No matter how you look at it, every entrepreneur needs a pitch deck at some point. A pitch deck, also known as a sales/trade presentation, is actually a kind of superhero cape. Just as Superman never flies off a building without a cape, you as an entrepreneur never sit down with a potential investor or retailer without a pitch deck. As you've come to expect from us, we like to get experts talking to crack this question. For that reason, we sit down with experience expert Danielle Mol of GreenUp Consulting who wants to tell us the ins and outs of pitch decks.
Danielle Mol has more than 12 years of experience in the food industry and has often been responsible for millions of contracts in her life. She became successful young in her work, but after a great journey, she came closer than ever to her mission: to make plant-based eating the standard. Thus, her consulting company was GreenUp born. Through her company, she helps plant-based companies with category analysis, shelf advice, trend and consumer presentation, as well as preparing interviews with major retailers. She also helps companies that would like to make the transition to a more plant-based assortment.
What is a pitch deck?
A pitch deck or sales/trade presentation is designed for bringing in investors or listings to major retailers. The basis is an overview of your business plan, your products, services and expected growth.
That seems easy, but unfortunately. Making a presentation once and never modifying it again, unfortunately, is not going to be it. Sure, having a good foundation saves a lot of time, but it's very important that the presentation be tailored to who you will be having the conversation with.
Every retailer and investor is different; they have different goals and visions. Therefore, it is extremely important that you do your homework. Do research and, if possible, visit the physical stores. This is a good way to get inside the head of the potential investor or retailer.
*The rest of this article will focus on retailers, but look for some more information on investors at the bottom right.
Putting things in order: formulating goals
Apart from the pitch deck, it is crucial to have clear and definite goals for yourself and your business. This is because it helps you in many ways. With clear goals in mind, creating a pitch deck is much easier. This is because the next question you are going to ask yourself is, "what does the person across from me want and how can I help achieve this goal?"
Delve into the mind of the buyer
Every retailer is different and in addition, they see many pitches come by every day. Therefore, it is essential that you stand out. Do you want to make a deal? Then your job is to be their solution! Who knows, you might be the solution they didn't know they needed. To get to know and understand your interviewer, it's a good idea to ask yourself the following questions:
Who am I having a conversation with?
What is important to that person?
Hint: Make everything as easy as possible for them! Create simple and doable solutions. The fewer logistics questions they have to ask, the better.
What is the added value of my product(s) for the retailer AND the customers?
What are my USPs (Unique Selling Points)?
Am I contributing to the achievement of targets?
Are there barriers related to my product and how can I remove them?
Visit stores or do research on similar products on the shelf.
Ask the staff how your competitors' sales are going and what they think of your product.
An example please?
Understanding who your interlocutor is is very important to making it a successful conversation. Every situation is different and unique and therefore requires a customized presentation for the person across from you.
Having a checklist can help you remember what parts should be in your pitch deck. Danielle has a comprehensive checklist for her clients, more information about it and her contact information can be found here.
Pssst: You can also take a peek at the sample investor pitch deck checklist at the bottom of the blog.
There is a rule of thumb this says: keep your information minimal, clear and uniform. That way you come across as a professional and won't miss out on a deal because the retailer didn't understand you. "In my opinion, there is no standard length of pitch decks. The length of your deck also depends on whether you discuss it physically or online, whether you have a history with the retailer. These components all play a role in determining the length." Don't panic, there is a general consensus on what can't be missing from your deck anyway.
These are topics such as
Storytelling of your brand, including your team and any consultants. This allows the retailer to see that you are working with relevant areas of expertise, and that inspires confidence.
Developments in your food/drink category, as well as trends and developments in the industry.
Your distinctiveness and USPs
Product proposal (expectations and pretense)
Positioning and shelf advice
Logistics data (the shelf life, order quantity, pricing, etc)
And the big question: "what's in it for them?"
When in doubt, ask!
Many entrepreneurs could have saved themselves difficulties if they had simply said something about it. The conclusion we can draw from this is, asking things is and always will be important. So before and during the creation of your pitch deck, it is good to get the answers to important questions. For example, ask a retailer if there are limitations around shelf life or if they have a focus on certain messaging (a sustainable story, for example). It seems simple, but not everyone thinks about it.
Together you stand strong
"It's really about collaboration when you decide to take your products to a retailer and make the connection," says Danielle. When you present yourself to a retailer, it's important to remember that the collaboration is a two-way street. With this premise, you will always have your noses in the same direction. This not only gets you to a deal faster, but it's also easier to stay on the shelf.
"Speaking from my experience, I can truly say that making your interlocutor feel heard is an advantage. This makes that person more likely to achieve positive results."
Start with the small fish
Want to be on the shelf of the largest supermarket in the Netherlands? Cool! But don't underestimate the value and benefits of starting at a smaller fish in the sea. Starting at a small retailer gives you a chance to practice telling your story and fine-tuning your business before the meetings with big fish come along.
Knowing what you are talking about is at least very important to closing a retailer deal. You are only as good as your data. Of course it is necessary to share your pricing and volume information, in addition, data about the industry is also a good addition. Of course, use only reliable sources for this.
Helpful industry data sources:
Let's talk investors
This blog focuses on retailer pitches, but there is a lot of overlap with pitching for investors. Still the focus is on the problem, the solution and everything you learned in this blog. This article from Forbes provides some more information about pitching to investors.
Also, check out our Investor Pitch Deck checklist:
Distrifood - the first month is free. You will find many articles on sales data, which can be a good starting point. Retailers use it too!
CBS or CBP - a government agency with a large amount of consumer data that is easily accessible.
Nielsen/IRI- a good place to find out how your category is trending when looking to buy data.
Proveg - very helpful for vegan free dates.
Store visits - it never hurts to step inside and ask directly.
Practice makes perfect
It's familiar advice, but practice as much as you can! Make sure you know everything before you enter a meeting. From the information about your category, to your logistical requirements, don't leave anything out. We can also advise you to practice your pitch on acquaintances, but better yet on someone from the industry itself. They can give you that bit of perspective you haven't come up with on your own.
You never know one hundred percent what your competitor is doing and sometimes a retailer says they are very excited about your product, it is not a deal until it is signed. It's hard, it's competitive, but ambition and persistence always pay off.
Having doubts about whether you can handle it alone? Then hire someone so you can handle this professionally together.
On June 1, Danielle gave a workshop for the KR Academy about this topic. She also offers a 3-month coaching program to help producers like you build on the fundamentals when it comes to retail strategy. Be sure to send her a message at Linkedin or check out her website.