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Pitching against other businesses can make Games of Thrones seem like an amicable game of charades. It’s cut-throat, fiercely competitive, and difficult to find an entry point if you don’t find a way to stand out. In this article we look at top tips for a successful proposal.

Know your audience

It’s easy to get distracted by the parts of your business that you feel passionate about. Whether you’re pitching to equity investors to raise funds or winning over a new client, tell your story from their point of view. Undertaking some serious research will help you identify which points to give particular emphasis.

That doesn’t mean lose the passion, or only tell them what they want to hear. Passion is a good thing to have, and demonstrates that you’re prepared to work hard. Just understand who you are pitching to, so that everyone’s passions are aligned.

Use your bid to show how your brand values and objectives align

When values and ethics are drastically misaligned it can cause an ugly amount of friction. For example, clients may be persuaded to choose you based on how it seems you might become an extension of their business, and how you gel with their mantra and mission statement. It might even be what tips the balance between your bid and someone else’s.

When writing bids or putting tender documents together, make sure you do your research first.

Use any information you can find to learn more about who you’re pitching to and how they operate. That way, you can promote yourself in a way which positions you as the perfect match. Be authentic and genuine about it though – even little white lies tend to surface eventually.

Establish the facts

Give your audience the facts when you pitch. Your introduction should consist of who you are, and why you’re there. Unless you’re on Dragon’s Den then your audience probably already know this bit anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to make it clear. If you’re not too sure where to start, our pitch deck template can be used as a guide.

There are other inarguable facts that you can use to be persuasive, rather than trying to win someone round with your own ambitions. Referring to your performance so far, existing agreements, and the marketplace you operate in will ground your pitch in reality.

Show potential collaborators that you’re a reliable bet! Depending on who you’re pitching to, your bid might include:

  • Who you are
  • What you need from them
  • Why you need it
  • How you’ll succeed
  • What’s in it for them
  • Your selling points
If you’re pitching for money rather than business, you’ll almost always need to include your business plan.

Know all the facts and figures

Whatever it is you’re pitching, you need to know everything about it. If you’re creating a new website for a client, how much will it cost? How long will it take? Can the buttons be a different colour?

If you’re asking for a loan, do you know your financial performance, and how long it might take you to repay it?

The cold hard truth is that you’re there to ask for money in one form or another, so someone on your side of the table needs to answer questions. It will help reassure whomever you’re pitching to that you’re the safest bet for them to go with.

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Use the same language that they do

When assessing your bid, your potential client/investor/lender/granter of grants really wants to see that you ‘get’ what they’re after. Talking in a way that seems natural to them helps them empathise with you, while demonstrating a clear awareness of what is being asked.

For example, if there’s a brief and it says something along the lines of: “Clearly show how you will be structuring payment and be transparent about project costing”, concisely respond with something like, “Here, I clearly show how your payments will be structured, with a complete and transparent breakdown of costs”. You would then, of course, go on by putting flesh on the bones of this response.

Think of it as a great big signpost to the answers they’re after.

Heading, sub-heading, content

Every news story that’s ever stopped you in your scrolling tracks probably conforms to the principle of heading, sub-heading, content. Your business pitch is no different.

In real-world terms, your entire pitch should first be condensed into a very concise sentence. This is your engaging heading, whether it’s written or spoken.

The sub-heading is where you expand on things by (also very briefly) identifying your proposed route to success. And finally, spend a few minutes discussing the finer points. The bulk of a good presentation usually deals with answering the most obvious questions, and compounding your most saleable points.

Just remember to keep on track. At some point we’ve probably all sat through an interminable presentation of slides awash with notes (and a presenter determined to read all of them aloud).

Short, sharp points are the absolute key to a good pitch. Whether you’re pitching to secure business investment, or giving a presentation to a client. Keep. It. Punchy.

Enlist the help of an eagle-eyed proofreader

Nothing screams sloppy like multiple typos and poor presentation. You can read over your bids or tenders until you’re blue in the face, but it really does pay to have somebody else – with professional proofreading skills – to cast their eye over it too.

If you’ve got if, flaunt it – then flaunt it some more

Bid writing, client pitches, loan applications, and tender submissions are not the time to be humble. Even if tooting your own horn doesn’t come naturally to you, it’s time to put your modesty aside and shout about your USPs and achievements. To avoid seeming arrogant, remember the mantra; don’t tell them that you’re great, show them.

Use client testimonials, case studies, examples of past projects, ROI data and anything else you’re willing to share to help demonstrate that any bold claims have serious substance behind them.

Everyone gets nervous

Even the people who have stood in front of hundreds of people, hundreds of times, get a bit nervy before their big moment. All of the extra adrenaline which your body starts pumping around usually results in a wavery voice, a blotchy neck, and beautifully sweaty hands. (I’m never going to make a living as a professional poker player). It’s OK. Nice deep breath.

Prepare as much as possible. Rehearse your pitch over and over until you don’t need your notes. Have your notes with you just in case your mind suddenly goes horrifically blank.

Learn more about our online accounting services for businesses. Call 020 3355 4047 to chat to the team, and get an instant online quote.

About The Author

Stephanie Whalley

Serial snacker, compulsive cocktail sipper and full time wordsmith with a penchant for alliteration, all things marketing and pineapple on pizza.

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