8 secrets to pitching sucess

1. Prepare

Even if it’s an introductory meeting, make sure you prepare. Alongside preparing how to present your company, have a clear idea of what you want to get out of the meeting. Around 75 per cent of the companies I meet for the first time haven’t prepared anything in advance – so the 25 per cent who have instantly look more business-like.

2. Present as if you’re having a conversation

Think of pitching your business as a conversation with structure. Put yourself in the listeners’ shoes and consider what they need to know, what would be nice to hear and what’s just unnecessary chatter.

3. Play to each presenter’s strengths

If more than one person is presenting, make sure that everyone presents something, as otherwise your audience will wonder why those people are there. People are naturally better at presenting information they know well, so have each person talk about the subject they’re most familiar with.

4. Cover all the basics

This includes the history of the business, the management, what the business does and its USPs, the finances, competitors, trends in the markets, what you want personally and what the business needs from an investor. If there are any problems in the business, be open about them; it’s better that an investor hears this from you than through their due diligence.

5. Avoid jargon

Every industry has its own jargon, but don’t assume your audience will be familiar with it. The investor needs to understand exactly what your company does if they are to invest in it, so describe any products and services in a clear, compelling way.

6. Be consistent

Internal inconsistencies – £4m on one page becoming £6m on the next –undermines your credibility. To avoid this, ask someone outside the presenting team to review any material in advance of the meeting.

7. Print out the presentation

It may seem like a small point, but it’s important that you give each person in your audience a copy of the presentation. They want to listen to you and not spend their time scribbling down information that could be in a print out.

8. Expect detailed questions

Your audience is there to find out specific information about your business, so expect them to ask questions. Some of the questions may be challenging and it’s important not to be defensive. And expect questions throughout your pitch, not just at the end.

Matthew Owen is a Director at one of the UK’s most active private equity houses, Sovereign Capital.

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