Mastering the One-on-One Business Pitch: Tips for Effective Pitching

one-on-one business pitch

one-on-one business pitch

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been coaching founders who are preparing to meet potential US partners, distributors, and clients. 

(Quick reminder! On Monday, I’m teaching a free masterclass on social pitching. Click here for details and to save your spot!

Sorry for that interruption, but I didn’t want you to miss your sign-up chance! 

Now, back to the coaching sessions I’ve been doing over the past two weeks…. 

They’re  fun and exciting, and to get the most from the sessions, I ask each person to send me some information on how they plan to structure their pitch:

Here are some of the opening sentences they sent me: 

  • “Why shouldn’t local book clubs have access to resources as cutting-edge as major publishing houses?”
  • “The worldwide impact of inadequate nutrition is alarming, with leading health organizations linking it to 7 million fatalities annually.”
  • “Consider this: Which place is harder to explore, a dense rainforest or the depths of outer space?”

Now, you might think, “Those are good! They make me want to know more!” 

You’re right, they are pretty good… if you’re doing an on-stage “performance pitch.” 

Here’s the thing: These clients aren’t going to be standing on a stage before an audience..

They’re going to be sitting in a 1:1 meetings with a potential partner, client or distributor.

Totally different context! 

And if you’re going into a 1:1 meeting, this sort of in-your-face opener is exactly what NOT to do (even though it’s what you learn in most “pitch training”)

Let’s explore why this approach doesn’t work and how to craft a more effective pitch for these intimate settings.

Not all pitches are created equal

In a lot of pitch workshops, training, and advice you find online, there’s one piece of advice that comes up often: “Hook the audience with a strong opener!”

Yes, that’s great advice if you’re doing a dramatic and attention-grabbing pitch show. Think about the kinds of pitch you might see on “Shark Tank” or in pitch competitions.  Great for putting on a show. 

But it will fall flat in a one-on-one context.

Sure, these types of pitches are full of energy, and they’re a little entertaining.
But they are inappropriate for 1:1 meetings because they create a disconnect between you and the person you’re talking to. 

Why? Instead of creating a dialogue, it’ll show that you are just reciting a monologue that you have practiced 100 times.
That will make you seem insincere. And you’ll lose your potential client’s trust.

Use the wrong pitch = Lose the opportunity

Using the wrong type of pitch can kill the business opportunity you worked so hard to get. 

An overly dramatic pitch in a 1:1 conversation can feel awkward and fake, even for Americans who are accustomed to bold presentations. 

In 1:1 meetings, the traditional advice you see on “how to do a great pitch” doesn’t apply,  because it doesn’t create interaction. 

It  doesn’t give your client the sense that you want to listen to them and help them solve their problem.

It gives them the impression that you came there to “give your spiel”, as we say in English. In other words, to just deliver a presentation that you have prepared and practiced, without taking into consideration the person listening. 

Remember, the goal in a 1:1 meeting–even a pitch meeting–is to create a conversation, not deliver a monologue.

The art of the 1:1 business pitch

In a 1:1 setting, adapting your “pitch” to be more conversational and interactive is key.

In fact, you won’t even talk about YOU until halfway through the conversation. To begin you’re going to ask questions and LISTEN.

Engage your potential partner in dialogue and show genuine interest in their perspective. 

This is how you build rapport and trust. By asking questions, listening, and only then talking about what you do and how you can help. 

Even when it comes time to deliver your pitch, it will be more toned down and conversational than the “show pitches” you saw above. 

Practical tips for your 1:1 conversational pitch

  • OPEN A DIALOGUE: Use opening lines that encourage dialogue. 
    • I say something like this:  “Thanks for taking the time to meet with me. I’d love to hear more about your current projects and see if there might be an opportunity to collaborate”
  • LEARN ABOUT THEM: In this “discovery phase”, ask questions about:
    • Their project, context, background, stakes of not solving their problem
    • Their needs & difficulties, and why they can’t solve the problem alone
    • The benefits they get if they achieve their goal, why it’s important
    • If appropriate: when they want to start, and why this time is important
    • Resources they have for the project: budget, time, humans 
    • How they found you, and why they wanted to or agreed to meet with you
    • I use this exact sentence: “Thank you for all your answers. To recap…[summarize what they told you]. Based on what you’ve just told me, I’m 100% convinced that I can help you. Would you like me to explain how?”
  • PITCH: Finally, you get to talk about you, your company, your product/service. 
    • Who you are, what type of client you help, and what problem you solve for them. 
    • Your markers of credibility: years of experience, awards you’ve won, certifications, etc)
    • Your company: What makes it unique, what’s the benefit of working with your company and not another one
    • The story behind your company: Why or how did you create it, what’s your mission
    • How you accomplish this mission: What are the stages your client will go through with you, how do you help them achieve their goal
    • The format: The specific details of working with you (time, logistics, etc., but NOT price… yet)
    • I use this exact sentence: “Do you have any questions, or is everything clear?”, then “Is this what you’re looking for?”
  • PRICE: If they confirm your offer is what they want, now it’s time to talk price
    • I use something like this: “If it’s all good, the last thing for us to confirm iw the financial terms”
    • Announce the price if you sell a fixed-price product, discuss monthly payments if necessary, or say you will send a quote if you need to calculate the package based on what you learned, get all details you need to send a quote (name, address, email address, etc.)
  • END POSITIVELY: Even if you are going to solve their problem and they are excited about this, talking about the cost activates the pain area of the brain, because they must part with something: their money. Don’t stop here, or you risk losing the pitch to the dreaded “Send me an email, and I’ll think about it.”
    • Conclude on a positive note: how excited you are to help them solve their problem. 
    • Remind them of the benefits they are going to get from solving this problem
    • Book in a time to meet again, either for onboarding or to go over the quote together. 


Adapting your pitch for the context, focusing on listening, and building a connection are crucial for effective 1:1 pitch meetings. 

Different contexts call for different types of pitches, and not all pitches are created equal. 

Knowing this, I invite you to review your current pitch strategy. 

And if you need my expert eye to check your pitch content, structure, and strategy, let me know and we’ll book in a consultation session (200€ + VAT).

See you next Thursday,

You can also join me on Monday for a free workshop on crafting your social pitch: Your answer to “What do you do?”

You want to have an answer that makes your listener really want to know more, but at the same time feels natural and appropriate for the conversation. 

Click here to save your spot in Monday’s masterclass. 

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