I’m a retailer, here’s how to pitch to me


Dean Salakas, The Party People

I get pitched about 4-5 times a day from retail solution providers. Half of these pitches come through LinkedIn, a quarter come through email and the rest are phone calls. Some retailers hate being pitched while others have a thirst for looking for that next new thing to give them an edge, personally, I love new toys.

I get really frustrated when the vendors pitch starts with “Tell me more about The Party People” or “Tell me your biggest pain point in the area of….”. I don’t have time to tell every vendor all this information in the hope that I give them the information they need to figure out an angle to pitch to me. I am sure some think they are “building rapport” but annoying me isn’t the best approach to that either.

By far the most annoying way to pitch me is to say “Do you have half an hour for coffee” and bizarrely it’s the most common start to a pitch. I have heaps of free time for coffee with vendors, say’s no one ever! Like everyone else, I have a to do list longer than I could ever get through and so doing coffee on the off chance I might buy what your selling will never make it even half way up my list.

“it’s a process and every step of the process is an attempt to get the other person to demand more of your time”

One thing I learnt about pitching on Shark Tank is that it’s a process and every step of the process is an attempt to get the other person to demand more of your time. It’s certainly not the other way round where you pitch, wanting to demand more of the listeners time which is how most people approach it. If there is one takeaway from this article, that is the key. Pitch in way that gets the retailer to ask questions and want more of your time as they search to understand if you will give them the solution they need (or didn’t know they need).

You have one or maybe two sentences to hook me to want to learn more, that’s it! “We do X, and we are different because of Y” is the most effective way to pitch to me. X being the generic term for what you do e.g. “payments provider”, “web development agency” etc. Y being your point of difference or for disruptive new technology this is the solution you solve. The first part is important so I get some context of what area you are in and the second is the hook you give me to want to learn more.

Lots of people go into listing all their features at the beginning and if you do, I’ll probably tune out. This is something the technology developer (often the founder) goes into and its not the right approach. I am sure you passionate about all the little features you have added but don’t give them to me up front. I don’t want all the details because I don’t have time and I haven’t worked out if you are worth my time yet. So don’t start talking about all the “features” yet, I want to be hooked in the first 10 seconds. To do that, you need to focus on key points of difference (preferably 1 and no more than 3). Your goal here is to get me to ask questions, NOT give answers.

Hopefully with your first line, you have piqued my interest and so then I will start asking questions. Its in those questions and conversation that you can find a segue into your more detailed “features”. After that, If I seem interested it’s then that you can send me some more info because my next move will be to do some research on you. Now you can help me out by sending me more information on why this is the best thing since sliced bread, how easy it is to get on board and who else is using it.

If you get through all of that and I still like what I am looking at, I want a meeting but if I don’t ask, now is your chance to suggest we catch up. If you get to the point of a meeting, consider something different to coffee. Maybe suggest a beer or even an ice cream, because who doesn’t like ice-cream. My point being, do something a little different and novel, something you know they will like.

Until they invent tinder for service providers, please no more coffee requests, hit me with it straight up and hopefully I reward you with a question back.

The Party People
Dean Salakas Founder, The Party People