I own ~50 restaurants, have sat through hundreds of pitches, and have spent millions on new software and hardware solutions. Here are the biggest mistakes I see over and over again.
1. You send email or Linkedin messages instead of getting a warm introduction
I am not going to read your emails. Also, please stop the LinkedIn messages requesting specific call times or sharing product demos - it gets old quick. Instead, get a warm introduction to me - a recommendation from someone in the industry is worth infinite “perfect pitches.” If your pitch needs to be cold, call me and leave a short message. I’ll probably still ignore your call but I may listen to your VM. If you don't leave a message, I will assume you’re spam and block your number.
2. You talk to my employees
Don't Google my store number and call my employees. You are wasting everyone’s time. You need to talk directly to a decision-maker - usually the owner or a department head. Department heads are good leads because they’re usually working on initiatives and are open to new solutions.
3. You don’t scrub this “secret” free database of contacts
Did you know you can find the contact info for every major U.S. franchised system in their publicly disclosed FDDS? You can get names, phone numbers, etc. - all for free.
4. You think you got the entire call to get my attention
I barely have time to breathe, much less to listen to your pitch. You got 20 seconds to get my attention or I am hanging up. I don’t care what you’re trying to “disrupt,” just start with what process or system you are replacing / improving and why I should care.
5. You think you will blow me away with your “results”
Everyone promises me everything but I know your estimates are BS. I expect only <50% of the higher revenue / lower costs you promise to end up flowing through as real dollars. You won’t be able to fix my skepticism, but defining a short-term success metric and hitting it will make me much more comfortable rolling you out to the rest of my system.
6. You want to do a big deal
Unless you are a well-established name-brand player, don’t even ask me to consider signing up all my locations for whatever you are offering, it ain’t happening. Offer me a low-risk trial with 1 location and a short-term commitment or even better - no commitment. To be honest, if you’re an important system that’s adding value, we will just keep using you.
7. Your onboarding process takes more than 10 minutes
If your onboarding process is non-intuitive, takes more than 10 minutes, or is disruptive to my team’s workflow, go away. My employees are busy and we don’t have time for it.
8. You don’t offer integration with our critical systems
Our point-of-sale system (Toast, Aloha, Square, Lightspeed) is our central nervous system and command center. So if your product doesn’t have easy integration with our POS just stop talking. This is an absolute dealbreaker. Figure out your customer’s critical systems and make using your product as painless as possible.
9. You think you got the deal
Once you get me interested, you still need to convince the other stakeholders in my org - usually my GM or Head of Ops who will need to implement your solution. If they don’t like what they see or hear, we are not doing it.
10. You make it difficult for me to say “Yes”
If you’ve passed all the hurdles, don’t make me jump through hoops to close the deal by sending a 20-page doc full of complicated and aggressive terms - I'm not going to deal with it. Send me something easy to understand and mobile-friendly so I can read and sign it on my phone. The best sales teams close me while I’m still on the phone.
If you are selling to SMB owners and want me to take a look at your closing process and documents, just email me.