Pitching Truth #1: You are always pitching.
Whether encouraging your child to eat broccoli, pitching to major VC investors, or trying to nail that next promotion: you are always pitching.
Pitching starts when a child realizes he can influence his environment, at least on occasion. Children pitch for ice cream, hugs, Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall LEGO Building Kits, iPhone X’s and later on, cars.
Pitching Truth #2: People invest in YOU more than your concept.
If they choose not to invest in you, the stated reason will probably be related to your concept. But that’s only because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.
Years ago, I was rejected for a promotion to team lead because I “lacked leadership experience.” The person who did get put in that leadership position had no leadership experience either AND even less experience over all.
Here is a happier true life example.
Messaging company Slack is rumored to be worth over $9 billion, give or take. (Article here) What we know as Slack began life in 2002 when Canadian Steward Butterfield created a video game called “Game Neverending.”
The game failed but in the process created a photo-uploading tool later known as Flickr, purchased by Yahoo for $20 million.
In 2009 Butterfield started a company called “Tiny Spec” to develop a game called “Glitch”. The following year Butterfield raised $5 million from two key investors (Accel Partners and Andreesen Horowitz).
It was supposed to launch in 2010 but did not.
In 2011 these same investors put more $10.7 million more in the venture.
In 2012 Glitch died.
However, Butterfield noticed in the process of developing his failed game, a robust messaging system had emerged between the Canadian and U.S. offices.
In 2014 Slack raised $120 million from a group of investors, including THE VERY SAME investors who funded the failed game. (Read a brief history of Slack here.)
Point is. Investors vote for the person, not the concept. The very same process applies for getting hired, getting promoted, and getting invited to the best parties.
Pitching Truth #3: Winning pitches are audience centric.
Which is to say, winning pitches touch the right buttons of the people they are pitching to. At the recent Charleston Digital Corridor Pitching Panel, my co-panelist, Sentio founder AJ Richichi, stressed the importance of being authentic as a way of connecting with the audience.
Trying to be something you’re not doesn’t work.
Obviously, not all VC firms are equal, not all parents are swayed by the same arguments and not all hiring decisions are made on the same criteria.
Here are some things you can research about your potential audience of decision makers.
- Strategic priorities
- Favorite key words, phrases and sayings
- Published works of any sort
- Preferred charitable causes
- Communication styles
What is true, is that the successful pitch resonates with the audience because you have somehow taken the trouble to show them that you know them and understand their needs.
Here’s an article about precisely targeting your audience with my Feel, Know, Do tool.
In other words, your pitch is not about you, it’s about connecting what you offer to the priorities of your audience.