You may have a fantastic business idea, be extremely good at what you do, offer the best whatever-it-is in town, but if you’re no good at pitching, you may not secure enough business to keep afloat.
Pitching strikes horror into many a freelancer’s heart, but it needn’t. It just depends on how you look at it.
Have you ever, at a dinner party, a kid’s play-date or in passing at a shop, mentioned what you do or had someone be interested in it and you? Did you have a conversation? That’s it. That’s the best pitch. A natural conversation about who you are, what you do and why.
So the best pitch is just making or taking those opportunities (without being a bore). And not saying the ‘wrong’ thing and closing it down.
Being a red-hot web designer, music teacher or Kinesiology practitioner doesn’t necessarily make you a great salesman, but there are things you can do to improve.
- Be passionate. If you’re not, you’re probably in the wrong business. If you feel genuinely excited about and confident in your business, you will naturally sell yourself and what you do.
- Speak up! You will find your opportunities through your networks, so make sure you are talking about what you do.
- Do not self-depreciate about your work or your abilities. I repeat. Don’t do this.
- Always follow-up. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Don’t make reasons not to. Whether by email or in-person, do it.
- Do it in person if you can. For most businesses, you are competing with lots of other people who are able to do what you do. So you’re really selling yourself. It’s all about you and them and the working relationship.
- Don’t be sloppy. I won’t give someone my business if I think they won’t take care of it. So look like you can. Be professional. Be organised. I’m not saying don’t cancel a meeting because your child is ill. I am saying communicate well, look clean and organised (this certainly does not mean you need to wear make-up, heels or a suit). Just arrive prepared. On time.
- Be relate-able. We like people like us. We trust people like us. Find something in common.
- Do networking events – especially the informal ones. There’s no need to pay for these. If they don’t exist, set them up. A coffee with other people in your own or a similar field is a great opportunity to share ideas and business hurdles and experience too. This shared experience can help you pitch, prepare and tear down your self-imposed boundaries. Don’t be afraid of sharing ideas – people approach things differently.
- Ask for the business. It’s a tough one, but you need to go for it occasionally. I hate the hard sell, but I will ask if I can email with a proposal, especially if I am sure I can add worth and think we would work well together.
- Use tools to tell people who you are and what you do. Use your social media networks, LinkedIn, write a blog, showcase your offer and make sure there are good contact links on your sites so that people can get hold of you easily.
Pitching really is a hard one but like anything, you can learn to do it more effectively. To be honest, its more about habit than learning. You don’t always need to be looking for the ‘in’ but you do need to tell people where it’s obvious and where you can help. If you get into the habit of doing it, it comes far more easily.
I am looking into creating a shared work-space in Worthing where I can run events on various subjects, pitching being one, alongside networking and other useful sessions for the freelance community. Please join my mailing list to hear more as it happens.
In the meantime, happy pitching and good luck.