Do you still consider a sales pitch to be an hour-long product presentation? If you answered "yes," we're sorry to have to break it to you: In today's fast-paced world, no one has time to listen to your value proposition for an hour. That’s why creating a winning sales pitch has never been more difficult, because it has to be both convincing and concise.
In addition to the fact that you must condense your product’s value proposition into a very brief description, you should still make it a compelling narrative that will pique your prospect's interest and encourage them to take the next steps. On top of that, it should be highly personalized, as recycling the same story no longer works for everyone. So now you might be wondering, "How and where do I start?"
Even though any experienced sales rep will tell you that creating a sales pitch is an art form, there are still some basic guidelines that can help you craft and personalize your first pitch. This guide will cover these basics that you should include in your sales decks, as well as provide you with a few examples.
What is a sales pitch?
Many salespeople make the mistake of viewing their sales pitch as a presentation of facts, figures, and results, expecting the data alone to be compelling. However, a great sales pitch is not about the numbers. Instead, think about it as the short story you tell your client.
To give a clear definition, a sales pitch is a brief presentation meant to convince a potential client to work with your company. These days, salespeople will typically have less than two minutes to explain what they do and how it will help their prospective clients. So why is there such a time constraint?
In today's technologically advanced society, people have shorter attention spans than ever before. Thus, neither salespeople nor customers have the time to sit through an extended presentation. As a result, today’s sales pitches are often referred to as "elevator pitches" due to the expectation that they will be delivered in the span of an elevator ride, more or less.
But is the time limit the only significant change that sales pitches have undergone in recent years? Not at all. There's another factor to consider, which is communication channels. Your sales pitch can now take the form of a phone call, a brief speech at a networking event, a presentation in front of a panel of decision-makers, or even a message on social media. In fact, any time you introduce yourself and give someone the rundown on your business, you're making a sales pitch.
So now that you have a general idea of what a sales pitch is, let’s dive into the details.
What should you include in a sales pitch that sells?
Below, we'll examine the best way to tell a story in your sales presentation so that your prospect is likely to become interested in and excited about your solution. Consider including the following four components in your pitch for best results.
1. Pain points
Contrary to popular belief, a product pitch should not begin with the product. The focus of your pitch shouldn’t be the features of the product or service you’re selling, but rather your client's major pain points and critical challenges that your product or service will help them solve. If you find that sweet spot, your pitch will undoubtedly resonate with decision-makers. It will not only catch the attention of the potential customer, but will also demonstrate that you've done your research to truly understand their needs. This act of making them a priority over your own needs is what will keep them listening.
One way of creating your pitch around these answers is to explain what is likely to happen if your prospect continues down the same road, without pursuing a solution like yours. In this case, objective data from a third party can be very helpful, as it provides evidence that backs up your solution.
2. Features as superpowers
Once you describe the issue you're solving and why they should pay attention to it, it's tempting to start pitching your solution. However, before you go into detail about your product and its features, there’s a crucial step you must take first: Demonstrate the potential outcomes of making the change and how they'll benefit if they take action.
There are two approaches here, and it may even be best to combine them. You can either:
- sell your product's features as an improvement over the "old way"; or,
- sell them as a set of superpowers
Your product or service can be positioned as a new and more efficient alternative to solving the problem, and as something that can only be achieved with the assistance of the right people or organization—which is you. Using data or a list of features can help you compare your product to older methods and/or similar products on the market.
Or, you can create a "villain" and position yourself and your business offering as the heroes who will fight against it. A "villain" is a representation of old ways of doing things—like legacy systems and other forces that work against the client achieving the desired result.
Whatever approach you choose, keep in mind that you are selling your vision, not your product. It's not your product or service itself that represents the new way of doing things; rather, it's the lifestyle that will be possible for your client thanks to those improvements.
3. Proof that the opportunity is too good to ignore
You could add a sense of urgency to your sales pitch by explaining what will happen if they don’t act on your offering. Putting the emphasis on a change rather than the problem itself will instill a sense of urgency and get them to talk about how they may be affected. By doing so, you can transition from negotiation to collaboration.
Always keep in mind that the key to successful selling is establishing genuine connections with people. The good news is that with this approach, you have a greater chance of establishing meaningful relationships and attracting prospects who share your beliefs.
4. Proof of success
You can't have a complete story without this last piece: evidence. In what ways can you support your own arguments? Case studies are one of the most common. You can use them to demonstrate how your existing customers achieved results with the help of your product or service, as well as how you assisted them in navigating the new world.
On top of that, case studies will show your prospect a bit about your typical clients so they can empathize with them. Why does this work? As humans, we’re always looking for a sense of belonging to a specific group with which we identify. Sharing stories of other clients can help them realize that they’re not alone in facing this problem, and that teaming up with you is the best option because you have already successfully helped others in a similar situation.
