Pitching That Is Bitching

Precious Williams, founder and CEO, Perfect Pitches by Precious

Precious Williams, founder and CEO, Perfect Pitches by Precious

Erin Michelle Silber

Whether you are looking for money, customers, employees, suppliers, or partners, entrepreneurs are always pitching. The point of a pitch is to get prospects interested in you and your company, so they ask for a follow-up. You don't need to reel them in; you just need to get them on the hook.

I met Precious Williams when I moderated a panel on perfecting your pitch. I was dazzled by her performance and the meaty insights she provided. Williams has won 13 pitch competitions. I wished I had her moves. I don't have to wish anymore. She has just published a playbook — Bad Bitches and Power Pitches: For Women Entrepreneurs and Speakers Only

Williams is a naturally gifted speaker. At 16 years old, without training, she "killed" it when she spoke at a St. Louis Public Schools VIP event, which included the mayor. She attended Spelman College on a full-ride scholarship. Law school at Georgetown and Rutgers was followed by working in a law firm. However, working for others didn't suit her style, so she started her own business. 

When you have no money, you have to rely on your wits to fund your business. For her first company — Curvy Girlz, lingerie for woman with curves — Williams raised $150,000 by winning 13 of the 14 pitch competitions she entered. Like any sports star, she realized that talent alone would get her only so far. Williams became a student of pitching. She studied her competitors' pitches. Importantly, when her confidence waned, she relied on friends and mentors to help lift her back up. 

Because she killed it, William won the 2013 Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition, resulting in many interviews. During one, she was labeled a "bad bitch." At first, she was startled by the term. Then she realized it meant she was unstoppable and a force to be reckoned with. Williams embraced the term as an accolade. It became the frame for her book, Bad Bitches and Power Pitches. The book is both motivational and practical. 

Triumphing Over Adversity

Now, you might think that Williams lived a charmed life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Her formative years were spent with an abusive mother and her father, who was an addict. At 15, she was rescued by her grandmother, who gave Williams a sense of pride, joy, and merriment. Her grandmother made her feel important, enabling Williams to build self-esteem. However, feelings of worthlessness would periodically rear up, resulting in depression, addiction, and attempted suicide. After great success, for a variety of reasons that you can read about in the book, Curvy Girlz went south. 

Williams' story about how she navigated the ups and downs of life are inspiring:

  • from being abused to nurtured
  • from poor to success to homeless back to success
  • from feeling worthless to feeling worthy
  • from addiction and depression to a badass survivor

 Actionable Advice To Help You Perfect Your Pitch

Those experiences gave her wisdom, which she shares in her book. For pitches, she offers this advice: 

At a minimum, you need to tell people your name, company name, clients, and customer pain points, and what you do differently. However, if you want to do a power pitch, you need to:

  • Tailor your pitch to your audience. What do they care about and how does your solution meet their needs, fears, and frustrations? Frame your pitch to what matters most to the listeners.
  • Pull your audience in with an engaging story.
  •  Know your end goal and make an ask at the end. That could be as simple as getting a person's business card or scheduling coffee after a chance meeting in the elevator. You may also be going for the gold by asking for an order from a potential customer or money from a funder.
  • Exude confidence. Practice, practice, practice, so you perform perfectly. Practice out loud and not in your head. Without a take-charge attitude, you are not going to get what you are asking for.
  • Stand out by letting your freak flag fly. Let your perceived flaws out. That could be your weight, the way you grew up, career bumps, etc. Wear who you are as a badge of courage. 

I will add: Make sure to talk about your skills and accomplishments. This is what women are most likely to leave out. All our lives we have been told that it's not ladylike to brag. But, done right, it can be one of the most effective ways for you to achieve your end goal.

At the end of many chapters of the book, Williams has a "coaching corner". It is a series of questions designed to help you think through your pitch. It is a way to have Precious by your side, advising you on how to do your pitch

I do not want to give all Williams' tips away. Just read Bad Bitches and Power Pitches.

