After months of research and light stalking, you finally have a meeting with the prospect you’ve been chasing.
Now, it’s time to pitch like your life depends on it, but, suddenly, you find you have no idea where to begin.
So, what do you do? Probably what the rest of us do in that situation – Google. Well, the internet is a crowded place. In the interests of saving you time, we’ve found seven videos that highlight seven different aspects of what makes a successful sales pitch.
How to create the perfect sales pitch
We’ve focused on content (make it customer centric), delivery, tech, and timing to give you an all-round picture of what you need to consider as you prepare for your sales pitch. Ready? Let’s dive right in.
1. Press the pain point
This Shark Tank pitch for an app used by kindergarten teachers to share information with parents taps straight into an emotional pain point: Parents don’t know what their kids are doing all day.
The guy pitching introduces himself as a parent and talks to the Sharks as parents, effectively saying, "I am one of you. I felt the pain that you feel, and this is the solution I created to that problem." His pitch also includes cute videos and pictures of kids, which doesn’t hurt.
Shark Tank example
The reason this pitch is so effective is because it’s entirely customer focused. It begins by emphasizing the problem – an essential focus for any good pitch – and goes on to briefly address all the benefits of the solution without worrying about the tech at all.
Remember, people buy for emotional reasons. So, it makes sense to focus on benefits, rather than features. Those benefits might be different for different customers, so don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to creating your pitch. If it’s customer-centric (and it should be) then you might need to change the focus of your pitch when talking to different types of customers.
2. Know what you’re selling – it’s not a product
Have you heard the expression ‘sell the hole, not the drill’? It’s that whole features vs. benefits thing again, and, in this case, it’s based on the premise that people don’t buy a drill because they want a drill. They buy a drill because they need to make a hole.
When you’re writing your sales pitch, think about what your product means to people and all the broader implications that impact might have. Don’t just say your product saves time; give examples of what that time saving means. Don’t just say it saves money; think about what that money could be spent on.
3. Be engaging
If you want to build enthusiasm for what you’re offering, you have to show enthusiasm. Your customers want to hear it in your voice, see it in your face, and read it in your body language. If you’re nervous, your customers will feel nervous – and nervous customers don’t buy. If you’re bored, your customers will be bored. If you don’t want to be there, neither will they.
Your presentation style is a key factor in the success of your sales pitch, so it’s crucial that you engage with your customers. Connect with them on an emotional level – whether that’s with warmth, humor, or empathy. You need that emotional hook in order to reel them in.
If you want to know what engaging looks like, take a look at this guy pitching Party On Demand at Startupfest. Sure, it’s not everybody’s style, but there’s no doubting his enthusiasm for his product – and it’s clearly infectious, judging by the reaction of the audience.
Most enthusiastic pitch ever
4. Use storytelling techniques
Storytelling is a fundamental aspect of sales pitches. We use it to paint a picture of what life could be like with our product. We use it to dramatize the pain point customers are already experiencing. We use it to build engagement and elicit emotional responses to seemingly emotionless objects.
It works because the conventions of storytelling are so engrained in the human psyche that we’re all programmed to respond to them – not just emotionally, but chemically. We look out for characters to identify with, situations we recognize, and journeys we can relate to. We know that all stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. So, we understand that we ought to be listening for that arc, which (hopefully) means we’re engaged with what you’re saying while we wait to hear the outcome.
David Phillips gave an excellent TED Talk about the magical science of storytelling and why it’s so effective. The whole thing is worth a watch, but for a great lesson in the power of storytelling – how it increases focus, memory, and creativity – skip to the six-minute mark.
Storytelling TED Talk
5. Use slides wisely
It’s tempting to put everything you want to say into a slide deck to prompt you as you pitch. Equally, with all the potential of modern technology, you might want to say it with video, but we advise against that.
Sales is all about the relationships formed between people. If you read off a screen or put it all in a video, really what you’re saying is, "You don’t need me." And if they don’t need you, they won’t buy from you.
That’s not to say slide decks aren’t useful. Used wisely, they can emphasize and illustrate your point. Take a look at this example from Dragon’s Den. These guys are using their slide deck to illustrate their sales story. (Note: They also use storytelling techniques, push the pain point, know what they’re selling, and are reasonably engaging.)
Dragon’s Den example
6. Test your tech, then test it again
Ask anyone about their experiences of PowerPoint presentations and – no doubt –they will talk about the frustration and the awkwardness of PowerPoint failures.
Sometimes, slide decks just flat out don’t work or computers time out; the mouse runs out of batteries or the screen is inexplicably blurry and unreadable; they cut your presentation time in half and, suddenly, you have to skip over slides that seemed unmissable when you put them in the deck.
PowerPoint can be a nightmare, but there are a few things you can do to prevent some of the basic failures: Test your tech, practice your PowerPoint, and test and practice some more – on location when possible. We love tablets for delivering presentations because the intuitive swipe and tap cuts out the mousey middleman and makes for a much more fluid experience.
But what happens when things go wrong, despite your best efforts? That right there is the main reason not to lean on your slide deck to tell your story for you. If it only enhances your presentation and doesn’t work, then it's no biggy. You can carry on without it.
Though your gut may want to wait and see if the error can be fixed, your customers are unlikely to stay with you while that happens. It's better to continue with your presentation and make sure that what you have to say is so engaging that you don’t need pictures. You can always email the presentation over to your customers if there is something in particular you need them to see.
People root for an underdog. So, if you can win them over in spite of technical failings, chances are, that’s going to be the start of a beautiful relationship. The best thing to do is keep going. And – don’t worry – it happens to the best of us.
Remember the iPhone X launch?
iPhone X – failure at launch
He styles it out. Many, many people still bought the iPhone X. Apple’s world did not end.
7. Right message, right time, right place
So much of delivering a killer sales pitch is being the person with the right message at the right time in the right place.
You might be pitching in a meeting scheduled months in advance or off the cuff at an industry event. Regardless, your success will usually come down to knowing your product and knowing your customer – and getting to them at the right time.
So, how do you do that? A lot of research.
Keep abreast of where your prospects are at – both in terms of business and physically (which events they are going to). Watch for signs they may be interested in your offering and make the most of them. Connect with them on social media with the aim of adding value, not pitching over LinkedIn messenger. Make sure there’s plenty of positive, educational content out there putting your name under their noses. And when your time comes, seize the day.
That’s a difficult thing to find a real video of online. So, instead, our final video is a clip from, "The Pursuit of Happyness," in which Will Smith’s character is cold calling.
He takes a risk that pays off, putting him in the right place at the right time.
Cold calling pays off
It’s time to crush your sales presentation
Hopefully these clips have inspired you to give the best sales pitch ever.
Remember: you need customer-centric content that tackles problems not products; an engaging delivery that draws your audience in; storytelling techniques that keep them on the hook; and a slide deck that supports your pitch – without taking over. Then practice, practice, practice until you’re confident you can do it at any time and anywhere – you never know when the opportunity might arise.