For many of us, the most intimidating part of becoming an entrepreneur is the prospect of delivering a sales pitch. Unless you’re naturally persuasive, asking for a sale can feel pushy, awkward, and uncomfortable. But, in order to have a full roster of happy, satisfied clients or customers, you need to get good at selling yourself and your services.
Luckily, delivering a great sales pitch is possible even for those of us without a silver tongue. All you need to do is do your research, have a plan, and treat your sales pitch like the conversation that it is, rather than an uncomfortable, forced interaction.
Read more to learn the eight steps to creating a great sales pitch.
8 steps to delivering a great sales pitch
1. Research your contact and their company thoroughly
The biggest mistake you can make is thinking of your sales pitch as a way to simply sell your product or service.
While that might sound counterintuitive (what is a sales pitch if not the way to sell what you offer?), the sales pitch should be about what you can do for your prospect. What are their pain points, and how can you solve them?
To understand this, start by researching your prospect. Who are they, how long have they been in their field, what is their background? What can you learn about their company? How long have they been in business, and what can you infer about what their pain points would be?
This will likely involve plenty of research on the company and prospect itself, but will also be a matter of researching the industry the company is part of. What are common complaints for businesses in that industry, and how can you product or service alleviate these concerns.
This is the foundation for a great sales pitch: a thorough understanding of your prospect, their company, and their industry. Without this foundation, you cannot speak to them directly and tailor your messaging to specifically target their unique concerns—and your sales pitch runs the risk of feeling too “sales-y” and inauthentic.
2. Focus your sales pitch on what you can do for them
As I mentioned above, the biggest mistake you can make in your sales pitch is focusing too heavily on the great things about your product or service, rather than how it can speak to the concerns of your prospect.
A great sales pitch is about how your product or service can make your prospect’s life easier, enable them to run their business better, and help them be more successful. It isn’t about your product or service, but rather how you can eliminate a pain point that they struggle with.
For example, as a writer, I would not approach a prospective client with a hard sell about how great my writing is, all the years of experience I have, or anything that threw me into the spotlight so heavily. First, I’d find out why they could stand to benefit from my writing services to begin with. Does their company have a website that could use some updated copy? I’d lead with some statistics about how they could increase their conversion rate by implementing more targeted website copy. Are they running blog that is poorly written and infrequently updated? I might discuss the benefits of quality blog content as a way to position them as a thought leader in their space.
By starting the conversation in a way that highlights what my prospect stands to gain from using my services, I am making it about them, not about me. Framing your sales pitch this way increases your success because the reality is, your prospect cares much more about their problems than your skill set. You’ll of course need to back up your credentials later, but build your sales pitch by focusing on how you can help them.
3. Learn to speak your prospect’s language
How does your contact talk about their problems?
This ties into the research component of preparing for your sales pitch, but it’s more nuanced than simply making sure you know the details of their business. To accurately sell your prospect on the value of your product or service, you need to be able to talk about it in terms that resonate with them.
This means, first of all, eliminating business buzzwords like “synergy” and “disruptive,” and actually cutting to the chase of what your product or service has to offer.
Ideally, you may want to consider reaching out to any contacts you have in the sectors you are targeting, and asking them to describe their problems for you. This first person research is invaluable, as it gives you a chance to hear your target market describe their problem in their own words. You’ll then be able to work this information into your sales pitch, and show your client that you clearly understand their struggles.
4. Consider their objections
What reasons would your prospect give to not use your product or service?
This could be anything from an existing relationship with a competitor, not thinking your service is necessary or valuable enough, not wanting to spend the money, not knowing enough about the value of your offering, and so on.
Depending on your product or service, you’ll know the common reasons why prospective clients might choose to pass on what you offer. If not, spend some time brainstorming and doing research. What objections could potential clients raise, and how can you counter them?
To offer a solid argument, it’s a good idea to back up your counterpoints with evidence-based facts. Continuing to use myself as an example, if a prospective client was unsure that redoing their website copy was really a priority that needed addressing (“We still get business with the website we have! Why should we change it?”), I might bring to the table some insights that illustrate the ROI from well-written, targeted website copy.
