Effective Pitching to Corporates.

how to effectively pitch to corporates in Kenya

How to Effectively Pitch to Corporates

Womenwork organised, ‘how to get to yes” workshop on 24th October 2019 at Dalberg Offices. The session was curated to empower anyone who is keen on learning how to effectively pitch to corporates. Pitching is a skill that is learnt on the job. Getting a yes is always an adrenaline hit. But so many times, pitches resu lt to No. So how do you know, you are communicating the right message, in the right way to the right person? Mastering the art of asking is essential to convincing any corporate to support your idea or join you as a partner.

The speakers were: Veronica Ogeto-Tchoketch, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Innovation, Safaricom Ltd, Waithera Kabiru, Head of Media Futures, Digital and Agency at East African Breweries Limited and the fabulous and talented June Gachui, Lawyer and Principal consultant- JGIP consultants, who shared an entrepreneur’s perspective of what works and doesn’t work. The session was moderated by Sandra Kimokoti– Project Manager, Darlberg.

Information overload, loading…

The session was very engaging, in terms of content, presentation and the vibes. As articulated below, the content was deduced from the conversational presentations by the speakers.

Where do you start?

Before any pitch:

How do you identify the right corporate for your product/service?: 

  • Go through content posted by the corporate and its affiliates online. Ask around within your networks. Understand what they are about, what are they passionate about, what are they keen on? Sending your proposal to the wrong audience is your mistake.
  • Listen in during Annual financial reporting meetings. Deduce what are they planning for the next year.
  • What is the organisation looking for? Are they the right fit for your brand/firm? 
  •  Identify the value proposition for them and for you. In short, how do they benefit? Be clear.
  • Understand your targeted corporate’s budget cycles. Not all businesses start their Q1 in January. Plan with this in mind as some projects could be incorporated during the budgeting and planning, some can be assimilated all year round depending on organization culture, budget flexibility, and how impressive the proposal is.

How do you identify the decision-makers?

  • If it’s a publicly listed firm, the Directors are listed. Go through their website.
  • Keep hunting strategically on who it should be. Don’t pitch to, too many people in the same firm. 
  • When you meet an executive at any firm you wish to work with, pitch. And also, let them know what your firm does. Sometimes, people are always looking for something and your paths might align.
  • Some corporates curate proposal sessions for unique propositions. Know what works for different organizations. It’s always a great idea to pitch to a diverse team of individual’s who represent different business units.
  • While you could know the executives of the firm, most decisions are made by the team members whose KPIs you are aligned to. Going to the very top as your point of contact might not always be a wise move.

 Be reasonable, it needs to be an easy YES. 

Disclaimer: Don’t Do Anything for free. The organisation going forward will not agree to pay you after that. But, if you are looking for a starting point, be clear with your ask. You could work on a specific project so as to acquire a referee or ride on the corporates brand. Look for added value on how your brand will benefit.

Content of the pitch:

What do you pitch? How do you structure the content of your pitch?

  •  Make sure your pitch stands out. Bring it to life creatively using PPT, a word/PDF document or media such as videos. The conversation also works.
  • Be clear and specific in your pitch. What are you looking for? It could be; commercial partnership with revenue share, being a supplier of a particular service/product, co-creation of a joint product? Come with a clear ask. It allows the audience to give feedback fast.    
  • Big picture: Differentiate your ask and incorporate use cases.
  • Tech presentations align more with Demos. Be ready to WOW the audience.
  •  Do research. Before sending a proposal, its always a good idea to have a preliminary meeting to understand and scope for more information. This might not always work, use discretion.
  •  Hit the nail on the head. Ensure you align your ask with the organization’s goals.
  • One size fits all, doesn’t work. Tailor-make the pitch to the right corporate needs and audience.
  • The right timing is critical. Do not over-prepare. You might miss out on an opportunity as you took too much time to prepare.
  • How will your pitch stand out? Think in terms of; alignment with a new product that has been launched in the market, Value proposition to existing product/service, alignment with CSR objectives
  • Different firms have different ways of incorporating pitches and proposals. Being referred to someone else from an executive doesn’t automatically mean, your pitch will be approved. Different cultures have different ways of incorporating this into the funnel.

All systems go! During the pitch:

  • Be engaging. Show charisma, passion of what you are presenting
  •  Job interview principles apply in grooming, being well prepared, your business and individual track record.
  • Appear to grasp the competence of what you are presenting about.
  •   Be convincing and captivating. The first 5-10 minutes are critical in capturing interest and attention of the audience.
  •  End your pitch with an action point. It could be setting a date for the follow-up, requesting an on the ground trial/pilot. The action plan needs to be very specific, measurable with clear outcomes and deliverables.
  •  Under promise, over-deliver. Always. The world has enough hype presentations. Present what you can implement as a firm or through a joint venture with another firm.
  •  Pitch in front of friends or your mirror. Practice makes perfect. 

Non-disclosure agreements:

–      During the presentation/pitch, take minutes/ notes. During the presentation, request that they sign a Non-disclosure agreement. NDA implies that you value what you are sending/presenting, you are professional, and are prepared to do a transaction. Ensure it’s signed by all parties and keep copies of the same. Make sure the NDA is short, succulent and easy to understand for both parties incorporating mutually benefits of the partnership. If an individual/ firm doesn’t want to sign, RUN! Mutually benefiting NDAs incorporates the confidential details by either party and they would like to keep it as is.

–      As a corporate, its wise to see the value in an NDA. It’s even better when its sent from the corporate incorporating mutual benefits and protection. Sometimes, partnership on a page is a route the organization can use. It allows both parties to sign a contextual NDA.

–      Separate ideas from expression. Ideas cannot be protected by NDAs. An Expression in a tangible format, with different sellable parts, can be covered by an NDA.

–    Licensing as an option, allows you to use the same service/product to multiple users.

–      Feel free to protect something. Pitch. And use joint venture partnerships to deliver.

 After the pitch:

Whew! You hit the nail on the head, then what?

  •  Send an NDA before you send in your proposal
  • Follow up on the progress of the pitch/proposal
  • Look for ways to create a relationship/rapport with the individuals you pitched to whichever way the pitch goes.
  • Once the contracts have been signed, ensure you deliver and implement what you said you would do.
  •  Appreciate clients who’ve supported your business or career. This could be a gift, an event ticket, a meal etc. Different organization’s apply different gifting policies. Align with what is accepted.

Now go on, and ACE your next pitch!