Focus on the story, not on the sale
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Photo Credit: Tech in Asia

ZipMatch co-founder shares how to pitch to all stakeholders, not just investors

Tech in Asia

Most advice to entrepreneurs about pitching focuses on doing so to investors. But ZipMatch co-founder and chief revenue officer Chow Paredes believes other stakeholders are just as important.

Paredes gave a talk on pitching at the Pitch and Get Funded Event held by the Young Entrepreneurs Society of the Philippines at Freelancer.com’s Philippines office recently. The event was attended by a mix of students, investors, and fellow entrepreneurs.

Paredes shared that she felt most startups in the Philippines were overly preoccupied with pitching as part of fundraising, so she wanted to redefine how people saw the process.

She emphasized how important it is to excel at pitching to all stakeholders – be it an investor, a customer, a prospective employee, a media person, or a strategic partner – to be able to obtain the money, effort, and time needed to build and scale a company or an idea.

“Pitching is an attempt to convince someone to part from a resource that they have and you don’t,” she told the audience. “As a business, you are consistently pitching. If you stop, you’d be dead in the water. Pitch or perish.”

She adds, “Pitching is a skill, not a talent. Excellent pitching is a product of hard work and hours and hours of practice.”

A licensed real estate broker who finds herself constantly pitching to sell ZipMatch’s products and services, Paredes recognizes it’s not an easy task, so she has these tips for startups:

When pitching to investors/customers:

“Be nimble with what you will pitch.” As she expressed, there are several types of investors with several motivations, so the pitcher should be able to craft their pitch into something relevant to the audience. When speaking to a finance guy, discuss revenue; when speaking to someone who specializes in a particular domain, know what to talk about with them.

“Make sure you do your research, know exactly who you will talk to, and come prepared.” Paredes shared that when she went to the fundraising event Geeks On The Beach in 2013, she didn’t attend without doing her homework. She knew exactly which 10 investors would be there, familiarized herself with their faces, and pitched what was relevant to them.

“The secret to becoming a great pitcher is to be a great listener.” Make sure you understand the stakeholder’s needs and wants. She said this tenet is most applied when pitching to customers, who would be more apt to buy your product if you probed and listened for their pain points rather than opened with a hard sell.

When pitching to employees:

“Make people know they will be a part of a team that is all for creating a change.” While the option to earn more money is appealing to most young professionals, it is not their sole deciding factor when choosing a job. People nowadays are also looking for a more rewarding experience that involves addressing a particular problem and re-shaping an entire industry.

“Offer employees a seat on a rocketship.” This advice is inspired in part by Paredes’ hero, Sheryl Sandberg, who was told this by one of the Google founders when she was unsure what job to choose. As a result, Paredes always makes sure to describe how she plans to change a particular industry to potential recruits, along with how they fit into that picture.

She explained that while employees can easily turn down a regular job, they are unlikely to turn down an opportunity to shape an entire industry. That’s why recruiters must share their vision for how they want to change their respective space, along with how the person fits into this picture.

When pitching to the media:

“Focus on the story, not on the sale.” Paredes said that once companies begin to pioneer their industry, it will be important for them to share their success with the world. As such, it is key for entrepreneurs to pitch to the media, she said. Paredes feels that most Filipino entrepreneurs tend to focus on the product or service their company offers at the expense of losing what would get the average Filipino interested in them.

Her advice? Don’t tell people why they need to buy your product, instead emphasize your vision for your business and what problems you are solving. Earlier this year, ZipMatch launched their Explore platform. During the event, Paredes and her team discussed not only the technical aspects, but more importantly how the new feature will help people have a smarter home buying experience.

Editing by Malavika Velayanikal and Paul Bischoff

This post was originally published on Tech in Asia.

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