What elements make for a bad sales pitch?
If you want to close the deal, you should stay away from using certain sales techniques because they're either too dated, too aggressive, or just not effective. So before you send that pitch or pick up the phone to call that client, make sure you don't have any of the following warning signs in your pitch:
1. It’s too long
We've talked about this one already. You need to think of your pitch as if you only have a minute or two to make your case. To put it another way, you should be able to deliver a compelling sales presentation while walking from the lobby to the second floor.
2. It focuses too much on you/your company
Since your sales pitch is so limited in time, don’t waste it on talking about yourself, and avoid “I” statements. Instead, frame it around your potential customer, their pain points, and their needs.
3. It’s all about money
If you bring up money or finances right off the bat, a potential customer may tune you out immediately. It shows that you aren't interested in what they have to say or what their needs are and care only about making a sale.
4. It’s too complicated
While in the prospecting phase, buyers aren't ready to dive deep into your solution or read through your entire pitch deck. So stay away from heavy facts and stats that are hard to comprehend in the beginning stages, especially if you’re talking on the phone.
5. It’s too casual
Building long-term relationships with your clients is a great strategy. However, it does not happen overnight. Being too familiar or casual with prospective customers right off the bat can be off-putting or perceived as presumptuous. Remember that respect and courtesy are key.
6. It’s too generic
If the pitch can be used with any potential client, it isn't personalized enough to capture the attention of the one you're about to speak to. That means it has very little chance of helping you close the deal.
7. It offers false assurances
It can be tempting to try to impress potential customers by exaggerating product features or promising free services. However, doing so will only lead to disappointment if the product or service falls short of expectations, or if promises of free delivery are broken. Speak positively about your company and service, but be honest and realistic.
Tips for improving your pitch
We hope that the section on common sales pitch mistakes was informative and that you now have a better understanding of what to avoid. Let us now share a few best practices on how to build a great pitch.
1. Do extensive research
Thorough research will help you construct a solid foundation of value for your pitch, increasing the likelihood that your prospect will respond positively. Consider the following questions:
- Who are you targeting?
- What does their business do?
- What objectives and goals might they have?
- What are the issues they're facing, or what are their pain points?
Don't forget to find out who the decision maker is, what they do, and if you share any common interests that could serve as the basis for a productive and friendly working relationship.
2. Make it short and clear
When presenting the benefits of your product to potential customers, be direct and concise. Your presentation needs to get straight to the point. Nothing will turn off a potential customer faster than a long story that ultimately fails to convince.
3. Tell a story
This is what keeps your audience interested. Begin with the challenge faced by the client, talk about how they can make progress toward a solution, and wrap up with the most significant outcomes the client may experience as a result of working with you.
Think about your target audience and incorporate visual and interactive elements to enhance your presentation, especially if you’re planning for a video call. Remember, language, tone of voice, humor, and body language can all contribute to your story.
4. Focus on the needs of the customer, not your own
A successful sales pitch is about the customer, not you, and the value proposition is central to it. If you want yours to resonate with your prospect, determine the nature of the challenge they're facing first, and then customize the value prop as much as possible.
Will you help them in cutting costs? Increasing productivity? Automating manual tasks? Buyers will respond most strongly to how your product helps them overcome obstacles.
5. Personalize and tailor
The key to success is personalization. Most salespeople assume that because one model worked for one client, it will work for another. But if you are determined to close more deals, it's important to adapt your materials to each specific situation and audience.
You might now be wondering, “How and where do I get all this information?" Well, personalization is most effective when it’s based on a discovery call in which the salesperson asks probing questions designed to reveal the prospect's most pressing pain points. Once you've done that, take advantage of what you've learned to fine-tune your pitch.
6. Get personal (while remaining professional)
One of the keys to consistently successful sales pitches is knowing your target audience. You can show your prospective client that you care about them by, one, tailoring your pitch to their interests (which takes us back to points one and five) and, two, highlighting connections you share with them. If you want to establish a personal connection with someone, it’s good to learn a few details about their background. Such elements as previous work experiences or universities attended may be great places to start.
7. Educate them
Including some relevant facts or stats in your pitch can help you stand out as an expert and grab the attention of your target audience. You can also encourage them to learn more about your company and the services you offer by providing additional resources. This way, you’re giving them the space and time to research at their own pace, demonstrating that you’re collaborating rather than pushing to close the deal.
How to structure a sales pitch
Now that you know how to create a sales pitch through storytelling and how to avoid the most common mistakes, let's take a closer look at the essential components of a successful pitch.
