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Piquing Tech Seeker interest
In the Venture Capital and equity capital raising world much is made of the need for, and value of, having an effective Elevator Pitch—a mini-presentation that, on the fly and in any circumstance, you can give that highlights what your company does or makes, and the kinds of solutions you offer. Objective: sufficiently to capture someone's interest that an often chance, and very briefing, contact can be parleyed into set-up of a more substantial meeting.
The world of strategic alliances, business partnering and technology collaborations is in many ways very different but - especially early in the process - the need sometimes similarly exists to capture the attention of those other business entities with whom you would wish to do business. In the context of inknowvation@work® such a case is when the sponsoring Tech Seeker is deciding which among the SBIR awardees have applied to participate they judge it useful to meet.
Senior decision-makers in a major corporation are providing a limited number of SBIR awardees judged to have expertise relevant to their needs an extended period of access and opportunity to discuss in some detail the types of technical and business endeavor that that large firm are not only planning but where they see partnering with a small firm as a viable - indeed, likely - option.
In this context and to serve our purposes, therefore, we are designating such a piece your Business Prologue.
A cross between the attention-catching, verbal content of the Elevator Pitch and the written synopsis of the detailed document to follow that is the Abstract you submit with any SBIR Proposal, the Business Prologue is a brief (500 words or less) piece provided (by us on your behalf) to those personnel in a Major or mid-sized corporation in their role as Tech Seeker and with whom you would like to meet.
The following are a few tips as you tackle this task.
- Stay focused to the reason for the piece
The objective is . In the short time you have, you want to find a way to pique interest and highlight what makes your offering unique. This is not the format to begin a story or dive too deeply into detail. Think about the bigger messages that help set your company or organization apart and make sure those are relevant to the here and now.
- Know your target
Your pitch is far more likely to be compelling if you know your target and their needs. There are many things you could say about what your business has to offer, and you may be tempted to only reveal what's worked in the past. But not everyone listening will respond the same way. Choose those things you know are of most interest to your listener—what your service or product can do for them.
- It's not about you
Don't spend too much time highlighting your own achievements and going over past accomplishments unless you can tie them directly to the reward for your audience. They'll have plenty of time to find out about you if you end up with a working relationship.
- Short is not easy
Preparation is the key to confidence, so don't ever wing it. A first impression only happens once. Respect your audience enough to prepare well; that includes arming yourself with succinct answers to the toughest questions that might follow your pitch. Be flexible enough to be guided by your listener and their reaction to what you're saying. If he or she interrupts with questions, make sure you answer them
- Solve a problem
Your elevator pitch can't just be a set of unrelated capabilities or a list of services. Focus on the problem you solve for the listener—the solution you are offering to their specific need. If your audience has to ask, "How does this help me?" or "Why should I care?" you're in trouble.
- Keep it short
Under the best of circumstances, people have limited attention spans. The fact that you have to deliver a quick pitch—whether because of an unexpected encounter, a change of plans, the impatient client who says, "Walk with me"—you’re already at a disadvantage. In the wise words of Winston Churchill, "Be clear. Be brief. Be seated."