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Murray is Managing Director of Strachan and Partners, a specialist business advisory consultancy, and Chief Executive of Albyn Ventures, a business investment group. He also holds a number of non-executive Chairman and director positions in a diverse range of companies throughout the UK, many of which he is a shareholder in. He is also Vice Chairman of the Entrepreneurial Exchange in Scotland.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Making The Perfect Pitch - The Seven Ps to Perfection

Making the perfect pitch, like anything in business or life, involves having or developing (through education, training and experience) the necessary knowledge, skills, ability and attitude (state of mind), combined with the ability to deliver the pitch with energy, sincerity and passion!
Before you even contemplate making a pitch, you need to thoroughly know your offer!  That includes (in a business selling context), your company, it’s products and/or services, the markets or industries that the company operates within, it’s existing and prospective customers, the competition and what differentiates your company and your “offer”.
The first essential step in making a successful “pitch” is undertaking the necessary research.  There is no substitute for and no shortcut to gaining the necessary background information on: the target company and the key players (decision makers, shapers or blockers); what the target business needs, wants or desires are; and how your “offer” addresses or exceed these, including how you can differentiate your “offer” from the competition.
Prior to preparing for any pitch, it is essential to have already made some form of connection with the target(s) and attempt to cultivate positive relations. This will also help with the research and you may even be able to road-test your “offer” prior to the main “pitch”.  It is always easier to make a pitch to a friendly face or faces!
Once you’ve done the research and developed connections with the target, you need to develop a pitch strategy, game plan and script, as the SAS would say, "proper preparation and planning prevents pxxx poor performance" (the 7Ps) . 
The “pitch” needs to be concise, to the point and you need to ensure that it is tailored and / or personalised to both the target and key players - How can you transform their business, help deliver their business objectives and address any concerns or personal needs of the key players.  
If there are more than one person delivering the pitch then you also need to be clear on roles / parts that each undertake, and how the interfaces will work.  Then it comes down to practice, practice, practice! “The more I practice the luckier I get” Gary Player (legendry South African golfer).
When actually making the “pitch”, remember that the first few minutes are critical and that first impressions really do count!  If you get off to a bad start it is very difficult to recover.  Experienced “pitchers” will have a number of openings that they can choose depending on the circumstances or audience.  Whilst you should always maintain and demonstrate complete professionalism, you should at the same time, try and create a personable atmosphere that softens and begins the connection process with the target(s).  A trick I use is to warmly shake everyone’s hands and make eye contact when I first meet the target(s). I would also urge you not to over-rely on technology or at least have a back-up and paper copies!
Finally you should ensure that you clearly summarise the agreed actions or promises to be delivered and always, always deliver on them as agreed & within agreed timescales.  There is nothing worse that making the perfect “pitch” and letting yourselves down by failing to deliver!

Murray Strachan

Murray works with executives, funders and shareholders to recover & create value!  You can contact Murray via his website www.murraystrachan.co.uk or follow him on twitter @murraystrachan

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