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.”
The proof is the deep-dive into the finer details of your business model. The goal here isn’t to give them everything or to answer all their questions or reveal every detail about your business, but instead to give them just enough information to make generate some real curiosity in what you’re doing. You want them to always want to know a little more, giving them a reason to follow up with you after the pitch is done. This is one reason why the proof stage tends to be the most relevant when you’re pitching to potential investors, lenders, strategic partners, and even potential acquirers.
Interestingly, the steps for presenting the proof should be familiar to most entrepreneurs. These need to be presented in a specific order, but the steps themselves are standard pieces of information. These are:
- Your business model: How will you get customers to give you their money?
- Your go-to-market strategy: Who are your customers, and how will you reach them?
- Your competitors: Who do have to beat to win customers, and why will those customers pick you over the other guy?
- Your management team: Who are your key players, your advisors and your investors? What skills, resources or insights do they bring to the table?
- Your financials: What level of performance can you attain over the next 3 to 5 years?
- Your key metrics: How many customers will you have? What are your conversion rates? What’s your churn rate?
- Your investment and use of funding: How much money do you need to achieve the financial projections that you just talked about? What are you going to spend it on, and how is the deal structured?
With these two core elements — the hook and the proof — you have the foundation of the business pitch. Now that we’ve seen the 50,000 foot view, and have a general idea how the pitch is structured, we need to start zooming in so we can take a look at the finer details. I’ll do exactly that in my next post.