Since the global pandemic began in 2020, the need to pitch your business or startup through virtual presentations has become more crucial than ever.
In the last two years, virtual sales pitching has established itself as the new norm. However, while the need to convince potential clients or investors that your startup is deserving of their attention without meeting face-to-face is essential, it’s frightening how unprepared businesses are for this process, and it may even be the cause for their startups to fail. Many would say that delivering a sales pitch in-person is the most powerful approach to persuade people and grow a startup, but what happens when this option is no longer possible?
In this article, we’ll cover five smart steps for nailing your next virtual presentation, whether you’re an entrepreneur looking to master the skill of pitching a startup virtually, or just searching for tips to learn how to make a successful sales pitch remotely.
1. Know Your Audience
To keep your business story consistent, you should have a reasonably templated sales pitch, but it’s also crucial that you study who you’re meeting with so you can adapt the presentation to their interests and needs.
Remember that most investors are entrepreneurs, just like you. They already know where you’re coming from, so find out where they’re coming from too.
Study your client or investor beforehand:
After you’ve chosen your target clients and investors, spend some time researching the backgrounds of the companies and individual investors to identify how they do business. Consider the different people you intend to meet with and adjust your pitch accordingly.
Questions to consider include:
- How well do they understand their industry?
- What successful startups have they previously backed, and why?
- What do you have in common with those businesses (and how can you prove it)?
Answering these questions will help you align your sales pitch to the investor’s needs and increase your chances of closing a deal.
Learn who’s going to be “in the room”:
Before presenting your sales pitch, conduct some analysis of who the key players will be in the room. If possible, find out their role within the organization and deals they’ve previously been involved in.
As you collect this data, you may come across a range of background information that can help you improve your sales pitch. For instance, if this investor has a diverse portfolio of retail enterprises, they may be particularly interested in how your app could support eCommerce.
Customize the content for the audience:
Each time you present your sales pitch, it should be unique. Customize it to the company and the role you’re pitching to.
Show your investors that you care enough to understand their business by crafting a concise message that highlights the qualities of your product that are most important to them.
Introduce yourself, your team, and your product:
Information about you and your startup is widely available online, and your potential investors have most likely already looked through it. However, within the deck, remind them of the key players involved in the business, and what unique skills and experience they bring to the startup.
To keep your sales pitch concise and relevant, create a two-minute introduction that sets the tone for the rest of the virtual presentation. No need to go into detail on how you started your startup.
Some information that may help you craft your introduction is:
- Your name and position
- About the company.
- The number of people or partners in your company.
- A catchy phrase that encapsulates your overall vision.
- An explanation of who you serve, what you offer, and why you do it.
Keep in mind that a solid introduction can make a lot of difference and can determine if your investors will keep on listening, or simply dismiss your sales pitch altogether.
Balance small talk with getting down to business:
The length of your pitch is as important as the content of the entire pitch. A pitch that’s too long will cause your investor to lose interest and zone out.
Some small talk and humor are good to set the tone and make your pitch conversational – encouraging investors to ask questions and engage with what you’re presenting. But don’t drag it too long in as you’ll lose valuable time.
2. Get Your Setup Right
When presenting a virtual sales pitch, you need to make sure that your environment, equipment, and appearance are set up for success. A neat, well-organized workstation reveals a lot about you, and a neutral background enables your audience to focus on what you’re saying, not what you keep on your desktop.
Make sure you have a stable internet connection:
To make your virtual pitch a success, you’ll need a strong internet connection. If your image freezes or your words are difficult to understand, it will create a terrible impression that will make it hard for the people on the other side of the screen want to invest in your business.
Invest in collaboration tools:
To have a good online meeting with an investor, you must have high-quality video conferencing software that allows you to successfully pitch and showcase your products and services.
RingCentral provides you with trustworthy video conferencing software that improves your investor’s experience and ensures that they have a favorable impression of your product.Different companies will have their preferences for online collaboration tools; be it Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet. Whatever platform you choose, make sure you and your investors are completely comfortable using it (tip: send some instructions in the invite).
Technical tips for presenting:
With a virtual pitch, you need to be prepared for technical difficulties, which means getting the setup right from the start:
- Place camera slightly above eye-level: Cameras are not in the center of the screen on computers, yet most people stare at the screen while making a pitch. Train yourself to look at the camera so that way your investors feel like you’re making eye contact. You’ll come across as much more professional and less distracting that way.
- Use the right microphone: When making a presentation, your voice is the most powerful weapon at your disposal, so you should always prioritize audio quality. If you have a decent computer, your laptop microphone might be a fine option. On the other hand, you could consider upgrading to a recording-quality headset or microphone.
- Don’t sit in front of a window: If you want to be seen properly, make sure the light is coming from the front and not the back. Otherwise, you’ll either have shadows on you, or people won’t see you properly. To make it look even more professional, you can set a lamp directly behind your camera and turn out all the other lights.
- Don’t sit in a swivel chair: It may seem obvious, but using a rotating chair will make you move during the presentation, which might distract your audience. If you don’t have a still chair, try using the adjustable features in your desk chair to avoid unwanted movements while you’re presenting.
