By now we all know that first impressions count.

How to create a strong sales pitch

People make up their mind fast – the common advice you hear is the 7-second rule: You have seven seconds to make your first (and somewhat lasting) impression.

Newer research indicates that you might have even less time. A lot less. 1/10th of a second is all it takes for someone to create a mental model of you.

As an entrepreneur, you are presenting your sales pitch or simply telling your story. And as first impressions truly count – how do use those first few seconds for maximum effect?

Sadly I see way too many entrepreneurs start their story with them:

“Hi. I am Pascal Finette, Vice President of Singularity University. Before I was at eBay, Mozilla and Google; founded a few startups; built and ran a venture fund and did a whole bunch of other fun things.”

I lost you.

Some entrepreneurs launch into the problem statement:

“Did you know that one in ten Americans has a problem with bed bugs? Bed bugs are a vicious, sticky, nasty problem – causing all kinds of health issues and costing home owners millions of dollars. The common bed bug is found in…”

Unless I am obsessed with bed bugs – I am lost.

Pitching, selling or just telling your story is not a Shakespearean drama – you don’t get extra points for a slow, dramatic reveal.

Get to the point, make people understand what you’re doing and then, and only then, do you have the stage to truly rope me in with your carefully crafted narrative.

I suggest you start with a very simple formula:

Tell me what you do in one sentence. Then tell me in your next sentence why you are doing what you’re doing.

You have only a few seconds for people to make up their mind about you (personally I go by the six-second rule). If it takes you two minutes to explain what you’re doing – you have lost me.

With that being said:

There is no one single formula to present your sales pitch. You need to find what works for you, your company and the product or service you are creating.

As a good rule of thumb I would aim to have a clear, concise, single sentence explanation of what you’re doing in the first 20-30 sec and lead with a strong opener (which can be anything from literally this explanation, a short and gripping problem statement or a personal story about why you are doing what you’re doing).

And practice your opening (and ending for that matter) over and over again – ideally in front of an audience which can give you feedback. You have six seconds to win the first impression battle.

What is your opening statement?

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