How to Pitch a Winning Proposal

1) Know your audience – research and understand the people and the organisation you are pitching to. Understand what motivates them so you can tailor your pitch to tick their boxes. Investors are looking for understanding of the market, competitor analysis, and a solid grasp of the financials and forecasts. A creative organisation is more likely to be looking for passion, commitment and dedication to your product/ service. Whilst these are broad stereotypes this is just simply to illustrate the point that different people have different priorities and look for different characteristics in potential business partners.

2) Power of 3 – focus on no more than three main USP’s. You want your audience to come away from your proposal with a clear understanding of your key points. If you bombard your audience with 20 reasons to support you then they will leave struggling to remember point 1 to 19.

3) Tell your story – avoid pitching a mind numbingly boring pitch, which is both predictable and no different from the 10 others your audience has heard that week. Tell your story to create a memorable connection with your audience so they can see where they fit into the bigger picture. Also, you don’t have to tell them you’re passionate and dedicated – they will understand that from your story.

4) Make sure you recap as you go along. Your audience is not unintelligent but like most human beings they will appreciate you recapping and coherently linking consecutive points together so the presentation flows and is more memorable. It is accepted that the human brain can’t hold more that 7 chunks of information (Miller 1956) in the short term memory at once so summarising as you go will chunk important points together & stay in the minds of your investors better.

5) Sell yourself. Fear not, this isn’t about to be a cliché point about being a likeable person. Okay actually it is but it is more important to appreciate why this is crucial. It doesn’t matter how fantastic your idea is if no one wants to work with you. You know those people that seem to have all the luck even though you have the better ideas. Well these people are the ones who charismatically charm their audience into wanting to work with them whatever the proposal is. Your proposal cannot be a success without you so you are part of the package. You are the investment.

The fact that you are preparing a proposal for a business idea or product/service venture means you are already part of the way there. Having the courage to stand up in front of an audience and sell yourself and your idea is to be applauded. Even if you don’t make it the first time, keep trying because WD40 wasn’t called that because it’s a catchy product name, it’s called that because they got it right on attempt number 40.

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Comments not written in English will be given a translation below the original comment. This is because English is largely the common language of most of GYE's readers and thus we hope this will facilitate discussion and debate.

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