This subject is an ocean in itself. And to be frank, there is no perfect way to make a sales pitch. The key to making a convincing sales pitch lies in applying the techniques discussed in this article properly and practicing it to perfection. My intention is to guide sales people and business professionals to refine their pitch to eventually strike a deal. No matter how good your capabilities are, a well-planned presentation is a must to create a good impact.
First let us try and structure a sales pitch. Having a solid content is inevitable, and sequencing it properly is equally important. Following are the essential elements of a good sales pitch
1. ‘Sell’ your company
A business meeting is a key opportunity and the sales person can utilize this to take the customer through his/her company’s business, revenue, market performance, awards and achievements, customer testimonials etc. This establishes a certain level of credibility. However,it is recommended that this session be kept to less than 20% of the whole pitch duration.
2. Problem statement
Following introduction, the presenter should get into the actual business needs of the customer. He can also utilize this section to point out problems or needs the customer might not have realized. To do this, you can talk about trends and challenges generic to the industry, and then move to specific customer challenges. The customer problem(s) can be further divided into business goals (which is the overall expected outcome, e.g. improve market share) and project level goals (specific requirements, e.g. install new digital marketing tool).
3. A solid solution with a value proposition
This is where the service provider presents the solution to the problem statement. The solution could include multiple sub topics and components. The pitch should discuss your USPs (Unique Selling Proposition) and convince the customer as to why they should buy your product or service. Also talk about your key differentiators and how your solution can overcome some or all of the customer challenges.
4. Prove what you have done
Too much of capability discussion will not entice the customer. Once you have described your value proposition, mention cases where you have already done it. The idea is to convince the customer by showcasing your experience and exposure to similar scenarios to the customer in the past.
5. Create a logical flow of topics
The presentation should not seem discontinuous at any point. Every topic or slide should follow from the previous one. The customer should feel that he is listening to a story. This will help to keep the energy levels high and retain interest till the very end of the presentation
6. Key takeaways
If the presentation is a story, then it should have a message. The pitch should not end abruptly and should give the customers something to think over and both the parties to act upon. So, it is a good idea to separately mention the action points while you summarize the presentation in the end.
7. Regular follow up
This requires patience and motivation. Studies show that only 2% of first level interactions have resulted in sales. Also 80% of potential opportunities are lost just because there was no follow up. Sales people could use a combination of techniques such as email marketing, LinkedIn messaging, webinars, events etc.to keep the lead live.
Making your sales pitch special
In the previous section, we discussed the essential components of a sales pitch. But presenting a solution just like others is no good with a ton of competition around. To create a long-lasting impact, you have to make your pitch stand out, look a little different from the usual and have a few ‘wow’ instances in it. Here, I would like to cover some tips for you to make your pitch impressive.
1. Go beyond the barriers of the contract
Customers are always attracted by business value created without extra investment from their side. So, sales people can offer customers with additional services/offers apart from what is there on paper. Such a service could be one that doesn’t cause a significant expense to the sales person’s organization. A classic example would be extending the company’s training facilities to the customer. The presenter can emphasize on this in the presentation to generate more interest in the customer.
2. Represent your content better
This is very subjective and there are a multitude of ways to do this. Following are a few ways to enhance your content:
- Less of text and more of images that can convey the same message
- Include funny/interesting videos and animations
- Represent numbers in graphs and figures
- Create attractive slides (a recent practice is to prepare the presentation deck by using customer’s color theme, but make sure the customer would be okay with it). If time permits, create custom figures and designs instead of using standard smart arts and pictures
3. Don’t just present, but converse
This is one of the best methods to keep the customer engaged. Make the customer part of the presentation by asking questions, opinions and views. The sales person can also ask questions around customer’s business, vision, roadmap etc.
4. Share experience stories
This is a very powerful technique to instill confidence in your customers about you. Create a story around how you as an individual or organization tackled similar customer scenarios before. This is an extension of point #4 of the previous section, except that here the difference is that you try to positively influence the customer at a more personal level.
5. Get the customer to feel what you sell
Well, this might not be possible for all the products and services. Rather than speaking a lot about an offering, providing the customer with the actual experience of using it or feeling it is way more convincing. For example, to sell a printer, instead of just listing the features, the presenter can demonstrate a printer live for the customer to inspect and feel. Another example would be a technology company presenting a VR (Virtual Reality) offering. In this case, the presenter can let the customer use the VR gadget and experience the offering for himself. Doing this provides the sales person with two advantages:
- Make the presentation more lively and interesting
- Convince the customer easily by letting him/her feel the product
6. Generate curiosity by sharing the agenda/glimpse of your pitch
Sharing your topics of discussion in advance will generate enough curiosity in the customer. It might be a good idea to use fancy taglines in the agenda shared. See a few below:
- Our cutting-edge technology that has helped hundreds of customers to reduce their cost by more than 50%
- <Product name> – named one of the top 10 most innovative products of 2018
- A state of the art research centre guided by 10 of the top 100 scientists in US
But this is a double-edged sword. Although a very effective technique, if the presentation doesn’t fulfill the customer’s curiosity, this might backfire.
7. Don’t say that your product or service will change the world
This is debatable. It is important to have belief in your product or service. And it’s not wrong to believe that your product/service will revolutionize or change the way a certain industry or segment of an industry works. But you shouldn’t go overboard, especially if the product is new with very less proof points. I have seen this go wrong in several presentations. There is a higher tendency with entrepreneurs to be overconfident about their product even before having proven it in a test market.
I am not denying the fact that there could be a product or service like an Airbnb or an Uber that could revolutionize a whole industry. But those are outliers. And it is hard even for an expert to accurately predict the success of a product or service. Hence when you make a sales pitch, better be reasonable with your expectations and predictions.
That covers my tips and suggestions to prepare a good sales pitch. But making a sales pitch also requires the sales person to understand his customer. Please have a look at The Curious Case of Customer Relationship Management to know more about customers and how to manage them effectively. You may also take a at 10 ways to improve your customer relationship to explore ways of achieving a long-lasting relationship.
Please feel free to shoot any questions you have in the comments section or write to me at email@example.com