- Consider your light source: Pick a dedicated spot in your house and set up your equipment to face a neutral color wall. The best option is to arrange your setup so that natural light is hitting the front of your face. And since it’s kinder to our eyes, it will also make your video appear much clearer.
3. Show, Don’t Tell
Once your investors have become convinced to continue listening to your sales pitch, you need to show how your product can fulfill their current needs.
Observe the 10/20/30 Rule:
Venture-capitalist Guy Kawasaki came up with this popular method after years of listening to hundreds of shallow, long, and unsuccessful sales pitches. It’s quite simple: a virtual presentation should have ten slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and contain no font smaller than 30 points.
Ten slides are the optimal number because no average person can understand and retain more than ten concepts in the course of a business meeting; 20 minutes is the amount of time it should take to present to have 40 minutes for follow-up discussions.
Finally, using bigger fonts will force you to use fewer words, making you think through and memorize your key points, therefore improving your presentation.
Outline the problem with a solution:
Focus on what’s new or distinctive about your product or service, and explain how it can help address the end user’s problems.
If you’re pitching to investors, you also need to explain what’s in it for them. Outline the benefits head on, and your investors will believe that you understand them by considering their wants and delivering a good solution.
Pre-record a demo of your product:
A product demo illustrates how your product works by showing it in action, making it a compelling way to communicate your product’s value to prospective investors.By pre-recording your product demo, you can avoid glitches in products – particularly if they’re still in the early/beta stage – or issues with logins or features not working optimally.
4. Create an Engaging Pitch Deck
You can pitch virtually the same way you would in person, but it takes more planning. Because the conversation is happening online, it’s even more critical that you have resources and data at your disposal to be compelling and engaging.
Use a pitch deck template:
Do you want to leave your audience with positive takeaways about your presentation and your startup? In that case, focus on a pitch deck design that keeps text to a minimum and stands out visually. Additionally, make sure it follows your brand guidelines to maintain cohesion across all your marketing materials.
Choose stunning/engaging visuals:
A polished pitch deck can mean the difference between an unsuccessful sales pitch and one that gets funding for your product. Include visuals that engage your audience and draw out key messages more clearly.
Source: NeoMam Studios
Keep in mind that your goal should be to offer a virtual presentation that inspires, educates, and empowers.
Consider presentation trends:
When putting together your next presentation, pay attention to the latest graphic design trends to ensure your pitch deck really stands out. Not only do your slides need to look appealing, but they also need to present your information and ideas in the most comprehensible format possible.
One way of achieving this is through researching the latest visual presentation trends that are easy to customize and make your virtual pitch engaging and appealing.
Visualize data and key points:
Visuals should drive your virtual presentation. To do so, you should try to present interesting data and information along with attractive and memorable content.
Remember to clearly identify subsections and topics, emphasize key points, and use visual metaphors or data visualization to complement what you’re saying.
5. Practice Makes Perfect!
Even if you have pastexperience at giving sales pitches, it may take some time to become used to pitching via a computer camera. With a few practice rounds, you’ll be able to strike the ideal balance between giving your pitch a professional appearance withoutsacrificing in-person authenticity.
Don’t be afraid to use nonverbal cues such as hand gestures and facial expressions as long as they don’t distract from your main message.
Practice on colleagues, take feedback and refine your pitch:
One of the key aspects of using virtual meeting software is the ability to record all your sessions and play them back. And, while you’re at it, it’s advisable to ask for feedback from your colleagues or friends too.
A few questions you can ask them are:
- Would you fund this business?
- Is there any critical question I didn’t answer?
- Were you amazed by the sales pitch? Or did it seem dull?
- Did my voice and image appear clearly, or did it look faint/grainy?
Go over your pitch as many times as necessary until you’re completely satisfied with it. You want to make sure that your presentation captivates potential investors while emphasizing your product or services.
Each viewer will arrive at your virtual presentation with a unique set of experiences and backgrounds, so be prepared to answer a range of questions. Anticipate potential questions and how you will respond to them – and don’t forget those curly, left-field questions!
When practicing your demo for coworkers or family members, ask them to help you create a comprehensive list of all the possible questions that may be asked during your presentation.
Write a script:
Begin by creating a presentation outline or script with a logical flow. Keep each section brief, precise, and simple to understand. You do not have to memorize your script word for word, but you will need to get familiar enough with it so you can speak about each point in a conversational tone.
Follow up with investors for feedback:
After you’ve finished your demo, continue the conversation by sharing your slide deck and following up with your potential investors. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because they heard your sales pitch once, they understood it completely.
Thank the audience for their time in your follow-up message, highlight the value your product can provide them, and propose a set of next steps to take action.
Follow These Tips To Nail Your Next Virtual Pitch
While you may have used video conferencing to deliver sales pitches in the past, there’s no debating that virtual pitches are now the main way of presenting to clients and investors.
Since you have a one-time opportunity to impress, it’s worth taking the time to follow these recommendations to craft a memorable virtual presentation and ensure that all eyes (and hopefully investment) will go to your product.
Originally published Nov 02, 2021, updated May 02, 2022