How prepared are you to give your sales pitch? What questions might be asked of you during your presentation? How much time do you have to make a first impression? Do seconds count? Convincing someone that what you have to offer is definitely a tricky balance between passion and facts. As a consultant I have said that I have to be passionate about the projects and products I am working on. Others have said I have to know for a fact that this is going to produce the dollars for the space it will take up on my shelves or the returns in the dollars invested. Dollars and space really do come down to passions. Is the end consumer going to be passionate about the product set before them?
Several years ago I received a phone call into my office. A well spoken man with a French accent began to tell me about his product and wanted to know if I might work with his company. (referrals are always nice) First impression, not having ever spoken to this person, he articulated his passion for his product in about two sentences. I asked him some very tough questions, which he did not stumble over. He answered one question with, “I am not experienced enough to know how to answer that questions, can I call you back?” I told him that it sounded like a nice product, he had done his homework, but if what he is saying is true, I would like some samples sent to my office for review. I had the samples within two days. He did have a terrific product and we worked together that next year.
Inventors, entrepreneurs, sales people, moms, dads, and every person who has a great idea does not always know how to map out the direction they should go. When it comes time to presenting your idea, no matter where you are at in the process, first impressions can make a difference. Are you teachable? Are you open to learning from those who have done it well before you? Ask a lot of questions and be prepared.
Practice over and over what you are going to communicate in the short time you are given to present your idea or product. Ask a friend or family member to sit and listen and have them give feedback. I personally go into my bathroom and lock the door. I will talk out loud and listen to the information I am presenting. I hold a 3×5 card and rehearse the information and the order to be given, so that I can be hands free when it’s time to stand in front of an audience. It does not matter if that audience is one or 500 I want to look into the faces of that one person who may be jumping on board. Time yourself until you have the time down to a science.
When you have practiced your pitch, ask those who have been your audience to ask you questions. Any question about the presentation, about the product, about you. The biggest stumbling block for us creative types is we are always in our heads with the information. We know it so well, that we often miss the important baby steps in educating the person listening.
How do you balance passion with the facts. You are standing before your audience because you have earned that place. The facts are very important to your audience. Have those facts prepared and ready. Your business profile, your research, your numbers, your direction, all important facts. It is not enough to be speaking passionately about your product or service if you have not laid the ground work out. Provide the information in a well written proposal or plan to offer your audience in a Power Point, or pamphlet. This may sound silly, but visuals are a telling story to any investment interest, buyer interest, showroom interest. If you do not yet have the funding to be in production invest in a prototype that clearly lays out your product.
I just met a man this past week. He handed me a sample of his product. I asked, “Is this for just showing me or to keep?” His response was, “oh no I would love for you to have this.” His product is sitting on my desk today. I was impressed how being fairly new to this side of business he too was able to “present” his product with words and with something tangible. In that moment I was his one man audience. This was not a formal meeting, but this man simply is interested in learning what others have to say about his product and is going about it the right way.
Seconds do count. Every second you are given to talk about your product is your rehearsal for that big moment. That moment when you stand before an audience that makes a decision for or against what you have worked so hard on. Some of my best successes have come from very firm NO’s in my life. No, never meant anything more than, I need to do this better.
This may seem simple and very elementary in delivery, however it’s not if this is your first go at going before an audience to share your product or service. Standing in a trade show, standing in front of those who might have an interest investing, and standing among strangers to give your best pitch. Your future depends on that sales pitch and how you make that first impression. Your ability to answer questions to educate further. Answering with confidence and boldness. Even being honest if you are not able to answer. Most audiences can see through a bunch of baloney. Don’t lose your passions. It’s what got you here in the first place.
If you are at the front end of your product development or idea and have question feel free to email and send me question. My personal passions is seeing companies do well, no matter part of the process they are in.