We asked members of the Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) to share their best strategies for successful business pitches.
1. Warm call
"Turn your cold call into a warm call! Speak to high-level non-decision makers before you call the real prospects. They don't get the same volume of calls as the decision makers, so they will be more receptive and more likely to pass along the contact you need to speak with. Even if you already know who it is, you'll now be going in 'warm,' because you have been referred."
Erik Simins, EO Toronto
President, MAGNUS International
2. Come well-prepared.
"Our strategy includes research, preparation, and flexibility. Every prospective client is unique, so it pays to recognize their differences and adapt a presentation to each specific prospect. We do our research and ensure that our presentation underscores the points that are most likely to resonate with them. Because we do so, they realize we've taken the time to learn about them and thus will also take the time to serve them well."
Andrew Arroyo, EO San Diego
3. Set up face-to-face meetings.
"Don't underestimate the power of a face-to-face meeting. We have clients and prospects from all over the globe, but when we get the opportunity to pitch directly, we are more likely to close the deal. While it's easy to do video or audio conferencing, there's a certain amount of trust and personal connection that gets lost in these interactions. If you can meet with your sales prospects when your competition can't, you'll have an automatic leg up in the process."
Tom Kuhne, EO Colorado
Managing Partner and CTO, The Booth Company
"We listen. In our industry--architecture and design--there are oversized egos that don't. My partner and I often ask our team members if they are listening, or waiting to talk. On a recent project win, we were told that we were the only firm that began the bid by asking about the client's needs. Our competitors were a real turnoff for that particular client."
Christian Arnold, EO Kansas City
5. Be clear.
"We provide English-language courses to students from all over the world so I am constantly pitching to international prospects. One thing I have learned is to speak clearly without any jargon or slang. Make it easy for the listener to comprehend your point because if there's room for miscommunication, the other party tends to interpret your message in a self-serving way."
Stephen Shortt, EO Ireland
Managing Director, Alpha College of English