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Flying high with a perfect pitch

I spend some of my time each week acting as a business mentor for a group of young entrepreneurs at the local high school. They are taking part in a Young Enterprise competition and have to form and run their own limited company for a school year. The process covers everything from coming up with an idea for a product or service to registering a limited company and trying to make a profit, competing against other high schools from across the country.

I’ve always been inspired by the amazing ideas the young people come up with, but was blown away by my most recent group, which have proved a fantastic example of having solved a potential customer’s problem – and therefore how easy it is to get in front of the right prospect.

If I told you we were flown from Leeds Bradford to London, picked up and given star treatment for the day, including pitching to senior executives of a global blue chip brand, I bet you’d want to know more.

Finding a solution for your customer, not a customer for your solution is something I often preach with my clients. It’s so much easier to solve a customer’s problem and therefore have a guaranteed market than to develop something you have to go out and create a market for.

After all, having a thorough understanding of your market allows you to recognise potential solutions and customers much more easily. Having a clearly-defined solution makes it much easier to get a foot in the door to pitch your idea.

The young people I’m supporting have come up with an amazing concept which solves a well known problem for the airline industry and we spent the day pitching to British Airways’ creative and customer marketing heads. These 14 year old budding entrepreneurs had clearly identified a problem, developed a cost-effective solution. They pitched to BA and received both positive feedback on the pitch quality and a green light to work together.

It’s exciting for them as the early indications are that their invention could be commercially viable. It’s exciting for me as I get to give something back by continuing to support these amazing young people.

Are you getting in front of the right prospects to pitch? Do you have as many positive outcomes as you would like? Are you competing with other businesses with the same product and the same pitch?

Is your business clearly solving an issue for your potential customers and are you articulating that in a way that makes them sit up and listen (or fly you down to London at their expense?) And if not, how can you refine your proposition so the next potential customer who comes your way can’t help but buy from you?

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