A business pitch is a short, persuasive presentation designed to spark investors’ interest in your offering, whether it’s a product, service or project concept. Entrepreneurs with a new app idea for a startup or established business owners hoping to expand their ventures will use a business pitch to their advantage. Pitching a business idea is one way to get investor funding from venture capitalists or angel investors.
Here, we speak with Joseph Aranyosi, associate dean of the College of Business and Information Technology at University of Phoenix, about effective business pitches.
Aranyosi explains: “A successful business pitch should get to the point quickly. Start by identifying the issue that your product or service will solve, briefly outline your solution and explain why you think it will perform better than other options. If you want investors to believe in you, you have to believe in yourself, so practice, show confidence and be prepared to back up what you say with facts and figures.”
ABachelor of Science in Business can provide the practical experiences to master the art of the business pitch, from a simple elevator pitch to a full pitch deck. Additionally, aMaster of Business Administration will impart even more skills for pitching, from developing a business model and attracting investors to executing your business plan. However, education alone isn’t enough; practice and real-world application are necessary to perfect this skill.
Interested in a business career? Explore business degrees at University of Phoenix!
Preparing to write your business pitch requires strategic thinking. It should showcase your idea and business model to potential investors, business professionals or a general audience and convey its potential value to generate support. To do so, a business pitch should:
Define the problem your business aims to solve
Identify who your customers are
Describe the business model and make it easy to understand
Highlight the relevant experience and skills that each team member brings to the table
Provide a snapshot of your expected financial performance over three to five years
Summarize the full business plan for potential investors in a concise elevator pitch
The pitch deck should engage the audience, build anticipation and deliver a satisfying conclusion to attract investors.
Aranyosi explains: “A pitch deck is basically your presentation materials (e.g., Microsoft PowerPoint, flip charts, models, graphs, financial statements). Think of a pitch deck as any supporting resources used to deliver your pitch.”
Know your audience
Before writing your pitch deck, familiarize yourself with who you’ll be presenting it to. Then, tailor it to suit their needs, preferences and expectations.
Associate Dean, College of Business and Information Technology
Aranyosi shares: “A good pitch will anticipate questions or concerns that investors will have so you can address them before they’re even brought up. To do this well, you need to research specific details about your industry, your investors’ backgrounds, your competition and other successful, and failed, ventures. Don’t assume — do your homework, since you’ll only get one chance to impress your audience.
“For example, most new restaurants fail, so a restaurant pitch will need to outline what’s new and unique about your proposal, provide clear financial budgets/forecasts, describe your experience in the area, and explain why investors should trust your judgment that you can beat the odds and be successful where others have failed.”
Anticipating your audience’s needs shows you’ve done your homework and keenly understand the marketplace. It also helps align your business proposal with their interests or strategic goals.
A few sources for such information are:
Investors’ websites: Look for details about their prior investments and interests.
Industry publications: Read up on any feature articles covering your potential investors’ portfolio companies.
Conversations with people who have pitched to the investors: If you can, contact someone with firsthand experience to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Share a personal experience or anecdote that led you to your idea
Provide a startling or unexpected fact related to your business
Ask a thought-provoking question related to the problem your business addresses
If your pitch deck captivates your audience from the get-go, you are more likely to have their attention and curiosity for the remainder of your presentation.
Clearly define your problem and solution
Outlining the problem and solution is the cornerstone upon which the rest of your pitch is built, and it’s critical for a couple of key reasons. The problem statement lays the groundwork for your pitch. It presents the reason for your business and underscores necessity. The solution directly addresses the problem you’ve identified. It needs to be compelling and viable, illustrating how you will alleviate the pain point.
Keep the following tips in mind as you define your problem and solution:
Avoid generalized statements. Make clear, specific and succinct claims that are both believable and relatable for investors.
Demonstrate that you thoroughly understand the problem. This establishes credibility.
Use real-life examples or scenarios to make your problem and solution more relatable.
The clearer and more compelling your problem and solution are, the more persuasive your pitch deck may be.
In the following passage, Aranyosi provides details and examples:
“A good pitch is clear, confident and compelling, focusing on the problem, solution, market and your team’s ability to execute the plan. It clearly answers the WIIFM
question for investors — ‘What’s in it for me?’ A bad pitch lacks structure, confidence, relevance and research, and it fails to effectively communicate a value proposition.
“Good example: ‘Have you ever been frustrated by [problem]? What if I told you that you could eliminate those issues forever using [solution] and that it’s relatively cheap and easy to manufacture? Would you be interested?’
“Bad example: ‘So, my neighbor was telling me the other day about [problem], and I got to thinking that a lot of people would probably be willing to pay good money for [solution]. That’s why I’m asking you to invest.’”
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The importance of mission, vision and values for business strategy
Although some entrepreneurs are tempted to add plenty of detail to their pitch decks, thinking it will provide a fuller and more compelling picture of their product or service, piling on information may not be the best route. If your audience doesn’t understand your industry or the technical aspects of your product or service, for example, and your pitch deck is overloaded with buzzwords or overly complex concepts, you risk losing their attention or confusing them.
Instead, a concise pitch deck shows your audience you value their time and can effectively convey your message without long-winded explanations that bore investors and waste their time.
Aranyosi explains: “Remember that although you may have been thinking about your proposal for a while, this will be the first time that your investors will be hearing it. So, keep it short and simple, highlight the most important and compelling points, and practice in front of friends and family so you’ll have a better idea of the kinds of questions you’re likely to encounter.”
Here are more tips to help:
Avoid going into excessive detail about every aspect of your business.
Use simple, everyday language in your pitch deck that anyone can understand. If you do use industry-specific terms, explain them with thorough context.
