You are standing over the brownies and strawberries at some networking function, and a likely candidate for interest in buying your product or investing in your company looks across the chocolate chip cookies, smiles, and says, “I’m Ron, CEO of Everything.com. What do you do?”
So, you get one sentence to state your unique value proposition and your first-level differentiation. In simple language. And I mean simple – See Spot Run. See Jane watch Spot. That kind of language. No jargon. No tech-speak. Say it like you would explain it to your sister’s cousin’s grandmother. So you say:
“I’m John, CEO of Startup.com. We make (widgets) that let our customers (replace with your specific target customers) improve their (insert the value of using your widget or service) because our widget (state your differentiation from your competitors – technology, pricing, etc.).
Watch the structure. “I’m John, CEO of PhoneCoupons.com. We provide internet supermarket coupons that let shoppers find our 10% better-discount coupons on their smart phone in real time while shopping and use them at the checkout – no research, no clipping, no forgetting.”
Notice no tech speak. Grandma could get it if she understands how smart phones work.
Ron says, “Interesting. Tell me more.”
This is your chance to extend your value proposition and dig more deeply into your differentiation and success. You say:
“PhoneCoupons.com is in partnership with 70% of the major product brands and 80% of the regional supermarket chains, our technology is in use today, and sales are growing at 40% per month. We take a 2% fee from the product brands for each transaction, and will be profitable within the year. We are looking for strategic partners and capital investors for our growth phase.”
Ron says, “Can you send me some information on this to share with my Board?”
You send your pitch deck (for the product or the investment, as appropriate – these are separate decks). Each deck, no more than 10 slides in each, positions the unique value proposition, the differentiation and the return on investment to the customer or the investor. And it can be a 2-page pitch piece, not a PPT deck, if you prefer.
The response you want from the pitch piece is: “Can you come in and show us a demo and tell us more?”
At this point, you have a qualified prospect (you have determined if you are talking to a customer or investor or both), and can go in with your demo and full pitch for closing.
Notice that all you want in a response is 1) Tell me more, then 2) Can you send some information and 3) can you come in for a meeting. If you push for a faster response than these measured requests, you blow the deal. This is why each sentence from you must be crafted to speak to value and not technical detail, and to speak to differentiation and ROI, not product specifics.
The secret is to not tell too much too soon in too-technical language.
My key work in this area received an immediately $2.1M equity commitment on a 2-page pitch piece in See Spot Run language on a complex software product, and allowed another company looking for its 1st professional equity investment to sell itself to a strategic partner within months.
Knowing how much not to say when, how to position value and differentiation in a sentence or two, and how to use simple language to explain technology is the secret to successful pitching. Good luck.