Ever watch the Shark Tank? It's a reality-based TV show which features a panel of entrepreneurs and business executives called "Sharks" who consider offers from other entrepreneurs seeking investments for their business or product. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's hokey, but in the end. 7 million viewers don't realize major business learnings are occurring right in front of them.
The premise is simple — the entrepreneur has approximately 3-5 minutes to present their business opportunity/invention and the 'investors' then have the opportunity to bid on it (and hopefully make it a raging success!).
Let's look at what you should be taking away from each episode:
You can immediately tell who has their pitch down and who doesn't. Who are the fakers and who are the 'real' businesspeople.
It's amazing how many people I meet who don't have their act together when it comes to their business or career. It seems like they are drifting through life, allowing the river to pull them along — no paddling, no rudder — and they might be heading for the rocks . . . or the waterfall.
Talk On Your Feet
In Shark Tank, you only have 3-5 minutes to present your product. You have to give the best and most critical information quickly and in a way where your audience immediately understands what you do and what the opportunity is. Many presenters don't have solid pitches and the ability to answer easy follow-up questions.
Handle Obstacles With Aplomb
It's funny when you see the presenter finish their pitch and are aghast when the investors ask penetrating and direct questions. Many presenters stumble, some are defensive, and only a few have the gravitas to handle the pressure and perform.
Face it — you will hit obstacles EVERY DAY of your life and it's how you deal with those obstacles which define each of us for greatness. That's why they call it 'work'. If you are giving a status update to your board or pitching your services to a new prospect — make the assumption that they will ask hard questions. If they do, it means they are really interested!
Be Able To Sell Yourself Anytime
It's so funny when I bump into someone or I meet them at a networking event and they are definitely not prepared to speak with me about what they do. They obfuscate, they skitter, or they quickly skip over their most important deliverable. Guess what? I've lost interest.
How about saying something like — "When people are stuck, I get them moving forward - fast." or "It's hard to fully trust someone today - they all have agendas - I'm the one executives call who they can trust." (this is what I say)
Know Your Financials
This is my main pet peeve — entrepreneurs go on the show with some outrageous dollar amount in mind and no way to back it up. The minute the sharks begin to ask questions, the entrepreneurs stumble and pause. Not good.
If you are pitching a client, know EXACTLY what is behind your number and what it is composed of — so if they ask, you have an answer. Also, be prepared for a counter-offer and the full ability to explain your deliverables.
Know When To Close
I've seen too many people not know when to close — they fumble along and wait for their client to 'make their move'. You see it constantly on Shark Tank — they do their presentation and then the sharks either bow out or make an offer.
When you hear the 'buy' signal — go in for the 'kill' and close. Ask for their business, negotiate the offer up or down, and shake their hand!
Smile & Walk Away
There are many Shark Tank contestants who are rebuffed by the entire team of sharks. It's usually because they have a bad business idea or they didn't present or negotiate well with the sharks.
IMPORTANT: Even though you have a stellar idea, you can kill it with a bad presentation or negotiation style.
If things don't go well during a pitch or job interview — close, smile, and walk away. Don't let it get to you — it was never going to happen. The more upbeat you are, the more the client will think that they just let the biggest fish of their career, get away.
P.S. As you can probably tell, I love the Shark Tank and hope everyone who reads my blog runs off to watch it!