Every business pitch needs to start with a “problem.” There’s something wrong in the market, and it’s causing anxiety, frustration and pain. Maybe it’s a customer need that is going unmet, or it’s a roadblock that simply doesn’t need to be there. By establishing the problem — or presenting this “problem statement” — you’re setting up how your business or idea will solve it, meeting that demand, winning customers and generating sales.
It’s easy to see why every pitch starts with a problem. It serves as the sharp, pointy end of the “hook” phase of the pitch, establishing a conflict that then demands some kind of resolution. As you explain the problem, you’re also laying the groundwork for the story of how your business plans to resolve that conflict.
A good example of this is ridesharing startup Uber. Continue reading
In the entrepreneurial world, there is a profound and definite need for telling the story of a business in the most succinct and compelling way possible. It’s not just about mastering the process of pitching to investors, lenders and potential partners, although those groups are important. The more powerfully you can present the case for your business to anyone and everyone, the easier it will be to do things like win new clients, attract top talent, and make connections with everyone else along the way.
Calling this kind of storytelling a “pitch” allows for a useful shorthand, but what we’re really talking about is creating a clear, concise narrative about why your business matters, and why other people should be paying attention. The same preparation that go into creating a great pitch also allows you to master the tools, methods and best practices for telling your story any time it really matters. If these techniques work during the high-stakes presentation of a formal business pitch setting, they will work anywhere. Continue reading
A successful business pitch doesn’t happen by accident. Like any great story, a pitch takes your audience on a journey, grabbing their attention and playing to their curiosity as you guide them from one stage to the next. This means laying out each element of the pitch in a very specific order, each step setting up the next so that the story unfolds in the most compelling way possible. Understanding this process is essential for anyone who hopes to master the business pitch.
In my last post, I explained the role of the “hook” in the business pitch. If you want to catch a fish, you have to bait the hook. In the context of a pitch, setting the hook means establishing your business narrative. They understand what problem your business aims to solve, how you will solve it, and why your solution is the right one. It’s about building a credible narrative while capturing their attention.
But there’s more to fishing than just getting a fish to bite. You also need to get them into the boat. That second phase of the process, where you’re reeling in the audience, is giving them what they need to truly accept the story you’ve presented. This is the “proof.” Continue reading
Thanks to shows like Shark Tank, business pitching is currently in something of a cultural golden era. Across the county, entrepreneurs participate in pitch competitions, delivering their most powerful appeals for funding in the form of a 100 minute, two minute, and even 30 second pitches. In a way that was unthinkable only a few years ago, pitching has become a “sexy” topic.
What’s more interesting to me, however, is that the sudden growth in interest around this fundamental entrepreneurial skill. The ability to effectively pitch your business or startup concept in any setting, over any span of time, and to any audience, is an ability every founder should actively hone. In fact, it’s an incredibly useful skill even outside the context of courting investors. Continue reading
When a business partnership goes bad, the results can easily rival even the messiest romantic breakup. Founders’ breakups are an all-too-common problem in the startup world, and most entrepreneurs have a story or two about the business meltdowns and broken friendships that happen when the people who started a company together no longer see eye to eye. I even have a pretty good one of my own.
But just because it’s a common story doesn’t mean that painful founders’ breakups are inevitable. Handled correctly, it’s possible to avoid many of the simple blunders that create high tension between founders. Let’s take a look at a few tips for avoiding the business-breakup drama. Continue reading
There’s a lot of wisdom that can come from a really bad breakup. Given a little time and some self-reflection, you can gain some pretty big insights into what not to do next time. While I’ve had my share of bad romantic breakups, the worst — and ultimately most insightful — breakup I ever had was as the co-founder of a startup.
Anyone thinking of starting a business with friends should hear this cautionary tale. Continue reading
If you’ve done your homework as we’ve talked about the previous “Four Ps of Sales,” you likely have all the information you need to determine the what skills you need as you grow your sales staff. You should also have a good idea what a reasonable level of compensation will be for the right salesperson. What those skills and compensation requirements will be completely depend on your startup’s needs.
Let’s say you’ve gone through each step in the “Four Ps,” and as a result you’ve created a clear sketch of your company’s sales needs. You’ve already done the heavy lifting of figuring out your sales process, and you’ve worked out the optimizations that allow for great sales performance. You’ve looked at your logistical needs, such as inside versus outside sales. You’ve even determined how much you can afford to pay for sales. Continue reading
It’s no accident that the last “P” in my “Four Ps of Sales” is “People.” To see the right results from your sales, you need to have the right process in place first. From there, you need to figure out your optimal sales performance, and then use that information to establish what you can afford to pay for sales. Only after you have all that in place can you start finding the right people to plug into the process.
Salespeople don’t define your sales process. They’re a resource within the overall sales solution. They’re a critical resource, no doubt, but they need to be a part of a larger, highly organized and optimized system. Continue reading
Now that we’ve established how sales compensation works, it’s time to get specific on the dollar amounts. What does a great salesperson cost? How much will it cost you to attract them, pay them what they expect, and deliver the right level of incentive to them on board? More importantly, what does this dollar amount mean as a percentage of each sale?
Let’s take a look at some examples of real-world sales compensation. I’ll be focusing on active selling, where the sales team’s job is to get out there and find prospects, and to turn those prospects into completed sales. This can mean anything from a phone-based process of generating leads and making cold calls, or it can be a field-based approach where the salespeople are engaging prospects face to face. Continue reading
Sales is a tough job. It might not be as physically tiring as construction work, but there are few jobs more mentally and emotionally taxing. Salespeople have to start up conversations with complete strangers (most of whom don’t want to talk to them in the first place), then persuade those people to spend their money. Salespeople may not make the products or build the services, but without their contributions there would be no money coming into the business. If they don’t do their jobs well, everyone suffers.
Unlike typical employees, salespeople need to be given the strongest possible incentives to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, and at all times. As a result, their compensation models work differently from a standard 9-to-5 worker. They need a good reason to dive in headfirst to the potential rejection of a sales call, and they need to have something to show for their work even when they’ve had an off week.
Sales compensation can be a complex topic, but the basic building blocks are easy to understand. There are three basic elements of sales compensation: Guaranteed, variable, and bonuses and incentives. Continue reading