What's Your Pitch?

“Can you sign this? Please?”

That was the entire pitch of a guy asking people to sign a petition outside a nearby store the other day. I don’t know what the petition was for, and frankly, I don’t care. He didn’t give me any reason to care. He didn’t have any sort of a pitch ready for why people should sign.

You need to have a good pitch when talking about your home business. “Can you buy from me? Please?” won’t bring in much business at all.

Look Professional

Whether you’re talking to someone in person about your home business or connecting with them online, you need to look appropriate for a professional in your industry. This varies by industry.

One thing it is not for most industries is scruffy, dirty clothes. The guy with the petition looked as though he hadn’t shaved in a day or two, and his clothes were sloppy and filthy. If you’re meeting someone in person as a professional, you should dress appropriately.

Online, your behavior shows your professionalism. A part of your pitch is how people perceive you. It builds trust.

That means your website doesn’t look slapped together by some amateur. Most often that means owning your own domain name and paying for hosting. Some can get away with using free services, but why give yourself that disadvantage when the costs of domain names and hosting aren’t that expensive if you’re serious about your online business?

There’s also your behavior on social media sites such as Facebook. This is why you should separate your personal and professional profiles on such sites. You’re free to be you on your personal profiles, while projecting the right image as a professional on that profile.

Plan Your Pitch

Obviously, “Can you sign this? Please?” was a lousy pitch, so much so that most people would know better than to use it. No one is going to be interested in what you have to offer if you don’t state clearly what it is.

You need more than the bare facts too. People care far more about benefits than features, especially if you only have a moment to speak to them. Most times when I see people collecting signatures on petitions, they say things such as “Protect our schools,” and leave the explanation for when they have your attention.

Your initial pitch doesn’t have to be long – many people suggest having an “elevator pitch,” which is a short statement about your business, about 30-60 seconds long. It’s designed to create interest in more information.

These days, however, you may want to go even shorter. Just think how little space you have to present a statement on Twitter. What do you do to impress someone in just a sentence or two? How will it bring them into a conversation with you?

Don’t think of this as a sales speech. You’ll bore people that way. Think more about what you have to offer the other person, not on how you can sell them. People are more interested in things that benefit them, not you.

You really have to listen to what the other person is saying as you talk. Sometimes that means telling them to give their business to someone else. That’s not a bad thing. You become a more trusted resource when you can give solutions other than just the ones that profit you.

Don’t think of your pitch as something written in stone. Have some general ideas for how to present the benefits you offer to others, but adapt to the needs of your audience. Overall, you should get much better benefits by being flexible and attentive to the needs of others.