In baseball terminology, a perfect pitch often results in a strikeout. But when it comes to the perfect pitch as made by an entrepreneur looking to launch a product or company – well, that perfect pitch often results in a home run.

During my more than two decades of work as an investor and entrepreneur – a period when I’ve launched more than 500 products with cumulative sales of more than $4 billion worldwide – I’ve heard and delivered a lot of pitches. Sadly, the majority of these pitches were far from perfect.

My companies get 1,000 submissions a month. My staff and I whittle the number down to about 100 maybes. Ultimately, only two or three of those products get launched every month.

It’s true that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Don’t approach this moment ill-prepared.

Pitching an idea to a group of strangers can be intimidating. But at that moment, all you have to do is talk about a product or service you believe in – and do it in a passionate, yet thoroughly researched manner.

Do it just like you’re talking to your banker—with your excitement and your belief in yourself. My advice to any salesperson is to prepare yourself by doing your pitch in front of a camera or a mirror. Do your presentation for your spouse or your kids. Practice. Don’t go in cold.

Not had much success with previous pitches? Change it up – and fast! If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. You can’t just sit and do it the way you’ve always done it. Get motivated to see what you can add to what you do currently to expand your pitch.

Stress that what you have is an original and the consumer would have no reason to buy a similar item from a Johnny–come–lately. The Snuggie is a good example. If somebody walked in my office and said “I have this blanket with arms, and this is going to do $400 million in sales,” I would have asked them what they were smoking or drinking, then told them to please get out of my office.

But they worked their pitch to perfection, and they got it across every spectrum they could right away—collegiate, child, pet. They didn’t let knockoffs come in. When they went to the retailers, they said, “We’re going to give you the original, but if you sell other brands, we can take our brand out of your store.” They’ve sold well north of 20 million units. It’s all about the quality of the relationship, the quality of the product and the continuity of the brand.

Joe PolishHaving trouble getting your pitch off the ground? Go to people who have been there before, and seek advice on what they’ve done. Develop great relationships with your bankers and accountants; get mentors who can advise you. I utilize people outside my company. I’m not afraid to pick up the phone to have someone help me work through issues. A lot of times you have to get out there and network with the people who can help you in times of challenge.

This doesn’t mean you’ll hit a home run every time. Sometimes you have to reboot or hit the reset button and start over. But eventually, believing in yourself and your pitch will make it happen.

Setting Up Your Pitch

Here are a few things the savvy investor is looking for in a product. Tailor your pitch accordingly.

  • Mass market appeal
  • Unique problem solvers
  • Money behind the company

A lot of smart people have developed a lot of great advice for pitching a product. But the final version has to be sincere, complete, tight and passionate. And even though you want to project excitement, let your spiel be reasonable and responsible. Colorful charts and graphs that show an insane growth path – Sales will go from $50,000 to $50,000,000 in just three years! – rarely work.

Wordy, never-ending presentations and explanations will turn off an investor. “Tight and bright” makes for a good pitch. Be ready to clearly explain what it is that you are aiming to do – and to do that in one single sentence.

It doesn’t hurt to offer testimonials and glowing third-party reviews.

Be sure to practice answering questions calmly and succinctly. Would-be investors are going to ask a lot of questions. You can’t brush them aside with answers like, “I’ll look into that… and get back to you.” You need to be ready for anything – and you need to respond with a sincere, knowledgeable demeanor. After all, if you don’t know the answers to the questions about YOUR product, who does?

Pitching your product can be an exhilarating moment or a painful process. Practice does make perfect. But nothing can take the place of unshakable belief in what you are pitching.

I think motivational guru Paul. J. Meyer summed it up nicely when he said: “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass.”