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Fail Fast. Start-Up Mistake #2: The Poor Pitch

Posted by Jessica Gulick on April 7, 2017
Fail fast has become an innovation mantra in the digital age, the idea being to adapt products quickly to the market or cut your losses. However, as an owner or founder, your capital and your professional reputation are tied up in your new venture, so failure is not an option. In this blog series, we look at start-up mistakes that can cause you to fail fast...and not in a good way.

You worked hard to generate this meeting...unfortunately, your prospects’ attention has shifted to their watch. Did you lose them at map of the world or the matrix of logos? Sadly, your sales pitch was a very fast fail – the prospect tuned out before the barista even finished preparing your coffees.

After working for weeks or months nurturing prospects into taking a meeting, too often I hear of how these start-ups tossed their chance in the dirt with a wild pitch. These well-intentioned execs spent half, if not more, of their precious buyer time talking about how they got into business, who they are and why they started the company. Maybe if they had a polite audience, they were able to move to the other half of the presentation with the technical details of their solution. <Yawn>

Classic mistake. Your prospective buyer isn’t really there for you (or the coffee), they’re tuned into WII-FM….what’s in it for me.

Connect with your buyer.

Your pitch should focus on the buyer. Period. It’s about them, not you. You may start pitching the problem or idea. Then move to pitching the solution. But don’t get lost in pitching the company. Design a pitch that provides insight (value) not just sales chat. You have five minutes, if that, to relate to them, communicate value and reach the a-ha moment. Otherwise the meeting is a waste of their time. Plan it in.

Swing and a miss.

You’ve delivered your pitch. Take the time to stop and ask, “Does this interest you?” after the intro. If not, ask what they were looking for and help them find it. Build relationships. Stay in the game. You can evolve your pitch, especially as your product and business evolve, to ensure your deliver valuable insights. But don’t assume you’re hitting the mark.

Use home field to your advantage.

What you say in your pitch matters, but don’t forget how important it is to frame it. If you’re taking advantage of an industry event to catch-up with a very busy prospect, you may be tempted to leave the show floor and meet at the nearest coffee shop. Don’t. To get your prospects undivided attention you need to choose your setting wisely so that you create home field advantage. Quiet and away from hissing cappuccino machines and former colleagues just dropping by to say hi. 

Growth hackers for hire.

Looking for a pitching coach to work on your mechanics? Let’s talk. At Katzcy, we’re proven growth hackers and offer a broad portfolio of services including market strategy and planning, brand development, market assessment, and campaign management. Whether starting up or scaling up, we’ll help you discover ways to compete effectively and accelerate your success.

Topics: Long-Term Growth, Growth Hacking, Innovation, Start Up

Written by Jessica Gulick