Sales & Marketing

Published

Ask The Pitch Doctor: How do I tackle “speed networking” events?

4 Mins

A: I get asked this a lot – not only because of the prevalence of these kinds of events, but also because we’re all becoming time-poor, and who wants to sit through a two-hour sales presentation any more? 

I remember when corporate slide packs used to include photographs of the corporate offices, organisation charts and other, similarly “important” information. Show those types of slides these days and you’ll be booed out the room.

The big problem is: which details should you leave out about your company? You don’t want to risk missing out something important. That, of course, begs the question, how do you know what is important?

You could research each company you’re meeting and prepare a unique presentation for each one. That would be an excellent start, and if you haven’t researched the companies and individuals attending the conference, then you are missing a very important opportunity. 

The best approach is to put yourself in the shoes of the audience. Imagine yourself as a customer at the event. You are rushed from one meeting to another, each one a barrage of facts, figures, features, benefits, slides, videos and even photos of corporate offices. How many pitches do you need to sit through before you can no longer remember who said what and which products go with which logos?

In a very short space of time, the customers will be “pitch blind”. To get through that fog, you need to do something different.

Leave your laptop and brochures behind. Take only business cards, a notepad and pen. When you sit down at the start of each meeting, ask one simple question and then shut up, listen, and take notes. That simple question is as follows: “What can we talk about in this next half hour that will make the whole conference worthwhile for you?”

All you need to do is make sure that the ensuing conversation delivers against the answer to that question. 

As soon as the meeting finishes, write down the three most important points you discussed, and as soon as you get back to the office, place those three points in a follow-up letter (for which you have already written the template).

Remember: the purpose of a meeting or event like this is not to sell. It is to make a connection. Your job is then to follow up on that connection and develop it into a relationship.

The Pitch Doctor, also known as Paul Boross, helps individuals and companies to create and deliver winning pitches, using his unique combination of business, psychology and performance skills to bring out the best in anyone. He is author of The Pitching Bible, which has hit the number one spot on Amazon and is soon to be followed by its companion guide, The Pocket Pitching Bible.

Got a question for The Pitch Doctor? Email editors@realbusiness.co.uk

Share this story

Anthony Rushton
Sir Martin Broughton signs first private equity deal
Send this to a friend