Beyond the obvious “knowing your product inside out,” I’m often asked what I believe to be the most important factors when it comes down to preparing for a sales pitch. Now I know there are hundreds of tried and tested methods out there, but the success of a potential deal often hinges on the delivery of yours or your sales team’s pitch, so it’s vital to get it spot on. Nail it to the wall. So here’s some food for thought on pitching that perfect delivery.
Like Muhammad Ali once said, “The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road; long before I dance under those lights”. What he meant was of course that the hard work and preparation that had taken place before the fight meant all he had to do was turn up and finish it, more or less. This same thinking can be applied to pitching. You’re more than likely aware of the typical obstacles faced, such as pricing, implementation, previous experiences, value…these sort of things can be planned for beforehand. If there are going to be two of you delivering the pitch, decide who’ll focus on what areas. This allows for a more structured, professionally thought out meeting that’ll be reflected back to the client.
You only get one chance to make a great first impression. This is an age-old cliché but is so vitally important, it has to be included. Remember, the client has probably seen a thousand pitches in their lifetime. They’re not going to be your best friend right off the bat. So while it’s important to settle into a comfortable ambience, don’t dwell on it. Be confident, assertive and assured in what you’re doing. Demonstrate this isn’t your first pitch either, you’re the expert in the field and are fully capable of leading this meeting without being walked through the process. In no more than a couple of minutes, highlight what you’re going to talk about and why, while always keeping it contextually relevant to the client.
How do I explain this in a way people are going to understand, or more importantly, get people excited about my product or service? These are two key questions that are all too often overlooked by a salesperson. You need good content, of course, but if your sales PowerPoint would sell itself, then you’d soon find yourself out of a job. Convince the client that you offer something different, something genuinely different from your competitors. And be enthusiastic too, not over the top, but with just enough vigour to make them think “Yes, you know what, I do need this product”. If you ask yourself, honestly, would you be convinced by your delivery and the answer is no, then it’s a feeling likely to be mirrored by your client. Keeping it tight, concise and to the important will also help you here.
Another common mistake I come across is too many salespeople try and sell their product. What is he saying, you might think? Isn’t that what my job is? My point being that clients aren’t overly interested in how great YOU think your product or service is, they’re interested in how it can help them, or specifically how it can help counter the issues they’re facing. To this end, you must sell solutions. Talk with your customers, understand how they arrived to their current situation, what processes were implemented and the products used to get there. Only once their route has become clear can you start truly connecting with the customer. Questions not just about current issues, but what are they thinking about next month, 6 months or even a year down the line. Look at the potential bumps along the way and provide an alternative solution.
Finally, you must must must practice. I cannot stress this enough. There are very few people who are naturally gifted when it comes to an authentic, flawless pitch delivery on the fly. Very few. Even if you might think you’re the next Jordan Belfort, it’s probably an illusion floated by you and you alone (sorry to burst the bubble). But this is not to say you can’t be, it just takes a little practice. Whether that’s at home in front of the mirror, at the office amongst your colleagues or in an empty boardroom. Whatever works for you. Just be sure to make note of what you think you’re saying compared to what you’re actually saying. You’ll be amazed at the difference.