Practice your pitch in front of different audiences and ask for feedback. This can help identify potentially confusing or unclear sections.
The simpler your message, the more likely your audience will understand, remember and jump on your business venture.
Showcase your unique value proposition
A unique value proposition (UVP) is your stand-out factor — the reason why customers should choose your product or service over others in the market. Here are a few strategies to effectively communicate your UVP to investors:
Use data or real-life examples to back up your UVP and add credibility
Explain how features translate into benefits for customers
Identify any proprietary technology or processes that set you apart
The goal here is to provide your audience with a strong impression of how your business is different from or better than the rest.
Provide evidence and data
Data and evidence add credibility to your claims when pitching an idea. They demonstrate that your business idea is not just a theory but a viable, well-researched opportunity.
Here’s a look at how you can use data effectively:
Market research data: Share statistics about the size of the market, its growth rate or consumer behavior trends. This data demonstrates the potential demand for your product or service.
Case studies: Pilot studies, prototypes or early sales are valuable evidence that your solution works.
Benchmarks: Comparing your business to successful companies in your industry can be useful for influencing investors.
The key when delivering a business idea is to weave in your data and evidence in a way that supports your claims without turning your pitch into a dry presentation of numbers.
Address potential objections
Tackling any concerns your audience may have underscores an important factor: You must be forward-thinking and realistic about business decisions rather than loosely clinging to a distant dream.
Here are a few ways you can anticipate and address objections:
Think from the perspective of potential investors, partners or customers.
Ask others to critique your business plan and elevator pitch.
Prepare a clear, concise and convincing response for each potential objection.
If you don’t have an immediate solution to an objection, assure your audience you’re committed to finding an answer.
By anticipating potential objections, you can deliver a pitch resilient to scrutiny.
Aranyosi shares: “In my opinion, a great pitch follows the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared! Expect that you’re going to get some tough questions, and do your research so you’ll be ready to answer them appropriately. Also, be passionate about your proposal and remember to enjoy yourself. It’s hard to get other people excited if you aren’t enthusiastic about your own ideas. Investors aren’t just investing in your proposal — they’re investing in you.”
How to deliver a pitch
One skill you might attain while working in sales or management roles is how to pitch. From honing your delivery to creating visually excitingpitch decks, a lot goes into pitching.
Be visually engaging
Visuals can capture and maintain attention, facilitate understanding and make your message more memorable.
Complex concepts can be simplified and made more digestible through diagrams, charts or infographics.
Photographs or videos can trigger emotions to create a deeper impact.
High-quality visuals signal professionalism and enhance the perceived value of your business.
Maintain a clean and consistent style across your visuals and leverage the power of color and contrast to highlight essential points. Finally, test your visuals’ compatibility with your presentation equipment beforehand.
Aranyosi shares: “I’ve seen it happen several times where presenters don’t verify that their audience is ready, that they can hear them and that their presentation is showing properly (e.g., potential investors are on a bathroom break, presenters are on mute, slides aren’t showing on screen). Presenters should always start with introductions, social pleasantries, and a few questions to ensure that everyone is ready and comfortable enough to chime in if issues like this occur.
“Sometimes, an audience member may have a pet peeve that you’re unaware of (e.g., presenting with your hands in your pockets, using clichés, crooked ties). Presenters should constantly monitor the room for nonverbal feedback or other cues that can let them know that they need to modify their behavior or approach. Mimicking gestures and speaking styles is a great way to help build rapport with your audience, as long as you’re not making it obvious that you’re doing this.”
Practice and refine your delivery
As you practice your pitch more often — especially the elevator pitch — you may feel that it becomes so ingrained in your mind that it becomes akin to muscle memory. Doing this might also alert you to certain issues you may have with public speaking.
Speak clearly and confidently, maintain eye contact and use appropriate gestures.
Be energetic and passionate but not forced or exaggerated.
Take pauses to ensure your audience has time to process information and ask questions.
Be mindful of your body language. Don’t cross your arms, and try to face your audience so that you come across as open and welcoming.
Handling questions and feedback
Handling questions and feedback well is vital to delivering a successful business pitch. When doing so, keep the following tips in mind:
Make sure you understand what’s being asked or suggested before you respond. If you’re unsure, ask for clarification.
Directly address the question with clear and concise responses.
If possible, link your response back to a point in your pitch.
Aranyosi explains: “Knowing your data inside and out can also prepare you for the Q&A segment of a business pitch. Being able to support your answer with facts lends credibility to both you and your proposal. You should be able to explain why you made the specific decisions that you did, but you should also be prepared to explain why you rejected other ideas. This will clearly demonstrate that you’ve researched the problem, market opportunities, and viable solutions, and that you’ve put sufficient thought into your proposal.”
Business programs at University of Phoenix
If you’re looking to gain a solid foundation in business or improve upon existing knowledge, visit UOPX for information about online business programs. These courses are designed to teach career-relevant skills in a flexible, online format.
Master of Business Administration—Prepare for higher leadership roles in an organization. This degree program educates graduates for careers as business managers, operations directors and more.
Master of Management—Take your understanding of business organization and management to an advanced level. This degree program is perfect for those with experience in the workforce who are looking to take on greater leadership roles.
Doctor of Business Administration—Expand your understanding of organizations, work environments and industry. This program invites participants to delve into cutting-edge research in the field of business and develop skills for solving complex organizational problems.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and its Writing Seminars program and winner of the Stephen A. Dixon Literary Prize, Michael Feder brings an eye for detail and a passion for research to every article he writes. His academic and professional background includes experience in marketing, content development, script writing and SEO. Today, he works as a multimedia specialist at University of Phoenix where he covers a variety of topics ranging from healthcare to IT.