PITCH YOUR STARTUP TO BUSINESSES: THE DESIGNERS WAY

italian artisan working in lutemaker workshop

Written by: Randy Ellis

Lost another potential client's interest?

Pitching to businesses can be painful. But if you want to be in the business of business, you have to deal with other businesses, period. Approaching a company you want to work with is a science. What are those formulas? Here are some to consider:

What are their busiest days of the week? Busiest hours? Do they take lunch? If so, in the store or out of the store? Those are a few to think about. You may ask, “Why do I need to know those things?” Simple. Because they're running a business. You have a narrow margin of opportunity when dealing with a owner or manager who has very little time to hear you dribble on about your great product. Especially on the sales floor. Be able to respect their time. Think about it, if I was in the middle of producing my final assets for a design job and some stranger walked into my office going on and on about a product/service. That person lost me at hello. Apply professional etiquette for maximum interest. The average businesses gets a ton of solicitations and most have their method of handling those solicitors (firehose included). Do your homework on these companies. Compliment their recent marketing campaign featuring that new product they stock. Trust me as a designer salesman, designing and delivering your elevator pitch is difficult, but with some practice and learning from my failures and successes, your client list will be bursting at the seams.

Wearing multiple hats when starting your own business is the normal for most entrepreneurs. I'm a designer and have been one for over 14 years so putting on the sales hat is always a challenge but before any big meeting I tell myself:

No one can tell your story better than yourself.”

If you're the only one running your business, guess what? You're the only one selling it too.

With that in mind, it does help to have your essential box of gear and your speech ready to help you appear in control and knowledgeable of the product/service you're pitching. There are many creative ways you can show off your business idea that may not require any use of technology (song n' dance?). In this article we're focusing on a configuration that involves an eCommerence smartphone app. With that in mind, when I'm preparing for a moment in my business career where every second counts, I want to wow my potential clients right out the gate. Here are some steps I use when dealing with B2B clients:

1.) SHOW ALL YOUR CARDS, RIGHT AWAY

When presenting yourself as a business, one of your most important cards in your pitch deck is transparency. Be upfront with where you are currently in development if asked. Afterwards, follow up with why you've picked them specifically to come aboard early to help “pave the way” with this new revenue strategy. If they decide to cut straight to the “What does it cost me?” question — answer with honesty. Give them your fee structures and offer a special rate for businesses who sign up quickly. If you found a company who loves your idea and wants to start right away but you're not at that stage and want to compile a waiting list — say that. However, follow up with your reasons and provide a verbal roadmap of where you expect to start providing services for them to use.

2.) LOSE THE POWERPOINT

No one, I repeat no one wants to see a Powerpoint presentation during their free time. Unless they have a weird love of being bored. Decks, no matter how design heavy and to the point they can be, are only for certain arenas and a cash register counter isn't one of them. This is the moment where you acknowledge and respect their time. Memorize and verbally state your key success factors for their business in 3-4 bullet points. Talk about strategies that can increase their profits through your offerings and write down their email address and email the presentation to them afterwards.

3.) SHOW THEM THEIR FUTURE

Even though I just told you to trash the Powerpoint. One another hand, I am telling you to show what the product/service will be. The crystal ball effect I like to call it. Remember, if you can't showcase the business, you don't have a business. As a designer, I use two items when showing my product. 1.) A Smartphone 2.) A Laptop. The great thing is I can use one or the other but combining them using these 2 software apps creates a great stage where your tech savviness will shine and also impress your client.

WINDOWS/ANDROID-OS USERS: This article will focus solely on MAC/IPHONE USERS. I will update this article in the future providing a solution to presenting your product using those devices.

*HOT TIP: Show your app in action without developing a line of code:

What you need:

The purpose of this method is to show your client your vision and how they fit into it. Results may vary depending on your level of effective talking skills so once you set this up practice, practice, and practice your pitch.

Step 3A: IMPORT APP SCREENSHOTS

Assuming you've already designed a website, app mockups optimized for presenting on your smartphone. Import your screens from DropBox into your iPhones photo album:

IMG_0560

There are many methods of importing your designs from your desktop into your phone. Dropbox is the best process at the moment to keep this process down to as many steps as possible.

Step 3B: PREP YOUR SCREENS FOR INTERACTION

After importing your screens into your iPhone. Open up your copy of P.O.P (Prototyping On Paper).

IMG_0561

P.O.P at the moment is the best solution for designers creating for the iPhone 5's resolution. You have the big tag prototyping environments such as Axure and iRise who offers that ability now but for budget and simplicity sake P.O.P. is the way to go.

IMG_0562

Afterwards, import your screens from your iPhone's photo album into P.O.P. (you'll have to create a new project first and name it before importing.

Step 3C: MAP YOUR SCREENS

IMG_0564

As you can see above P.O.P gives you the ability to add hotspot layers (above) to your screens so when that area is pressed it will create a transition effect into the next screen. You can also add transition effects such as Fade, Back, Rise, Dismiss, etc. Some faux app animations is a nice plus (below).

IMG_0565

Once you've place your screens in the proper workflow, here comes the fun part. Mapping your screens. Mapping takes a lot of time, it involves foresight in knowing how your app will work in real world scenarios. If the user previous states was the setting screen, if they hitting the hotspots back button it should go back to the setting not the log-in screen. If you're winging it and you haven't charted your architecture aka how your app functions. It's best to grab a sheet or paper and number your screens. In my case I had 9 screens. I don't' recommend more than 12 unless this is a enterprise client. Keep it simple.

Step 3D: REFLECTOR + P.O.P. = CRAZY DELICIOUS PROTOTYPING

Once you have completed your mapping process inside of P.O.P for iPhone. Head over to your computer and pop open (no pun intended) Reflector for Mac. Reflector gives you the ability to wirelessly broadcast your iPhone screen onto your Mac screen. But rather than read about it, watch this video of it in action.

Reflector – Your iPhone or iPad. On your Mac or PC. from Squirrels LLC on Vimeo.

Pretty neat huh? Think of your iPhone as a remote control and your MacBook as a big screen tv. If you're in a situation with multiple owners, crowding around s 4″ screen sounds awkward. I can't think of a better method for rapidly pitching to a prospect or investor.

SIDE NOTES:

Couple of other things to mention about using this method:

  • You MUST have a WiFi connection and both devices present on the same network. In the event you don't have internet access. Reflector relies on a internet connection. It's not in your best interest to ask your potential client what their WiFi password is. What if they don't know the password? Or they give you the password but the network is MAC address filtered. Best you have a portable hotspot or the personal hotspot feature enabled on your iPhone.
  • If the internet is not working for you. Reflect has another neat feature where you can record your iPhone screens activity for playback later. This method not only can be a backup but it can be your primary method of showing your product in action without an data connection. The only drawback is you lose the interactivity and you'll have to memorize the screens as they play.

IN CONCLUSION:

Using this method to present your product to your client in the right manner will surely get them to show more interest in your product. Remember, keep the speech down to 5 minutes or less if you're presenting on their sales floor. Save the details for later and ask to have lunch with them at a later date. Oh, leave a business card 😉

Up Next: PITCHING TO CONSUMERS: THE DESIGNERS WAY

Randy Ellis is a public speaker and Ambassador for Appsterdam Chicago. With over 14 years of design experience including branding and marketing. He consults startups and existing businesses on how to increase their softwares effectiveness and identity in a competitive market.

 

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