Freelancers' Questions: How do I pitch?

Freelancer's Question: I've become a bit of a hermit recently through working hard at home to get my business off the ground. Now most of the 'nuts and bolts' are in place, I need to get out there and pitch my offering. I have two potential clients through my online network of contacts and another two will be at a nearby road-show. Can I prepare one pitch for both parties? And more importantly, what are the basic elements of a good pitch? And should I mention price in my pitch, or try to remember some pitching equation or technique to remember when the nerves get the better of me!?

Expert's Answer: It’s hard to make specific recommendations without knowing what kind of business you’re in. However whether you are pitching a business, a product, yourself or even a TV show (my own area of expertise), the principles are the same.

  The five principles of a successful pitch

1. Understand the market – know how your offer compares to your competitors’ products or services and what makes yours unique
2. Play to your strengths – buyers like to minimise their risk so make sure you highlight a demonstrable track record or at least have a solid portfolio of work for inspection
3. Know your product or service inside out - and pitch it with confidence
4. Demonstrate your client knowledge - prepare one master pitch that you
can tailor to each prospective new client (as you would a CV)
5. Aim to open a dialogue – a discussion about price will come once the
client is interested, but you may need more than one conversation to get to
that stage.

Avoid a formula

In general, I don’t like formulaic pitches as they can sound insincere. If
you get stuck, approach it like a story. For example: Who (you are), What
(you do), Why (it will help the client), How (you do it better than anyone
else) and When (you can deliver). Then hold your tongue; let them digest the
information and allow them to ask you questions.

How you won/lost

You’ll have an excellent chance of landing the gig if you pitch the right
content, product or service (that solves a problem or fills a need) to the
right person (with the power to buy or hire) at the right time (when they
have an immediate need and the money to spend). If you are unsuccessful
take a look at these three elements and work out where you went wrong.

Cool-headed and human

And remember, people like to do business with people they like: be
personable, friendly and professional even - and especially - when you
don’t secure a deal. There might be an opportunity in a few months and, if
you made a good impression at the first meeting, you could be the first
person they call.


Nicola Lees is credited with more than 80 successful commissions. She is the founder of TV Mole, and author of Greenlit: Developing Factual/Reality TV Ideas From Concept to Pitch



Jul 1, 2010
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