So, spend some time considering potential objections that prospects may have to your sales pitch. These could be based on research, past experience, or outreach to your contacts in that particular field. What prevents clients from using services like yours, and how can you counter these concerns and illustrate to them what they stand to gain?
5. Be authentic (not “sales-y”), and really listen
Oftentimes when we think of sales, we think of the stereotype of the pushy used car salesman. No one likes this kind of selling; it’s obnoxious, grating, and even if a sale results, your clients may feel bullied or strong-armed into their choice. It’s a bad relationship set up from the outset.
So, frame your sales pitch with a lighter touch. As I’ve already discussed, if you go into your sales pitch focusing on how you can help your perspective client, you’re already approaching it from an angle that puts the client and their needs first.
With that in mind, make sure you’re really listening to your prospect. No amount of preparedness is a substitute for attentive, thoughtful listening. Really hear their concerns, follow up with thoughtful questions, and try to find a way that your product can help address their pain points.
On this note, ditch the sales script. Nothing kills the authenticity of a sales pitch than a formulaic, scripted conversation. Having talking points is fine, but when you’re aiming to truly understand your prospect’s needs, each interaction will be so different that a script will only get you so far.
6. Ask if they need any clarification
How terrible would it be if, after delivering what you thought was a great sales pitch, you find out later that you didn’t make the sale because your prospective client wasn’t quite clear on some key aspect of your product or service?
Avoid this entirely by giving your prospective client a chance to ask any questions about your product or service that they might have. Once you’ve explained the value of your product or service, ask your prospective client if there is anything they would like more information about, or if there is anything about your product or service that they’re unclear about, or that they don’t understand.
This opens up further dialogue between you and your client (always a good thing—after all, it should be a conversation, not a monologue!), and gives you a chance to further explain the value of your offering.
7. Make a plan to follow up
If your client still seems on the fence, consider framing the culmination of your sales pitch as more as a call to action, rather than an immediate push for a commitment to buy or use your services. After all, your prospect might not be ready to “make a deal” yet, so coming on too heavy might push away someone who could potentially become a client down the road. You want to ensure that either your prospect agrees to purchase your product or use your services, or that you keep the line of communication open with a plan to follow up shortly.
For example, after your conversation with your prospect, this might look like leaving your prospective client with some information about how your services can bring in more business for them, and making it clear that you will follow up with them in a few days via email when they’ve had more time to think it over.
So, before you start to deliver a sales pitch, consider how you plan to continue the conversation. Will you follow up via email? Call them in a couple of days? Stop by the office to chat again at a specific time? Create a plan for whatever you have in mind, and make sure it’s concrete and clear—you don’t want your prospect confused as to what next steps you’ll be taking.
Once you’ve told your prospect how you plan to follow up with them, make sure to follow through. Call, email, stop by, and ask if they’ve had time to think about the benefits they stand to gain from using your product or service (it’s also a good idea to reiterate these benefits, too). At this point, your prospective client may have follow up questions, and you can have another conversation—or they may be ready to start working with you.
8. Don’t skip out on the all important “close”
Never make the mistake of forgetting to close the sale just because it’s a dialogue. Your sales pitch should be a back and forth where you tailor your messaging based on your client’s needs, but at the end of the day, you still need to close the deal.
However, the good news is that once you’ve gotten to this point, the setup you’ve worked so hard to achieve has done most of the work for you. All you need to do now is ask for their business.
Don’t make the mistake, however, of “talking yourself out of a sale.” It’s often said that after the closing question is asked, the first person who talks loses. While clearly not a rule, if you have a tendency to fill the silence out of nervousness, be aware of that here. Ask for their business, resist the temptation to add more information (remember, you’ve already given them plenty of info!) and let them offer you a response.
Final thoughts on delivering an effective sales pitch
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that you will get better with practice, and not every sales pitch is going to win them over. The best thing you can do to prepare is to come to the proverbial negotiation table having done plenty of research, and with a solid, sound plan.
Lastly, don’t forget—your prospective clients are only people. It sounds silly and obvious to think about, but practicing emotional intelligence will get you far. Deliver your sales pitch with your client’s interests in mind, practice good listening skills, and create an open dialogue. If you do all this, your sales pitch is much more likely to be successful.
Do you have any other tips for delivering a great sales pitch? Share them with us in the comment section below!