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Secrets Of A Pitching Pro

Knowing how to deliver a great pitch is essential for every entrepreneur—whether for a one-person business owner looking for clients or a startup founder aiming to scale.

So how do you create your ideal pitch? For insight, I spoke recently with Precious L. Williams, author of Pitching for Profit: The Bad Bitches’ Playbook to Convert Conversations Into Currency, published on April 13.

Williams, an attorney by training, is founder and CEO of the sales training firm Perfect Pitches in Brooklyn, N.Y. In a previous life she founded Curvy Girlz Lingerie, a brand that catered to plus-size women—winning the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch competition, along with 12 others.

Here are some tips Williams shared on how to pitch effectively.

Think strategically. When crafting a pitch, think about the ultimate message you want to deliver. “To me, pitching belongs in your mind,” says Williams. “What do you want people to envision when you talk?”

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Your pitch, she says, should mention four key factors: 1. Who you are, 2. What you do, 3. Whom you serve and 4. What your secret sauce is. Know the answer to the question, “Why should I choose you over someone else? What do you bring to the table that is different? What is your unique flavor?”

Go deep on this, she recommends. “You should always have 150 reasons someone should hire you, book you, invest in you.”

If you’re pitching a service, don’t say, “I help people with…” she advises. Speak with words that engender confidence, such as “I am hired by…” or “I am called in to…” The idea is to keep your audience focused on the results  you deliver.

Disrupt the way your audience thinks. Many people today suffer from information overload. To get someone’s attention, “you have to interrupt the patterns most people are used to hearing,” says Williams. “Start off with a question, statistics or a startling quote. Drop a set of books. Do something different.”

Don’t be afraid to be bold and unexpected, Williams advises. “When I show up for something, there’s always something pink I have on—really hot pink.”

Make it clear what you want listeners to do. “You want a powerful call to action,” says Williams. “You want to make sure they do something. Don’t leave them hanging. You have to fully direct them to what you want them to do.”

Turn off the negative self-talk. “Your perceived flaws are your secret weapons—all those ‘isms’ we’ve been told will hold us back,” says Williams. For instance, instead of believing the message, “There’s no seat at the table” for you, you might say, “Oh, okay, so I’ll go and create one.”

Understand the true purpose of pitching. Pitching isn’t about winning money—though it may help you do that. “It’s about building relationships,” says Williams. You never know when you’ll meet someone with the potential to become a valued advisor or to help your business grow. Being ready to share your story wherever you happen to be—whether it’s at the supermarket or a networking event, can help bring new relationships into your life. “I don’t think of pitching as something where you need to be at a pitch competition or in front of investors,” says Williams.

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If you want to grow as an entrepreneur, it’s important to keep expanding your network to include people outside of your usual circles who bring a diversity of opinions and experiences. “We tend to stick with the same people,” says Williams.  Using social media can help you meet people you might not otherwise bump into.

Ultimately, new connections may unlock opportunities your usual circle is unaware of. “If you can get your relationships right, they’ll be nominating you for things you didn’t know existed,” she says. Or they may simply open doors.

When Williams started her lingerie company, a woman she met on LinkedIn introduced her to boutiques on Madison Avenue in New York City that might be interested in carrying her brand. “She made me appointments with lingerie brands I had never even heard of,” says Williams.

What if you don’t love social media? There are many ways to foster situations like this. Williams makes it a point, whenever she does public speaking, to include a slide that asks the audience whom in their network they can introduce her to. “Make it easy for people,” she says.


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