How to craft a powerful business pitch: a step-by-step guide

Do you have a groundbreaking idea for a new business? An innovative feature you want to pitch to your team? Or a new product idea that needs buy-in from your boss?

If you want to motivate others to get behind your project, you’ll need to craft and deliver a compelling business pitch.

An effective business pitch can help you sound like an authority in your industry. You can get a new product off the ground, gain investment and rally the necessary support.

Ultimately, a pitch can be the difference between your idea succeeding or not.

But how do you craft a pitch that will convert, motivate and inspire? Use this step-by-step guide to hone your message, convey your ideas succinctly and deliver the best pitch possible.

What is a business pitch?

A business pitch is a speech presented to others to persuade them to support your new product, idea or business. It will typically outline a key problem or opportunity and explain a proposed solution or avenue of action.

We often associate business pitches with entrepreneurs looking to gain buy-in from potential investors. However, an employee might use a pitch when they are looking for support to develop a new feature or product. Pitches are also useful for persuading customers to support a product or service.

The aim of preparing a business pitch is usually to gain funding, approval and other forms of support to push an idea forward.

Types of pitches in business

Business pitches vary depending on the end goal. Some of the most common pitch types include the following:

1. Investor pitch

You may need investment to turn an innovative idea for a business into reality.

Investor pitches are a common way for entrepreneurs to gather support, form key partnerships and raise the necessary funds to start a business or help an existing business grow.

Investor pitches outline how your product or service solves a key problem for customers or how it grasps an important opportunity. A pitch also clearly explains why investors ought to support the idea. Importantly, a pitch will show how investors will make a return on their investment.

2. Sales pitch

Sales pitches persuade customers to use your product or service by showing them what you’re offering and why it’s important. They cover key features and benefits of products and show how they differ from others in the market.

Generally, a sales pitch will highlight the core problem(s) customers face and then outline how this product, service or idea solves it.

3. Product pitch

A product pitch can help you progress if you’ve developed a new product or you have a product idea that needs investment. 

Product pitches involve presenting potential or existing products to promote their features and benefits to investors, employees and potential customers.

They show why this product matters, how it will address pain points for others and why it’s different from existing solutions.

4. Job pitch

A job pitch is a speech designed to motivate an employer to hire you or promote you to a more senior role. It usually involves outlining why you’re the right person for the job and summarizing your relevant qualifications, experience and background.

A job pitch can occur in various contexts, such as:

  • an elevator pitch at a networking event or job fair,
  • a discussion with your current employer, or
  • a formal job interview where you try to convince the employer that you’re the ideal candidate.

Job pitches can be useful for making a strong first impression, having more successful interactions with recruiters and, ultimately, advancing your career.

Step-by-step guide to developing a successful business pitch

Getting started with a business pitch can be intimidating. You might not know where to begin or how to succinctly and effectively explain your ideas.

Building a successful pitch can be relatively straightforward with the right planning.

This step-by-step guide can help you craft powerful and persuasive pitches. Investor pitches and product pitches are the main focus, but the principles also apply to many other pitch types. Let’s dive in.

1. Know who you’re pitching to

In business pitches, your audience matters. You need to understand who you’re pitching to and consider their point of view. This will enable you to present them with a pitch that’s relevant, inspiring and motivating.

Imagine you’re looking for investment. You’ll need to consider the investors you’re pitching to. This will help ensure you craft a pitch that’s relevant to them. You could ask questions, such as:

  • What industries do they invest in?
  • What stage do they invest in?
  • What matters to these investors?

Alternatively, if you’re pitching senior management about a new product idea, it’s essential to consider what the key motivators are for them. What are their pain points? Where do their interests lie? And how will you prove that this new idea makes business sense?

Think about shows like Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank where entrepreneurs present their product to investors. They need to be specific, providing benefits and numbers to win them over.

Considering who you’re presenting to at the outset will help you tailor your pitch. You can then make it highly relevant for your audience and more likely to convert.

2. Deeply understand the problem

What problem are you looking to solve? How will your idea improve someone’s life? These are the questions you must ask yourself.

Products and services are designed to solve problems or fulfill certain needs for customers. If they don’t, they won’t be relevant or useful.

Understanding the problem is the crux of your business pitch. You must deeply understand the challenge you’re solving and be able to explain concisely why your idea will be the ideal solution.

Use this sentence template as a guide:

I/we are addressing [insert problem] by providing [insert solution] to offer [insert benefits].

3. Consider your elevator pitch

In business, many people say you don’t truly understand your idea if you can’t explain it in a few short sentences. Effective business pitches are concise and compelling. The message is simple, and the pitch isn’t too verbose.

Considering your elevator pitch will help you distill your overall solution, idea or product into a few short sentences. The idea behind the elevator pitch is that you can present these short sentences during an elevator journey. Share:

  • who you are,
  • what you do/what product you have, and
  • who you are looking to connect with.

