That’s Intriguing #119: Pitching Advice Straight From The “Shark Tank”


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“When we are selling our ideas, the audience must first buy us.” – Peter Coughter, VCU BrandCenter

Where can you go to get examples of how to – and how not to –  pitch?

That’s right, TV’s popular Shark Tank.

Kudos to Bill Murphy Jr.,  former Washington Post reporter, for taking it upon himself to watch 400 Shark Tank pitches and extracting lessons-learned and best-practices.

Here are a couple insightful takeaways from his article (with my comments in parenthesis.)

#3 Don’t get too far ahead of the customer.

Customers like things that are new and different- but they don’t necessarily like going too far out of their comfort zone.

(It’s important to clarify how your new idea, product or service solves current problems and addresses current issues.  If what you’re pitching or proposing sounds too pie-in-the-sky speculative, people may conclude it’s unnecessary or too risky.

Uber caught on quickly because it gave customers everything they did want, nothing they didn’t want, and didn’t pull people out of their comfort zone.

#6 Focus on the customer not on yourself.

“I like talking about you, you, you, you, usually.. but occasionally I like talking about me.” -Toby Keith

(We’ve all heard this advice and know how important it is.)

Yet in my experience as the Pitch Coach for the British Airways Face2Face competition and for Springboard Enterprises (which has helped female entrepreneurs receive more than $6.5 billion in funding), this is actually the exception and not the rule.

For example, most people start their pitch by explaining what their new business, product or service DOES.

Wrong.   A length explanation if often confusing – and confused investors don’t say yes.

Instead, start your pitch by asking “You questions” that actively engage your listeners.  For example,

  • “Did you know an INC article recently cited research that says most executives get 200-300 emails a day?
  • Did you know that same article discovered that some of the executives they interviewed said they had up to 70,000 unread emails that have stacked up?


See how asking “You questions” has the power to pull listeners or readers out of their preoccupation and get their intrigued attention?  Focusing the beginning of your pitch on your audience, customer or decision-maker causes them to focus on and consider what you’re saying.

And to access more of Bill Murphy Jr.’s thought-provoking observations about what makes for a winning pitch,  check out his article by clicking on this link … 10 Things I Learned by Watching by Studying Every Shark Tank Pitch Ever Made


[Image by Flickr User Allan Lee]

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