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How to avoid committing any of the seven deadly sins of business pitching


I hate the word ‘pitch’. And yet it’s come up at least 250 times over the last six weeks.

I’ve spoken with folks at all different stages of entrepreneurship – from people who’ve just closed their first week in business, to those hoping to be bought out by bigwigs.

When you see that many people pitching you start to spot recurring patterns. And recurring problems.

Are you performing the same seven pitching sins?

1. Apologists

The first mistake is one for the uninitiated. Some people open their pitch with apologies: why they aren’t prepared; why they can’t tell you clearly what they do; why they’re bumbling through.

Truth is, ‘I’m sorry [insert excuse here]…’ has no place in your pitch. Be prepared or keep schtum. People don’t want excuses. Excuses don’t sell, excuses don’t motivate, excuses don’t excite.

So quit covering your sweet, sweet ass and get to the point sharpish: What’s in it for your audience?

2. Human bullet point

Do you have a seemingly never-ending list of bullet points about the services and products that you offer?

Based on the theory ‘If I throw enough information out there, some of it’s bound to stick’, unfortunately it comes across like one big mind vomit.

Don’t think in terms of what you do, think about what’s of interest to your prospects.

3. Cliché throwers

Cliché throwers use the same old parroted lines. ‘We offer integrated solutions’. ‘One stop shop’. ‘Best Service, Best Price, Best Quality’.

It’s lazy and, like anything else, after you’ve heard if a half-dozen time, you switch off.

Get rid of the clichés and work out what you stand for that stands out.

4. Pitcher

The pitcher is an expert in old-style selling. Remember Joe the Gadget Man? Or spruikers like Big Kev? Although they may be amusing and sometimes informative, most of the time they’re annoyingly pushy.

Make sure your pitch isn’t all about you and your big, bold personality.

5. Proof Providers

The proof providers are the ones that lead with a long-winded tale about someone they’ve helped and the impact it made.

As much as I believe and encourage businesses to use testimonials, if you only have a minute or two to talk to someone your time could be better spent.

Unless your prospect can directly see themselves in who you’re talking about, they’re going to switch off. You’re better off talking to your prospects about themselves.

6. Folks living on Planet Me

The grandstander loves nothing more than talking about numero uno: ‘I’m doing this’, ‘I’m doing that’, ‘I help with that’, ‘I work with [insert namedrop here]’.

You know what? As your prospect, I don’t give a fig about you.

Secretly, I’m downright selfish. I just care about myself. If you can’t grasp that then you’re going to struggle to win me over with your message.

7. Woolly and vague

The vague tell you sod all. They talk about the industry, they talk in clichés, they’re indecisive. After they’ve finished you may be none the wiser regarding what they *actually* do.

It shows poor preparation. But even worse, it shows someone totally self absorbed in their own business and their own market, not the prospects’.

Beware of making these seven deadly sins yourself. Avoid them by spending time on preparation. Whether you’re a salesperson, a business owner, or an active networker, you’ve got to be able to communicate who you are and how you can help your prospect.

Steve Smit is a Business Coach with Reality Consulting. He works with business owners who want to increase their take home profits and work shorter hours.