In the networking world, the person in front of you may not be your ideal client – but they may know someone who could be.

An elevator pitch is a good foundation on which to build the rest of your presentation. Although you should bear in mind that your final pitch probably won’t need to be that brief.

4. Have a compelling opener

All good pitches should start with a compelling opening statement, an interesting story or a piece of information that hooks the audience and makes them want to know more.

Ideally, you want and need a good hook to grab attention at the beginning and ensure your audience listens to what you say.

Consider whether there’s an interesting personal anecdote, case study or customer story you could tell that will draw your audience in at the outset.

5. Use the WHAC structure

You may find it helpful to use the WHAC method to structure your pitch effectively. It involves asking a series of questions to ensure you understand the key elements you’ll need to include in your pitch.

  • What is it, and what do you offer? Introduce your audience to the product, idea or service you’re offering.
  • How does it work? Clearly explain how the idea works.
  • Are you sure? Provide evidence and reasons to back up the claims you’re making and the benefits of the product or service.
  • Can you do it? Show how you can make the idea a reality through background research and other resources. 
  • 6. Prove you understand the competition

    You may think that your business idea is completely new and innovative. However, chances are someone has created something similar, even if it’s not the exact same thing. Showing your audience that you’ve done your research and that you deeply understand the competition is critical.

    Ensure you can tell the audience how your solution is different (and better) than other offerings in the market.

    7. Know your target audience

    Regardless of what your business idea is, you need to deeply understand your target audience, including their needs, pain points and preferences. Claiming that your product or idea is “for everyone” will be an immediate red flag.

    As a good entrepreneur, you’ll need to understand that you are targeting a specific audience with your solution. You will need to complete detailed market research to ensure market readiness. This research will also indicate whether the solution you propose will help solve the target market’s problems.

    8. Demonstrate financial savvy

    No investor or stakeholder wants you to waste funding on activities that aren’t going to generate return on investment.

    If you’re looking to win financial support, your investors need to feel confident that you’re financially literate. You need to demonstrate that you’re going to spend money in ways that will boost the chances of generating profit.

    The same goes in an organization when you’re pitching a new feature or product. The stakeholders need to know that this business spend will be worthwhile and lead to business growth over time.

    Demonstrating your understanding of the finances, the precise costs and the expected returns is critical for getting buy-in.

    9. Practice, practice, practice

    Delivering an effective pitch can take time and practice. You’re unlikely to present the perfect pitch without first polishing your speech and running through the delivery.

    Following a proven structure can help. You should also consider what’s known as “stage presence.” This involves developing your public speaking skills to become a more persuasive, engaging, natural and informative speaker. For example, you might use open body language, make eye contact with your audience and project your voice.

    If you’re nervous about speaking in front of others, know that you’re not alone. It’s fine to be nervous, but you’ll need to move on from it.

    To boost your skills and face your fear, you might consider:

    • attending public speaking classes like those Toastmasters offer,
    • working with a mentor or speaking coach, or
    • consistently doing pitches and talks to build your confidence over time.

    10. The ask and call to action

    So, what are the next steps? What do you want your audience to do after hearing your pitch? Do you want them to request more information, discuss the project in greater detail with you or take a specific action?

    Is what you’re actually asking for clear to your audience? For example, if you’re looking for investment, you’ll need to outline the precise figure you need and what ROI the investor can expect.

    You need to guide your audience to take action. To do this, make your call to action (CTA) clear and simple to act on. This will increase your chances of converting your audience.

    What to include in a business pitch: a handy checklist

    You might find this checklist useful for ensuring your pitch includes all the necessary elements:

    • A compelling opener: a hook grabs the audience’s attention at the outset.
    • The problem: the issue, challenge or opportunity is clearly outlined.
    • The solution: the proposed solution and how it will work is sufficiently explained.
    • Unique value proposition: the pitch explains why this product is different from alternatives and more advantageous.
    • Target market: you should aim the solution at a specific target audience.
    • Financials: the pitch includes accurate numbers, costs, margins, expenses and realistic expectations for a return on investment.
    • CTA: there’s a strong call to action to close the pitch.
    • Brevity: the pitch covers the essential points but is brief enough to ensure you capture and keep the audience’s attention throughout.

    Business pitch template

    Our useful business pitch template outlines the main slides you could aim to include in your pitch to ensure you’ve covered the bases.

    1. Opener: include a heading, your business name and your name. Accompany this slide with a compelling opening statement or story.
    2. The problem: describe your target audience’s core problem or challenge.
    3. The solution: present the proposed solution that your product, service or idea provides. Clearly state how the solution works.
    4. The market opportunity: cover your target audience, the market size and the core opportunity.
    5. Your unique value proposition: describe how your product or service is unique (your unique value proposition) and advantageous compared to competitors.
    6. The financials: outline the financial projections, including costs, margins and potential return for investors.
    7. The ask: clearly state the support you need and what you are asking for.
    8. Call to action: include your CTA and invite the audience to ask questions.

