For those of you who have been following my articles over the years already know that I am a fan of some of the reality TV shows. With the busy lives we lead, these shows can sometimes be that break we need from our own reality, as we watch the interesting stories unfold. I am particularly interested in anything that I can learn and apply to my own business, even from business moguls from Shark Tank to Gene Simmons of KISS!
One show that I loved in 2012 is called “The Pitch.” This series offers viewers an inside glimpse of two top ad agencies completing to win a new client by going head-to-head in a winner-takes-all showdown. With only seven days to prepare, the stakes are high and the pressure gets intense as they compete for an account, building toward a pitch meeting where the rivals present their ideas to the client.
About one minute into the show, I jumped up and grabbed a notebook and started writing…over three pages of notes! As I watched the ad agencies compete, there was a clear understanding that although we wear many hats, none perhaps is more important than that of being our own “company pitchman.”
In today’s competitive climate where we may have 30 seconds to five minutes to ‘sell’ ourselves to customers, getting a pitch right can lead to buzz and growth. So, how do you make a great presentation? Having recently viewed a few episodes of “The Pitch,” and from my own experiences, I’ve pulled together some key observations.
Convey a clear story. A great pitch presentation leaves prospects inspired. If the vision is providing them with the best vacation experience ever, the prospective client should walk away with a clear picture of how you will achieve that vision. If your audience is inspired and can accurately re-tell your story, then your presentation was effective.
Know your Competition. Ask prospects how they booked their last vacation. Mention a list of online competitors and how you differentiate your service from them. Be clear and candid about how your service will achieve success in the face of competition.
Show Confidence. When people get nervous they usually talk too fast. Remember that during a pitch the audience is hearing it for the first time. Speak too fast and they’ll be left behind. If you meet the clients in person, make sure that you look them directly in the eye. This doesn’t mean staring at the same person throughout the pitch, but try to make eye contact with a different person for each part of your pitch. It’ll help to convey you as being confident, trustworthy and honest.
Understand Your Target Market. During one episode of “The Pitch,” the company that they were bidding to get the business from had a product that was targeted to women from the age of 35-50. The ad company went out and talked to women in this demographic to survey what they liked and didn’t like about the product. If your prospective client falls in a particular demographic, make sure your pitch will appeal to their lifestyle.
Be honest with your prospects and yourself. You see it all the time with people trying to bend the truth and bluff their way through questions. If you don’t know an answer, be honest and say that you don’t. Similarly, don’t paint a rosy picture if there are in fact many obstacles in the way.
Be honest with yourself. Is your company unique enough to get the business? Do you have the knowledge or experience to handle the client’s needs? Do you have a preferred supplier partner that will enhance your service to them? Make the assumption that your audience is a savvy consumer and by doing so you gain trust, and build credibility.
Present the facts. It’s important to include who and what you can do for them. Point out any specialist programs you have completed and present recent client testimonials. Include facts about state licensing compliance and other basic business licensing and insurance requirements you have met. This all shows credibility and stability.
Be passionate and create an emotional connection. The most important thing you can convey to your audience is passion. Ask for an opportunity to tell your own story with emotion and energy. Explain why you got into the travel business. Enthusiasm can be infectious – show that you have a passion about your specialty or your travel business. Make them believe that you are the right person for the job!
When giving a pitch, you have just a few minutes to stand out from your competition. Take advantage of your short window of opportunity by telling a memorable story with passion. The best pitchmen aren’t salespeople. The “reality” is that they’re great storytellers.
Anita Pagliasso is the author of “How I Made A Small Fortune as a Home-Based Travel Agent” “From Home-Based to POWERHOUSE” and “Anita’s Toolbox for Home-Based Agents CD”(www.redticketproductions.com), President, Host Agency Ticket To Travel (www.travelagentathome.com), Travel Agent Forum Conference Director, and PATH President & Executive Board Member. Finally Anita is also a professional educator with The Travel Institute, www.thetravelinstitute.com.