Have you ever wondered how successful entrepreneurs make their elevator pitches?
In a private event in Bali, I had a lot of fun and gained a tremendous amount of insight participating in a business simulation. In this ‘game’, we were given the opportunity to access large sums of money by securing support from two investors. Naturally, most of the attendees swarmed the richer of the two to inject cash into their businesses.
This investor was only available for a total of 3 minutes and it was clear that not everyone will be given a chance to pitch. Just like in the real world, a series of distractions were also introduced in an attempt to confuse the participants. As I approached the investor, a contender got ahead of me and began pitching his proposal. My heart sank as I began to worry about the time limit with the investor. All of a sudden a steady stream of negative “what-ifs” ran through my mind and I had to consciously tune it out to focus on my pitch.
I stood close enough to hear bits and pieces of his pitch. It was apparent that my contender had a well thought out proposal and a great product. However, the investor’s final reply to him was “I’m sorry but I get similar proposals everyday. Thanks, but I don’t have much time, I’ve got to go.”
Upon hearing “I’ve got to go”, I quickly stepped up and introduced myself. 60 seconds later, I secured a cash infusion of $198,000 for our business. Here’s how it was done:
1. Distinguish yourself from the masses.
You need to stand out.
The logical approach would be to gather as much information as possible about the person you are pitching to. Most people start with “I have a winning product which will make you millions” but if you are observant, you’d be able to deduce that he/she is probably receiving the same pitch dozens of times every day.
It is also worthy to note that although “making millions” is your top priority, it is likely not a multi-millionaire’s primary consideration. Instead, you might want to take the “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM) angle of approach by asking yourself the following questions:
- How can he/she relate to what I have to offer?
- What do I have to offer that is different from cacophony of the crowd?
- What type of investments does he/she typically invest in? How do I position myself in that category?
- What are his/her primary concerns when he/she invests and how can I address these concerns when I pitch my product to him/her?
In our particular scenario, my team and I happened to have had a few days to observe this investor prior to the simulation and we gathered that his priorities lay in inspiring and transforming lives. So I began with the opening statement “I heard you have a heart!” This drew a big grin from him. He was interested. He then replied, “I don’t know about a heart, but I have a lot of money”. I went on to describe how he could participate in a life-changing project, which could potentially benefit thousands of people. He sealed the deal and the rest you already know.
2. Present the Project.
Although you’ve built rapport with your investor, he/she has yet to agree to invest in you, so it is important that you detail your project succinctly.
Be aware that aside from primary personal goals, investors are also interested in profitable projects. So highlighting secondary gains at this juncture would be appropriate.
3. Have Clear Objectives.
Once you’ve cleared step 1 and 2 above, you are another step closer to convincing your investor. In order to secure the sum that you require, you need to communicate the financial commitments you need from him/her.
I would recommend that you have a Plan B and C prepared just in case your investor does not agree to your first proposal. In our case, if our investor had not decided to invest $198,000 in us, we had a fall-back position to re-negotiate for either an endorsement or a lesser amount.
4. Rehearse well the salient points of your pitch.
When the time comes to stand and deliver, if you haven’t prepared, you’ll fumble. Hesitate or sound unsure and you’re likely to be rejected as the rest of the world vies for his/her attention. You only get one shot, so make sure it’s your best one!
Thanks for reading everyone. If you like this article, feel free to share it with your friends and leave me a comment below. Have a great week ahead!
Photo Credits: Peng Joon