    Business pitch examples

    Mock business pitch examples (elevator pitches, in this case) can get the creative juices flowing and provide inspiration for your next pitch.

    A healthcare startup looking for investors

    Only 45% of people in rural communities can access the healthcare they deserve.

    Our healthcare startup is on a mission to improve access to healthcare for remote communities across the country. Our telemedicine platform connects patients living in rural areas to healthcare providers, offering accessible, affordable and convenient care.

    Join us to help provide critical care to those who need it.

    A renewable energy startup looking for a co-founder

    Renewable energy is critical for reducing energy emissions, protecting the planet and reducing costs for customers.

    We’ve created a new type of solar panel that’s 30% more efficient than a typical panel. We’re making power supplies more reliable, accessible and cost-effective for all. Now, we’re looking for a partner to join us on our mission.

    An established SaaS platform looking to launch in new markets

    Business owners find it challenging to manage projects, track tasks and monitor their employees’ productivity.

    Our SaaS platform offers comprehensive project-tracking tools to help teams better manage projects, track timelines and collaborate in real time, all to boost productivity and streamline workflows.

    We’re looking to grow into new and exciting markets to help more business owners work smarter. Be a part of our journey.

    Tell a more compelling story

    Ultimately, giving an effective business pitch comes down to telling a compelling story. Storytelling that inspires others to act is the cornerstone of good pitching.

    Whether you’re looking to get a product to market, gain investment for your innovative idea or help your team develop a new feature for customers, storytelling will help you convince others that your ideas are the ideal solution.

    Becoming a better storyteller is a great way to get results and motivate others. Part of this is knowing how to use different presentation styles and understanding the best ways to deal with questions after your pitch.

    FAQs

    What’s the difference between a business pitch and a presentation?

    Both business pitches and presentations are talks that provide information about a business, product or idea.

    A business pitch persuades the audience to take a specific action, which might be to invest, partner or support in some way. Pitches are typically short and focused on highlighting a new idea’s core problems, solutions and benefits.

    A presentation, on the other hand, is a talk designed to provide more information about a topic. This could be for training purposes, to present a new product, to summarize key takeaways from research or to introduce a team to a new way of working. Presentations typically include more information, data and context than a business pitch.

    What’s the difference between a pitch deck and a business plan?

    A pitch deck is related to a business pitch. It’s the deck of slides that accompanies a pitch to visually represent your ideas.

    The pitch deck is usually a concise set of slides you might use to pitch for investment, approval or other types of support.

    A pitch deck only includes the salient details and high-level information that helps generate interest and support from others.

    In contrast, a business plan is a detailed outline of your business’s goals, challenges, strategies, market analysis and financial projections. It’s a comprehensive document businesses use as a roadmap to guide decision-making and assess progress.

    A business plan is also useful for gaining funding and investment. It proves to banks or investors that your business has a solid foundation and is more likely to succeed.

    Should a business pitch end with a call to action?

    Your business pitch must end with a CTA to motivate and inspire action. A CTA helps inform others what steps they can take to support your business, idea or project.

    To be effective, your CTA should be simple to follow and easy to understand. Here are some examples:

    • Let’s chat today about how we can work together.
    • Request our business plan for more information.
    • Schedule a demo today.
    • Join our feedback session now.
    • Sign up for a free trial.

    Can you use visuals, such as slides or videos, to support a business pitch?

    Graphs, charts, images and video content can all make your business pitch compelling and engaging.

    Text-heavy slides can be challenging to read, boring for your audience and distracting from the speaker. Using visual content can brighten your pitch and help people connect with the information you’re sharing.

    It’s helpful to keep in mind that too many visuals can be distracting and overwhelming. It’s usually best to go with a “less is more” approach for maximum impact.


    Level up your career with Pip Club

    Join 100,000+ leaders who get unique tips every week on storytelling, leadership and productivity - plus exclusive how-to guides, first-dibs on upcoming Pip Decks and our very best discounts.

    No spam, no email sharing - ever. Privacy Policy

    One of the few newsletters I look forward to.
    — Dave Cunningham, Head of DesignOps @ NHS

    Major leadership theories: from foundations to modern approaches
    Explore major leadership theories, from foundational concepts to modern approaches that inspire change.
    Read More
    The power of personality: The secrets of charismatic leadership
    Unlock the secrets of charismatic leadership and harness the power of personality to inspire.
    Read More
    Mastering Situational Leadership®: Your guide to adaptive management
    Adapt your leadership style for greater team success.
    Read More