Heather Day appeared on Shark Tank in 2017 with her product Hay Day Butter. She approached me after attending my Perfecting Your Pitch seminar as part of the eChallenge program hosted by the University of Adelaide.
Here are 5 tips I coached Heather on to win her pitch
Grab them at the start
Going on Shark Tank is like stepping on stage at a concert. You want to make a great impression and win over the audience as soon as you can. My advice to Heather was to come out smiling and looking confident. The goal was to get Janine to light up, and you can see on the video she achieved this.
On Shark Tank, their opening statement is scripted and set to a formula. In a real-life pitch, I recommend you start with the customer’s problem. Amplify this and explain how your business idea solves their dilemma.
Tailor to your audience
In 2017 the sharks were Janine Allis founder of Boost Juice, Andrew Banks co-founder of Morgan and Banks, Naomi Simson founder of Red Balloon Glen Richards, veterinarian, and founder of GreenCross and tech entrepreneur Steve Baxter.
We researched and profiled each of the sharks, hypothesising which sharks would be interested and developing aspects of the pitch that would appeal to them.
I expected that Janine, with her interest in food, would invest. In the end, it was Naomi Simson and surprisingly, Steve Baxter who made offers.
Actions will always beat words. Don’t tell them, show them. I suggested that Heather approach the producers and do a cooking demonstration with tasting. As MasterChef was also on the Channel 10 Network, I was confident that the answer would be yes.
You can see on the video what a tremendous impact tasting the product had. Whatever it is that you’re pitching get people involved as much as you can. I call this selling in all senses. Encourage them to touch, taste, smell, hold, as well see your product.
Create stories and sound bites
When it comes to sales, facts tell stories sell. One of the stories Heather amplified was something we all face when we get home from a busy day at work. We open the fridge and think what can I cook for dinner? Heather then explained how Hey Day better solves this problem.
“You have some broccoli and salmon in the fridge, add some miso gourmet butter for a beautiful umami boost.”
There were several memorable soundbites woven into her pitch
- ‘Artisan gourmet butter’
- ‘Give it the Masterchef touch without the time and effort’
- ‘The cinnamon butter creates instant fruit toast’
Manage the curly questions
Expect to be challenged and plan for curly questions. If you get questions, you know you’ve done a good job. Questions are buying signals – people ask them because they’re engaged in want to know more. Heather and I brainstormed the type of questions each shark would ask, and I coached Heather on how to brace herself for the ‘Baxter Attacks’ as Steve was notorious for being confrontational.
When you feel you are in the spotlight it is also important to demonstrate your humility and curiosity. I remember watching an American Shark Tank episode where one of the sharks said: “You have an amazing business model, great products and there is clearly a need for them on the market. But you are arrogant, refuse to take advice, and I can’t work with you so it is a no from me .”
Every pitch is unique
Shark Tank is reality TV. Real-life pitching has some similarities but is a very different beast. Every pitch will have a different objective and audience and will need to be individually tailored.
I have helped people pitch successfully for $50k for a startup, through to winning grants in the tens of millions. Give me a bell if you need help, I’d love to help you shine!