One of the most frequently made mistakes during a sales pitch, is when entrepreneurs focus on their companies rather than on the audience’s problem and their solution. Companies will buy and hire your solutions to their problems, not your products and services.

The first minute of your pitch is critical. If your audience believes you understand their pain and can provide them with a solution, then you’re more likely to gain and keep their attention than if you start by talking about yourself. So always begin by focusing on their problem and your solution, and make that the focus of your pitch.

An opening along the following lines will immediately get your audience’s attention:

In this presentation, I am going to show you how you can reduce your distribution costs by 35 percent.”

Steve Jobs, who, among his many other achievements, consistently delivered the best sales pitches the world has ever seen at the annual Macworld events, understood and demonstrated the importance of focusing on customer benefits of Apple’s latest product. In a 2007 CNBC interview, Jobs was asked about the iPhone and its importance to Apple. Jobs answered

We have the best iPod we’ve ever made fully integrated into it. And it has the Internet in your pocket with a real browser, real e-mail, and the best implementation of Google Maps on the planet. iPhone brings all this stuff in your pocket, and it’s 10 times easier to use.”

Although the reporter’s question was about the importance of iPhone to Apple, Jobs focused on the benefits for Apple’s customers. So always remember when pitching, it’s about them not you.

Martin is the author of ‘Here’s the Pitch‘ available now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and all leading booksellers