How to pitch your products and services

by Fraser Doherty

On my journey of taking SuperJam from my Gran’s kitchen to the shelves of thousands of supermarkets around the world, there have been a few make-or-break moments. 

There were a handful of people along the way who I had to convince to believe in my idea - people who had the power to make it a success.  By successfully pitching my idea to supermarket buyers, I was able to get SuperJam onto the shelves.

Whatever kind of business you’re setting up, there will be people that you have to convince to believe in what you’re doing.  They might be council officials who have the power to accept or decline your planning application.  Or maybe you have to convince a bank manager to lend you enough money to get things off the ground.  Although, more often than not, you’re going to have to win your customers by pitching your concept to them.

When it comes to pitching your idea to bankers, government officials, investors or potential customers, chances are, they are going to be very busy people.  You might only have five or ten minutes to get your ideas across.  In that time, you’re going to have to tell them your story, explain your concept and then convince them that it solves a problem for them and that they should definitely buy it from you.

Getting your Message Across

The first step in the process of pitching your idea will be getting a meeting with the right person - which is easier said than done.  In the case of a buyer for a large retailer, you can start by calling up the head office and asking for the name of the buyer.  Then you might send them a sample of your product and follow up a week later and ask to meet with them.  With any luck, they’ll agree to you visiting them to tell them more about it.

Now it’s your big moment to shine.  Make sure you do your homework and be well prepared for the meeting.  You’re not going to have to write a great speech or expect to present to a hundred people.  Chances are, the meeting will be one-on-one and you have to convince that one person to believe in your idea, and more importantly, to believe in you.

Your pitch should cover your journey - how you came up with the idea and what success you’ve had so far.  It should also clearly explain the benefits of your product, how you’re going to promote it and how the pricing compares to the competition.  You should also leave the person your pitching to in no doubt as to what you are asking for from them and why you think your idea should appeal to them.

The key to all of this is to be really clear about what your message is - what is the one reason that your business is going to appeal to that person?

Be Honest

No doubt the person you will be pitching to will have plenty of questions for you about how you’re going to deliver what you’ve promised.  Before the meeting, be sure that you have thought about how to answer whatever question they put to you.

When I look at my own make-or-break pitching experiences, I think that perhaps what made them a success was that I was open and honest with the people I was pitching to.  I didn’t pretend to have all the answers and I actually asked them what they thought I should do.  I’d say ‘what are the things that would stop you from buying my product?’ and then tell them that I was happy to work on improving those things.

The more honest you are with potential partners, the more they’ll trust you.  And, the more you ask them for ideas, the more likely they are to believe in the concept - because they’ve had a part in making it what it is!

is the founder of Scottish jam company, SuperJam. After learning to make jam with his Grandmother at 14, he has built a company that now supplies 2,000 stores in the UK and Australia. Named one of Inc. Magazine's '30 under 30', Fraser has seen his SuperJam entered into the National Museum of Scotland as an Iconic Scottish Brand. Fraser has published The SuperJam Cookbook and SuperBusiness; his guide to starting a business, having fun and doing good. He also tweets and blogs.
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