Your hook should grab the attention of the potential customer in the first few seconds of your cold call or email. Here are a few examples of what you can say:
- Ask a question to get the ball rolling: "How would you like to increase revenue..."
- Drop a fact: "Did you know that productivity increases by 30% if..." or "Did you know that buyer engagement increases by 72% if..."
- Refer to a recent meeting or event: "It was great meeting you at..."
- Mention a shared interest: "I noticed you’re also interested..."
Once you catch their attention, quickly explain why you’re contacting them and the benefits they can expect from your product. This value proposition should be brief but compelling. For example, you might:
- Explain your product in simple terms
- Provide some data, case studies, testimonials, or market research that demonstrates why they should consider collaborating with you
- Answer the question, "What's in it for the client?" by linking the potential benefits of your product to their desired outcomes
Call to action (CTA)
Last but not least, always end your phone call, social media message, or email pitch with a call to action or a request for availability for a call or meeting so the prospect knows what to do next. Whatever it is, choose a CTA that’s strong, timely, and actionable, such as:
- “How about 15 minutes next week?”
- “When are you available to have a longer conversation about this?”
- “What’s the best way for us to connect?”
- “Do you have time next Wednesday for a quick call?”
Sales pitch examples
It's time to start adapting your story and value proposition into the context of an effective pitch. We’ll now look at five of the most typical sales pitch formats and how they work, as well as give you a few entertaining examples.
It may come as a surprise, but a good old phone call is still one of the most effective sales methods. Why? Because your potential customer will have a much more difficult time ignoring something that’s as straightforward as this. Introduce yourself and see if your prospect is interested. If so, proceed to the next step. Here's a suggested structure:
- Briefly introduce yourself.
- Highlight the prospect's pain points and/or the differences between the old and potential new ways of doing things.
- Showcase some of your current or past customers’ accomplishments thanks to your solution. Don't just list the data, but present it in the form of an engaging story.
- Ask to what level they might be interested and anticipate any potential objections they may have.
- Schedule your next meeting.
To get some inspiration, take a look at the most convincing phone sales pitch from "The Wolf of Wall Street."
Using email to introduce yourself and your business while also highlighting the benefits of your product can be an excellent sales strategy. Keep in mind that less is more: a 25-word email is usually more effective than one with 1,000 words. (The latter simply won’t be read.) To help you organize your email pitches, here’s a simple template to follow:
- Make the first sentence about them specifically
- Create a brief paragraph (no more than four short sentences) that captures the information from the phone call pitch template
- Ask if they'd like to know more, and suggest a quick phone call as the next step if so
Unfortunately, hitting a lot of voicemail inboxes is not unusual for salespeople. It’s okay though, because successful deals frequently begin with a few attempts to speak with your prospect. If you have to leave a message on a prospect's voicemail, try to leave a good impression and lay the groundwork for your next contact. This is how you can condense your sales pitch into a voicemail:
- Briefly introduce yourself
- Explain why you’re calling and, succinctly, how your product can help them solve a problem they’re having
- Leave your contact details so they can reach back out to you if they want
If you've been able to secure a face-to-face meeting with a potential client, you’re already halfway there. This means that your prospects are interested in your product, which is a huge step in the right direction.
Pitch decks are sales presentations that incorporate visual elements. This way, you can capture your audience's attention by appealing to their visual senses, making it easier to present your product or service. In other words, you have more options than just words; you can demonstrate the beauty of your product or service in action.
Check out a great pitch deck from the movie "The Dilemma."
Social media pitch
Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are perfect platforms for reaching your potential buyers and sharing your narrative.
Twitter and LinkedIn messages both have character limits, so to get your point across, you have to get creative. Sometimes, it's best to zero in on one specific aspect of your story. For LinkedIn, you'll need to send a request to connect first. Once your invitation is accepted, you can make your pitch in the same way you would over the phone or in an email. For Twitter, you'll want to take a slightly different tack: Find people who are discussing an issue you can help with, connect with them, and build your conversation around that.
Like we said before, it's hard to make a sale the first time you talk to a customer. That’s why you should try to set up a second or third meeting where you can get to know each other better. Successful follow-up pitches strike a balance between being relevant without becoming intrusive. One effective strategy is to bring up some prior interaction as a means of setting the tone.
You might do this by:
- Introducing yourself by referencing your previous interaction
- Briefly mentioning the issue or pain point
- Describing how your product can help them with their issue
- Progressing your conversation from there
Before you go
Not all sales pitches are equal, and they shouldn’t be. The key is to remember that they’re all about meeting your potential customers' needs, not your own. And since the golden rule is to not waste time, not all of the elements on the list are required in every pitch. Use this guide to spark your imagination, then tweak and adjust depending on who you'll be speaking with and for how long. Remember, practice makes perfect!
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