Over the past fifteen years (seven of which have been in blockchain and crypto), I’ve been fortunate to work for a global bank, a blockchain and crypto startup, and two global management consulting firms. I’ve been on both sides of the boardroom table when it comes to sales pitches. Based on lessons learned (the hard way), I wanted to share my top ten tips for blockchain and crypto startups and vendors when pitching to corporates:
1. Objective / Outcome
When reaching out to prospective clients via email or LinkedIn, be polite, brief, and clear about why you want to meet and how your product or service might benefit the potential customer. Multiple lengthy paragraphs will result in parts not being read or the whole message ignored. The adage ‘If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter‘ comes to mind.
Top Tip: Personalisation
- Address the person you are messaging by their name and make an effort to show you are sending a tailored note and not just a mass email.
A simple but essential thing to do. When a potential client/customer agrees to meet, share a sample agenda to ensure you will cover what is important for them, not just you. Remember, this is about their business needs and how your product or service will help them.
Top Tip: Check In
- Drop a note to the primary client point of contact the day before to ensure the meeting is going ahead; share the agenda again and the attendees on your side.
3. Videoconferencing Platforms
Do your homework. Find out what videoconferencing platform the company uses and send out a meeting invite using that platform. For example, many large corporates use Microsoft Teams and not Zoom or Google Hangouts. Sending out an invite to the wrong platform may mean the meeting starts late (as folks have to move from one platform to another, and or one device to another), or worst case, it may mean the meeting will have to be rescheduled.
Top Tip: Firm up on details in advance of the meeting
- If in doubt, when confirming the agenda, ask which is their preferred video conferencing platform.
4. Punctuality & Introductions
Join the call 5 minutes before and keep introductions short. You most likely have 30 minutes to get your message across to secure a follow-up meeting and focus on telling your product’s story, not your story. You can share your bios and LinkedIn profiles after the call if needs be. I was once on the receiving end of a 30-minute pitch, and the introductions went on for 20 minutes. Needless to say, I did not get a good understanding of the product; there was almost no time for Q&A, and as a result, there was no follow-up meeting.
Top Tip: Timebox
- Introductions on both sides should not take more than 5 minutes. Send your bios in a deck before the meeting or as part of the follow-up.
5. Camera & Appearance
Turn your camera on. In the virtual/hybrid world we live in, do everything you can to engage with the folks at the other end of the camera. Have a clean background, and if in doubt, use a filter or blurred background.
Top Tips: Dress to impress & quick tech check
- If you were pitching in person, more than likely, you would be dressed somewhat formally. Perhaps not a bad idea to adopt a similar approach. I’m not talking a suit and tie, but a collared shirt is never a bad look. Better to be overdressed rather than underdressed.
- Before the session goes live, check what you look like and ensure you can clearly see your head and shoulders. No camera shots up the nose or head chopped in two.
- Check the light is okay
- Ensure your mic and speakers are working
Less is more. Keep your first meeting pitch deck short, clean and simple. You can always share a more detailed deck after the meeting and hopefully as part of a follow-up meeting. Also, have a plan in place in case someone on the team experiences connectivity issues
Top Tip: Areas to cover:
- Problem (what are you trying to solve)
- Solution (what is your unique and value-add solution)
- High-level architecture (how does your solution work)
- Investors & Funding (helps to build credibility)
- Credentials (who have you worked with in the past)
- Team (what is the experience and background of the team)
Large corporates typically have complex IT landscapes. One of the considerations corporates will consider is, “how can I integrate this?“. SaaS/cloud is the preferred choice for startups but is not always the preferred choice for corporates.
Top Tip: Put yourself in their shoes
- Be prepared to share how your SaaS model works, focusing on easy install and risk management and your thinking about on-prem solutions (if possible).
8. Focus On Your Ask & Provide Insights
The overall purpose of the meeting is for you to share an overview of your product or service and land key messages. Please don’t lose sight of that, and steer the conversation back to the problems your product solves and the value it creates. Where possible, avoid rabbit holes and take everyone on the same solution journey. For example, if there are technical people on the call, not everyone may be technical. Tech conversations can alienate part of the group.
Top Tip: Offer specific deep-dive sessions
- As a meaningful follow-up, offer separate dive sessions (tech, risk, legal) and/or share documentation (e.g. API info) after the call as part of the follow-up.
Top Tip: Share insights
- Clients always want to know what is going on in the market, what the trends are and what other companies are doing. Make a list of three key themes (on an anonymous basis) and share what those points are. Leave the group with the feeling they learned something from the call.
9. Say ‘Thank You’ & Share A Brief Actions Recap
At the end of the meeting, thank attendees for their time and do a quick recap of any actions. This sixty-second activity demonstrates that you are organised, listen to the client, and are keen to progress the conversation.
Top Tip: Thank people individually
- If it is not a large group, take the time to thank each person individually, and say their name while doing so
10. Follow Up & Feedback
The goal of the meeting should be to have another meeting. Corporates meet with lots of startups every day. It’s up to you to follow up, but don’t become annoying to the client. If they are not interested, look to get a few quick bullets as to why they are not interested. This data is invaluable and should move to your product backlog.
Top Tip: Create a tracker
- Create a tracker in a sheet or use free versions of HubSpot or Salesforce to track who you have met with and where they are along your pipeline.
Let me know what points you would add in the comments below.
*Other points to consider include good internet connectivity and limited background noise (preferably none).