10 Steps to Fine-Tune Your Sales Pitch

Tips for a better sales presentationWhen it’s time for the pitch, preparation beats PowerPoint every time.

A sales pitch is an intricate dance. You want to demonstrate your value with convincing proof, but without boring your prospects to death. The clock is ticking, yet rushing will muddle your presentation and lose you the business in record time.

Over at Bplans.com, Tim Berry has a great post called “10 Things I Hate About Your Business Pitch.” If you’ve ever sat through a tedious presentation, you can probably relate to some of his peeves, such as bluster, blaming and slides full of words – not to mention reading slides full of words. If you’ve ever been on the other side of that conference room table, pitching your product or service, you might wince a little if you recognize some of these in your own presentation.

They say good salesmen are born, not made, but I disagree. A little planning and practice can pay big dividends. Berry’s list is a great primer on what not to do in a sales meeting. So here are my ten suggestions for things you should do to improve your next pitch.

1. Invest in sales training.

Years ago, I took an executive sales training course, and it’s paid for itself many times over. Sales training is crucial to honing the people and presentation skills that bring in business. Even a natural salesman could benefit from a little instruction, just like a gifted athlete benefits from a coach who can raise their game.

2. Pre-qualify leads.

Use lead scoring or marketing automation tools (MATs) to evaluate which prospects are a good fit for your business – and which ones actually want to hear your pitch. Screening out unqualified prospects saves you time, focuses your energies and improves your chances of closing the sale. Keep prospects that aren’t sales-ready simmering on the back burner until they are ready to buy.

3. Do your homework.

Conduct research on the company you’ll be pitching, as well as the people you’re going to meet. For one, it will help you better understand their business needs. And gathering some personal or professional information lets you build a natural rapport on your first call – a key ingredient in getting a second meeting.

4. Ask leading questions.

Get prospects talking about their business, their concerns, their obstacles and their expectations. As they talk, you’re learning what it will take to close the sale. Don’t lead with a canned pitch or PowerPoint presentation only to find out you’re selling hacksaws to someone who needs hammers.

5. Summarize and set expectations.

At the end of every call or meeting, summarize what was agreed and discussed. Then clarify with the prospect the expectations for the next meeting. This ensures everyone is on the same page and the next steps in the process are crystal clear.

6. Identify your presentation objectives.

When it’s time to make a presentation, consider what products or features best address the prospect’s needs. Make that the centerpiece of your presentation and sell it to them with a laser-like focus. Likewise, determine what the prospect already knows and needs to know in order to make an informed decision, so when you step in the room, you can skip right to solving the problem that’s foremost on their minds.

7. Provide supporting materials – at the right times.

It’s a good idea to supply an agenda at the start of your meeting to help orient your prospect. But when you’re making your presentation, don’t hand out your presentation or a lengthy document. They’ll easily get distracted looking at your materials and stop not listening to your carefully crafted pitch. However, do leave a copy of your presentation after the meeting if you haven’t closed the sale.

8. Anticipate questions and objections.

What might your prospect ask that you haven’t planned for? (How many people on our team will it take to implement this?) What reasons could they have not to buy? (We’re moving to a new location in three months, so this isn’t the right time.) See it from their perspective and cover all the angles. Having a response ready helps to defuse those lingering doubts and can help save a sale.

9. Know when to close.

Throughout your presentation, take the temperature of the room and ask if anyone has questions. When you think you’ve won the pitch, stop talking and ask for the sale. The longer you go on, and the harder you push, the better the chance you could fumble the sale at the one-yard line.

10. Follow up.

If you receive a firm no, move on. If not, make sure you stay on the prospect’s radar. Look for more clues as to how you might solve their problems. Share relevant sales materials and, when it makes sense, try to set up another meeting. Even after the sale, you should check in periodically to reassess their needs and sell additional services.

What would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments below.

Photo: Beta Soluciones Empresariales

One comment

  1. Pingback: Strategies for a Successful Proposal | Marketing Westchester NY | InSight Marketing of Westchester NY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Marketing with a Local Touch

Serving the Greater New York Metro Area Including the Counties of Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and the Bronx; along with Fairfield County, CT.