So you've gotten organized, you're managing your time effectively, you've made progress creating your business concept, and you're networking like a champ. You're proving that you may soon belong with the heavy hitters and aren't easily intimidated. And by the way, congrats -- you've just locked down a big meeting!
Wait...what do you do now? You've never been in a 1-on-1 meeting with a big player in your industry who actually takes you seriously enough to give you some of their time, and there's no roadmap for this kind of thing.
Not to worry -- you can create one. By answering a few simple questions in detail, you'll have some solid direction to help guide your preparation.
Step 1 - Your Ideal Meeting
What is this potential meeting supposed to be covering? Why are you having it? In short...
What do you want from this person?
The first step towards preparing for any pivotal situation is assessing and visualizing exactly how you want it to go. When it goes perfectly, what will you get from the person you're meeting with?
Let's assume that this person has no background or briefing on what you're pitching them. You need to prepare a condensed version for them in which you...
- Transition from chit chat and small talk to pitching to them
- Explain your concept concept clearly
- Deliver your pitch with confidence and enthusiasm
- Spend some time approaching things from their perspective, and crafting your pitch in a way that you'd respond positively to if you heard it pitched to you.
Practice the delivery. You don't want to memorize anything (if you do, and you forget a line or two, it will throw you off and things may fall apart), but know the order of your talking points well.
Be calm, cool and collected and let the information flow.
Step 2 - Call to Action
When you're diving into your personal background (which tells the person that you know your stuff and why they should trust you), and quickly summarizing your research and data (which you should have on hand -- and if you don't, get some), it all needs to be leading up to a call to action. Don't beat around the bush with this.
Grow a pair, and ask for what you want.
It's as simple as that. The fact is, when it comes to actually asking for the sale, many people balk. They mistakenly believe that they're now building a relationship, and they don't want to sabotage it by asking for the sale and getting rejected. Compare this with the guy who connects with the girl of his dreams, but is too afraid to ask her out.
If you never ask, you'll never ever get a "yes."
Don't ever ask for something you don't think you can deliver on or believe you're worth. Also, remember that your call to action should either be prefaced by or immediately followed by something powerful. That is, you need to...
Step 3 - Bring Something to the Table
Here's the harsh reality of business...
People are selfish.
With that in mind, you need to make sure you're telling them what's in it for them.
- Why should they do business with you?
- What will you be getting out of the deal?
- Are you trustworthy and credible?
- Why should they believe in you?
- What happens if you don't deliver?
Know the answers to each of these questions, and over-deliver. Make it sound as if they're getting more out the deal than you are, and minimize or eliminate their perceived risk at every turn.
Now that you've got some direction for the content of your pitch, it's time to analyze...
Step 4 - Presentation Format and Environment
The ideal way to present things -- whether it's a bound text-based summary you hand them while out to lunch or dinner (an informal setting) or a PowerPoint presentation in an actual conference room-type environment (a formal setting) -- will depend largely on the dynamics of the relationship you already have (or don't have) with the person you're meeting with.
If you have a choice, opt for an informal setting, but make sure your presentation materials are still stellar. This creates an unintimidating, pressure-free environment that encourages the construction of a future friendship -- and people always want to do business with their friends.
Not only will you be communicating your wants and needs effectively to the person you're meeting with, but you'll also be demonstrating that you're prepared, confident and you can deliver results when it counts -- and you'll also be showing them that you're the type of person they'll actually enjoy doing business with.
You've now got the content, the setting, and the format of your pitch hashed out. Now there's just one more thing you need to keep in mind.
Step 5 - The Growing Fish
So what if you're a small company or an individual pitching to a big company or a highly-successful person? They've got no reason to work with you, or to even give you an ounce of their time. You're a small fish in a big pond. What can you do?
This one's easy. Give them something for free.
Promise to provide them with a product or service absolutely free of charge -- no strings attached. They'll have no reason to say no -- and a high percentage of the time, they'll be so flattered by your offer and ability to deliver something of value for free that they'll eventually offer something in return.
THIS, my friend, is where the magic happens. They can see the passion you have for working with them, and they get the chance to see what you're made of risk-free. Now you've got the chance to prove yourself in a big way to somebody who can prove to be MASSIVE for your company's future.
In summary, know who you're meeting with and why. Do your homework on them. Figure out how to relate to them, what their interests are, and make friends. Don't dive straight into business. Engage them in an interesting way first, show them how they benefit from working with you, then minimize risk on their part so the decision to work with you isn't a big one.
Note: This is an excerpt from Travis Steffen's new book, The Art of the Hustler, which will be released on December 4th.
Travis Steffen is the founder of WorkoutBOX, ActionJunkie Labs, and a ton of other online startups. Travis is also the author of The Art Of The Hustler, and star of the upcoming reality show, Pushing The Limit. Find him on Twitter @TravisSteffen.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.