Lori Greiner has seen hundreds of pitches from entrepreneurs over three-and-a-half seasons on “Shark Tank,” but she’s also been regularly giving pitches herself since patenting her first invention in 1997.
With more than 400 inventions and 120 patents to her name, as well as a hands-on approach to a diverse portfolio of investments in small businesses, Greiner has worked to become a reliable salesperson to some of the world’s biggest retailers, like Bed Bath & Beyond and Target. And as the “Queen of QVC,” her pitches to customers practically guarantee that the product sells out in a matter of minutes.
In her book “Invent It, Sell It, Bank It!,” she explains that every great pitch — to investors, distributors, or customers — contains the same elements.
We’ve summarized Greiner’s points on what makes a pitch work, and included some comments she recently made at an event announcing her partnership with Staples.
It’s as concise as possible.
“A great pitch is when a person can describe what their business or product is within two sentences,” Greiner said at the Staples event.
Buyers and investors are “smart, savvy, and expert at summing up a product’s potential at a quick glance,” Greiner writes. They don’t need hand-holding, but they need to know why they should part with their money within a minute or two or else they will stop listening.
“Any time you can make a buyer laugh or engage is a step closer to getting a deal,” Greiner writes.
Draw the investors in with enthusiasm and passion. Remember that whether you’re on “Shark Tank” or pitching to a single venture capitalist, your audience has spent either little or no time thinking about your product, which you may think is the greatest on the market.
If you exude confidence and energy, “you could pull a buyer out of a post-lunch stupor faster than any Red Bull,” Greiner writes.
It makes the seller as appealing as the product.
“I look at who the entrepreneur is,” Greiner said at the recent Staples event. “For me, it’s everything.”
An investor will be paying attention to how well you listen, and if you possess qualities that indicate you’d be someone easy to work with.
If entrepreneurs don’t listen to questions asked during a pitch, “they’re not going to hear you down the road, either, and they’re not going to be a good partner.”
It demonstrates why there’s an opportunity that can’t be missed.
As you give your pitch, retailers or investors are wondering how the money they give you will result in more money returning to them.
A key factor in this decision is determining whether consumers won’t be able to live without your product.
“Not everything will be right for the buyer personally, such as when you’re selling a female-oriented product to a male buyer, but buyers know their customers,” Greiner writes.
It answers all questions about the business.
“You need to be accountable for and aware of every unit in the warehouse, every number on the books, every order coming in,” Greiner writes, and you “need to have ready answers for how you intend to plan for the future.”
Tell the truth, and admit when you don’t know something. Knowing all of your numbers and facts will help you from crumbling under a line of questioning.
Greiner writes about a time when Brandon and Keith Marz came into the Tank to pitch their line of vitamin sprays at the end of a long day of shooting. The investors were exhausted and the male Sharks decided to try several spritzes of the Marz’s caffeine spray. Suddenly, Greiner says, the guys perked up and became much more aggressive and fast-paced with their lines of questioning.
But the entrepreneurs “were prepared and had great answers for everything,” Greiner writes. “It was memorable.” Impressed with how they handled themselves under pressure and convinced of the products’ efficacy, she made a deal with them.
It’s based on data.
Following up on the previous point, Greiner explains that enthusiasm and passion can’t replace the facts about whether the product has been or can be profitable.
If you need to continually explain why your product is unique, for example, then there’s probably a gap in your market research that your potential buyer is driving at. Smoke and mirrors won’t work with seasoned professionals.
Ensure that if you have a tangible product, you come to your pitch with a flawless prototype. If you give a demonstration, practice it repeatedly until it becomes second nature. Think of a pitch as a performance that you can fine tune before it matters.
“You cannot over-prepare for a pitch,” Greiner writes.
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