“Can we hear the pitch?” Are you sick of hearing this? Probably. So what’s with this broken record?
Hopefully this is another answer to ‘why the pitch’, from a less obvious angle. Without question, whatever comes out of your mouth next needs to be enticing enough to set a hook of interest in a busy sea where there is an abundance of less appetizing bait fish. This we get and is pretty easy to intuit.
However equally important, maybe more so, is that the pitch is really a forcing function for KNOWING YOUR S$%T. Putting yourself out there, under the lights and scrutiny of very sophisticated critics who all have a large base of pattern recognition, means that you are exposing yourself to an onslaught of questions, poking and prodding, and attempts to knock you off balance.
Only when you know your business inside and out, when your improv is built on a foundation of skill and experience and numerous reps, can you deliver a pitch that is not only enticing but also credible, confidence inspiring and impenetrable. Preparing for a pitch is equal parts crafting a great story and stress testing to see if all aspects of the story tie together and work. You must know your numbers and how they interact with each other, how they interact with your plan, and how that interacts with the greater macro environment in which you are competing. Equally important, your business is in a constant state of change, week to week and month to month, and a good pitch is constantly incorporating these new data points and in theory demonstrating in real-time that you are in fact DOING what you SAY you’re going to do.
Without question, there will be aspects of your business and plan that are less knowable. And you may field questions that poke at these areas and questions that you’ve never before been asked before, that challenge you to think more on your feet. In these moments, THINK before the words just start flowing out of your mouth. Recognize that these are important and challenging questions. Let the person probing know that it’s a new and good question (and not every question is a ‘good question’, so stop saying that), that you haven’t fully considered. If necessary, opt not to answer on the spot and follow-up thereafter (a far better approach than word salad). This may also be a signal of why this person could make for a great partner/ally, because they are already thinking levels deeper than the softballs you’re used to slugging into the bleachers.
We are all pitching and selling something. And some of us know our stuff way better than others, and are also willing to concede when we do not have a confident answer…because you can’t know everything.
Think hard about your pitch from this perspective. What aspects of your rap open you up to questions that you are nervous about getting? Then go build some muscles in that area. And as soon as you’re strong there, that strength will undoubtedly open you up to new areas where you are less strong. Then repeat… Above all else, know as much of your S$%T as you possibly can up until this present moment. And know and be able to tell a narrative about why it matters.