. All of these help to make a great brand story that can resonate with the masses.
3. Chai Guys
Chai Guys started a journey back in 2018 to create the perfect recipe for authentic Indian Chai – something that was missing from London's Indian food scene.
With both co-founders having their own motivations for creating the product (Gabriel had lived in New Delhi as a child and Abhilash's heritage is Indian), the story behind Chai Guys is certainly a memorable one.
Improve your pitch and win £5,000 at The Pitch 2022
Feel inspired to work on your pitch? The Pitch is a free competition that gives start-ups the chance to improve their pitch, the support to grow and the platform to raise investment.
Apply now and you could be in with the chance of pitching to a panel of investors at one of our regional semi-finals. Make it through and you'll head to The Pitch Final, where there's a £5,000 cash prize up for grabs.