“I’m terrified to pitch my services.”

September 20, 2006

The Scream One of my clients recently said this – and this fear of “the pitch” is common in all sizes and types of organizations. On a board and asked to raise funds? Ouch, I’ve got to – like – ask my friends for money?? Looking for funding for your start-up? Yes, you’ve got to “pitch” to investors or banks. Trying to generate revenue from your business? Yep, somebody (and more than one body) needs to buy from you.

But, here’s the thing. The less you focus on “selling” the more you’re likely to close the deal. The old hard sell (and cold calls) just don’t work. So, relax. You don’t have to be a “killer” sales person. Focus on connecting with the person, having an interesting conversation. Personally, I find the less I worry about the so-called pitch, the more business I close. So, by all means fine-tune your value statements, learn how to listen, learn how to write a presentation or plan that fits the audience…but forget the canned high-pressure sales jabber.

Related Post:
The Non-Profit Elevator Pitch

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Small Biz Scams

April 18, 2006

This week’s issue of Business Week is full of good information for entrepreneurs.

One article that caught my eye is “Would I Lie to You? Five Cons Still Kicking.”

Among others is the age-old “stuff envelopes at home.” (I’d bet they had some version of this back before they even had envelopes! “Make papyrus at home!”) Of course, there are now web variations “work in your pajamas” and such. But, just about all of them are – sadly – scams, often with some variation of pyramid schemes.

And, even if it’s not an outright con, it’s so easy to get taken when you’re in start-up mode. You’re optimistic, fired up and ready to roll! So, when a marketing agency, PR firm, business consultant or web site promises you great things quickly – you write the check.

It’s not exaggerating (much) to say I could retire if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard something like, “I paid the PR firm $150 an hour and got nothing.” or “He charged $2,000 for the business plan and I can’t get an investor to look at it.” I always feel badly because by the time I’m talking to the person, it’s almost always too late for me to help.

So, as with anything else, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.