Each person in any business or profession needs to think of themselves as if they were in sales. Because the success of the company depends on everyone selling the same story.
I learned this very early on in my career. I walked into a business and the receptionist was friendly, polite, well-spoken and as I was waiting asked if I was familiar with the company. She then proceeded to tell me some highlights of recent successes. I was very impressed.
I do believe that’s why many companies now call that position the Director of First Impressions. And she definitely made a good impression that day.
What is a Sales Pitch?
One of the reasons I think she was so good at her “introduction” was that her company had taken time to develop their sales pitch. Now, many people “wing” their 30-second commercial. In reality, it should be one of the elements you work on the most. So, what is a pitch?
A true sales pitch tells how you can help solve a problem the person you are pitching may have. And it encourages questions. When you want to know how to write a pitch I recommend answering the following questions:
1. Who are our customers?
I’ve been watching Grace & Frankie on Netflix lately and they have started a business and their target audience is women over 60.
2. What problem does our product or service solve?
Continuing with the Grace & Frankie example, they have designed a vibrator that is more suited to an older woman – the size is larger and has a soft gel grip sleeve so it’s easier to hold with arthritic hands, it is light-weight and it has glow in the dark control buttons so it’s easier to see.
3. How does it help?
Well, according to the show, many women of an older age are without a partner and still want to enjoy sex. Their vibrator (and other now supporting products) makes that possible because it is designed specifically for an older woman’s personal issues.
4. If I buy what is the result (what does success look like)? The why?
Obviously, with our current scenario, the success is a lot of very happy woman. In the show, their Facebook page lights up with women exclaiming that they thought that part of their life was dead.
How Would you Write the Sales Pitch?
“We’ve designed a vibrator with the special needs of a woman over 60 in mind. Our vibrator is light-weight and has a special soft gel grip that makes it much easier to handle if you have arthritis. And the glow in dark controls makes it easy to use. We help you enjoy sex again without some of the uncomfortable side-effects of age.”
Now that example may be a little long but given the product, I do believe once people hear the word “vibrator” they will stay and listen to or read the rest!
One of the keys to an effective sales pitch is that it must be short. If it takes you an hour to explain your value proposition then something is wrong. If you can’t develop a short sales pitch, then you will need to go back to the beginning and determine how your product or service is solving a problem.
How Does Your Company Help Solve a Problem?
Many good sales pitches start with “our company helps you with something.” It could be they help you reduce your debt, increase your sales, save money, travel more, grow longer hair, or lose weight. Whatever it is, it needs to be a compelling reason for your target customer to want to learn more.
Your value proposition should be telling your prospects why they need to do business with you over your competition as well as the benefits (how you can help) they will get from using your product or service.
Uber has an excellent value proposition: The smartest way to get around. Tap the app and get a ride. How simple is that? It short and to the point. And if you go to the website and see the visuals it’s very clear what they are offering.
What is Your Value Proposition?
So, once you have a clear-cut understanding of your own value proposition then it’s much easier to develop an effective sales pitch.
In addition to answering the who, what, why, how questions above, it is also good to have a format to follow in structuring your pitches.
- Start with a statement or question. “We help women over 60 enjoy sex again.” Now if that doesn’t get attention, I don’t know what will.
- Now share the benefits, concisely. “Our soft grip gel sleeve vibrator is lightweight and can be easily repositioned for ease of use.”
- How? “Our product is specially designed to provide pain-free enjoyment”
- Proof? “We have thousands of satisfied customers, in so many ways.” Then maybe relate a few quick customer stories or comments. On the show, they share many from their Facebook page.
- Closing? Now is the time to ask an open-ended question so the real conversation can begin.
It’s Not About YOU
Your sales pitch shouldn’t be about you. Your sales pitch should be about your customer’s needs and how you solve them. And it can be advantageous to use a sales promotion technique as part of your pitch. For example, ” we currently have a special offer of a free trial or a free demo if you come in”. Those can be highly effective in moving the sales pitch to a conversation and ultimately a sale.
If this seems like you need to include a lot of information upfront that is not my intention. The best sales pitches are short and to the point. Get rid of the professional jargon and the run-on of all that your company does. You don’t want to come off as too salesy. Just help the prospect understand who you help and how. Quickly.
Keep It Short
It is okay if they aren’t interested because that means they aren’t a prospect and you can move on to another potential customer. If you spend 15-20 minutes trying to explain what it is you can do for them and then they walk away, you’ve wasted that time. But if it only takes you less than 2 minutes – think how many more people you can tell your sales pitch too!
I have heard good and bad pitches at just about every networking event I go to. And I’ll admit, I have given good and bad ones about my own company. Some days I may try to adjust my pitch and it works well and other times the change was awkward.
One good example I heard recently was from a B2B video business. “We change the way organizations are using video for sales, marketing, training, and onboarding. We can show the ROI of your video marketing initiatives by tracking who watches and for how long so you can justify the spend.”
It is short and to the point. I get it.
Solve a Problem
Another example that is short and to the point: “We have a user platform for people to be able to say what they actually think about software, and not be told by analysts or people who don’t use it.”
If someone came up to me and I wanted to research software, I would want to get on their platform.
Each of these pitches has two areas that could use some improvement. They both don’t introduce themselves or their company. They jump right into what they provide. I personally like to connect to the person I’m speaking with before I jump into my pitch. I like to say hello, introduce myself, maybe mention my company name, ask for theirs before getting into the pitch.
Start a Conversation
The other element that I think is missing in each of these examples is the close. Where is the question to determine interest? How are they now going to engage in conversation?
After you get past the sales pitch into a conversation, what do you do? If they have shown true interest in learning more, be prepared with an engaging success story or one that highlights your value proposition. If you are familiar with the company or have seen something about them recently then mention it. “I just saw your latest blog and I related to what you were saying and it reminded me of …”
These techniques can help you begin to develop a rapport with the individual. A big step to gaining their trust and ultimately their business. As we all know, people like to do business with those they know and trust.
And when going in with your sales pitch, be sure you know what you want out of it. In these short sales pitch, it is typically an opportunity to meet to discuss further.
For me, if someone has shown true interest then I will close with, “It’s obvious we can help, so I’d like to set up some time to meet and discuss the next steps.”
It works. Many times, we will pull up our calendars on our smartphones and set up the meeting right then and there. If not, I follow up with a calendar invite when I return to my office.
Even if they don’t immediately want a meeting, I recommend always following up with those you meet and pitch. A soft no doesn’t necessarily mean a hard no. You may not have had their full attention. In your email follow-ups, it is best to include another way you can help. And, of course, always ask for the business.
As you develop or rework your sales pitches you may want to try them out on your team, your family and friends and get feedback. Is what you do easy to understand? Is the value proposition clear? Would they respond to your questions?
Your sales pitch doesn’t always have to be the same. The more you know about the prospect, the more you can tailor your pitch. Therefore, if you have done your homework you will have many examples and success stories to draw from.
Her corporate marketing experience included National Advertising Director for Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc., and Director of Marketing Services for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Read More