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Whether you are looking for money, customers, employees, suppliers, or partners, entrepreneurs are always pitching. The point of a pitch is to get prospects interested in you and your company, so they ask for a follow-up. You don't need to reel them in; you just need to get them on the hook.

I met Precious Williams when I moderated a panel on perfecting your pitch. I was dazzled by her performance and the meaty insights she provided. Williams has won 13 pitch competitions. I wished I had her moves. I don't have to wish anymore. She has just published a playbook — Bad Bitches and Power Pitches: For Women Entrepreneurs and Speakers Only

Williams is a naturally gifted speaker. At 16 years old, without training, she "killed" it when she spoke at a St. Louis Public Schools VIP event, which included the mayor. She attended Spelman College on a full-ride scholarship. Law school at Georgetown and Rutgers was followed by working in a law firm. However, working for others didn't suit her style, so she started her own business. 

When you have no money, you have to rely on your wits to fund your business. For her first company — Curvy Girlz, lingerie for woman with curves — Williams raised $150,000 by winning 13 of the 14 pitch competitions she entered. Like any sports star, she realized that talent alone would get her only so far. Williams became a student of pitching. She studied her competitors' pitches. Importantly, when her confidence waned, she relied on friends and mentors to help lift her back up. 

Because she killed it, William won the 2013 Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition, resulting in many interviews. During one, she was labeled a "bad bitch." At first, she was startled by the term. Then she realized it meant she was unstoppable and a force to be reckoned with. Williams embraced the term as an accolade. It became the frame for her book, Bad Bitches and Power Pitches. The book is both motivational and practical. 

Triumphing Over Adversity

Now, you might think that Williams lived a charmed life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Her formative years were spent with an abusive mother and her father, who was an addict. At 15, she was rescued by her grandmother, who gave Williams a sense of pride, joy, and merriment. Her grandmother made her feel important, enabling Williams to build self-esteem. However, feelings of worthlessness would periodically rear up, resulting in depression, addiction, and attempted suicide. After great success, for a variety of reasons that you can read about in the book, Curvy Girlz went south. 

Williams' story about how she navigated the ups and downs of life are inspiring:

  • from being abused to nurtured
  • from poor to success to homeless back to success
  • from feeling worthless to feeling worthy
  • from addiction and depression to a badass survivor

 Actionable Advice To Help You Perfect Your Pitch

Those experiences gave her wisdom, which she shares in her book. For pitches, she offers this advice: 

At a minimum, you need to tell people your name, company name, clients, and customer pain points, and what you do differently. However, if you want to do a power pitch, you need to:

  • Tailor your pitch to your audience. What do they care about and how does your solution meet their needs, fears, and frustrations? Frame your pitch to what matters most to the listeners.
  • Pull your audience in with an engaging story.
  •  Know your end goal and make an ask at the end. That could be as simple as getting a person's business card or scheduling coffee after a chance meeting in the elevator. You may also be going for the gold by asking for an order from a potential customer or money from a funder.
  • Exude confidence. Practice, practice, practice, so you perform perfectly. Practice out loud and not in your head. Without a take-charge attitude, you are not going to get what you are asking for.
  • Stand out by letting your freak flag fly. Let your perceived flaws out. That could be your weight, the way you grew up, career bumps, etc. Wear who you are as a badge of courage. 

I will add: Make sure to talk about your skills and accomplishments. This is what women are most likely to leave out. All our lives we have been told that it's not ladylike to brag. But, done right, it can be one of the most effective ways for you to achieve your end goal.

At the end of many chapters of the book, Williams has a "coaching corner". It is a series of questions designed to help you think through your pitch. It is a way to have Precious by your side, advising you on how to do your pitch

I do not want to give all Williams' tips away. Just read Bad Bitches and Power Pitches.

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I am president of Ventureneer, a digital media and market research company that helps corporations reach small businesses through thought leadership. My book, Forget the...