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Between airports, airplanes and transit lounges

Startup Trek: Pitching lessons

  1. If possible always have multiple sales pitches for a meeting. A pitch could be for a product, a service, a referral or even information about the industry that isn’t widely available. For the US trip it was Alchemy Risk Manager, Outsourced research, two investment banking deal and selling Pakistan as an investment destination (product ideas for FX, Money Market and Equity funds)).
  2. Try as many free pitches (no loss of face or credibility or opportunity if you fail) in front of friends and family as possible. Use their reactions to tweak the pitch. Don’t be shy. Tell them what you are doing, what you are selling and why you are in their home at 7 am in the morning before they have had a chance to grab their first cup of coffee.
  3. Every now and then you will meet someone who will whack all the balls you throw at him out of the park. Don’t let that get to you. In most cases, this villainous perfect batter will come back with a peace offering. You would be surprised how often that happens. People are in general nice; they don’t like seeing you fail as long as you are not a pain. Fall with grace, and if they can, they will help.
  4. Generally this happens when you start talking before listening. If you would like to reduce the occurrence of (3) above, listen first and talk less.
  5. For every trip that is going to cost you have at-least one big pitch planned right towards the end, preceded by many small trial pitches.
  6. Do your research on who you are meeting and have a clear agenda and an objective for the meeting (introduction, referral, sales call, action items)
  7. Have your follow up emails and marketing collateral ready so that you can follow up before they forget who you were.
  8. Keep an open mind.
  9. And stay away from T-mobile (great rates but lousy service and connectivity) and Starbucks (save the cash for cab fares).
  10. In an introductory, investigative round, take any meeting you can get. In a formal sales round after the investigative round is over, only do qualified sales visits.
  11. While an onsite trip to a client or a prospect is an expensive deal in terms of expenses and travel time, sometimes you have to meet people in person and shake their hands to close a deal.

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