Does it feel like someone is trying to sell you something everywhere you turn? No matter where you are, you are bombarded with ads. When someone pitches a product, service, or idea in a way that resonates with you, you’re persuaded to invest your time, money, and/or effort.
Let’s flip things around, though. What if you’re seller - you know, the one who wants to pitch a product, service, or solution? Understanding how to meet your buyer's specific needs and engage with them is vital to making the sale.
Here are 15 actionable tips that you can use to improve your pitch:
1. Do A LOT of Research ( And Know Answers to the Tough Questions!)
Every interaction with your buyer requires you to be 'in the know' about their market but more importantly about the challenges they're facing. Before you pitch your concept, you need to have answers in your pocket. Today's buyers are different and often in need of a 'trusted advisor' to help them in their decision process.
Starting with their problem and how you could help solve it is a great way to get their attention. If you've done your homework about their industry or have insight into how one of their competitors is doing something, you create even more value for that prospect.
Listening and understanding their needs is a continuous process at play during ongoing conversations and meetings after your first pitch. The preparation you've put in also helps to form clarity for your initial pitch. Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder, and billionaire entrepreneur, states, “It is vitally important to present a clear, concise plan that they can easily understand and repeat to their own people. In the first meeting, avoid overly complicated, numbers-laden presentations.” Your initial pitch can be over in a few moments — short pitches last 15 seconds — but you should be ready to continue the conversation to close in that first meeting.
2. Address Their Interest, the "WIIFT"
When you pitch something to prospects or customers, you need to offer a good return on their investment. Your audience wants to know WIIFT (what’s in it for them). If you can’t clearly outline what it is that they’ll be gaining, then they’ll have no reason to continue the conversation.
There are many ways to calculate the return. It depends on objectives. Running the numbers prior to pitching helps you to create a platform to interest the right parties. For example, if they are to expect a 20 percent return on investment, they should also have a clear idea of when they would receive that return. Will growth accommodate that return in a year to two years, or is it a different metric? Cover all the bases ahead of time and create concrete, realistic expectations for your buyers.
3. Show Current Growth and Progress
People want to invest in something that has already been proven. Significant projected growth rates can only be possible based on major traction in the here and now. Talk about your current customers, the growth rate in the last six months, and how your product, service or solution has been and continues to be improved. According to Adriana Galue, “The famous ‘hockey stick’ projected growth chart only works if you can show traction today. Showing how word of mouth is affecting your growth can be very powerful, as it indicates a viral component.”
4. Show That You're Around for the Long Haul
If buyers are making an investment in your product, platform, or service, they want to rest assured that you are around for the long haul. Let customers know that you are planning for the future and continually adding features and functionality that will help them better run their business and meet their revenue goals. Give them a roadmap for where you are going and allow them to trust that they can depend on you to keep the lights on.
5. Determine Customer Need
Solve real problems for customers. Find out about their concerns, what keeps them up and night, and their reactions to your offering. Hard facts and real-world experience should back up your pitch.
Work with as many stakeholders as you can to identify their issues and concerns. Do the footwork necessary to connect the customer problem to your solution. Then communicate that connection.
6. Highlight Past Success
Buyers want to know that they are placing their business needs into competent hands. Without a prior personal business relationship, they look for you to offer a synopsis of your business acumen. Examples should show specific achievements, the major clients that you signed, and the revenue that was generated due to your product, platform, or service. Buyers also rarely get insight into what other players in their space are doing. If you have like customers with successes, share their stories!
7. Get Crystal Clear on the Target
It shows competency when businesses can clearly identify a target market segment. An explanation of how the market segment will be captured includes the growth potential within the audience, findings of customer preferences based on research, and the chosen marketing channels to best promote the product or service offered.
8. Disrupt the Market
Don't be the 'that guy' that offers incremental improvements as reworked versions of a leading concept or idea. Your buyers want something that will help them make waves in the pond of their market.
Disruptive products and services offer something their competition doesn't - maybe it's a higher value to cost ratio or a simplified version of what competitors offer but delivers buyers the key features they need to make headway with their own customers.
9. Have Confidence in Your Pitch
If you seem unsure about the pitch you’re giving, then why should your audience take you seriously? You have to demonstrate knowledge about your buyer's industry. With confidence, you’ll find it’s easier to convince an audience that your pitch is worth listening to and that you’ve got something special. All in all, your confidence will spill over into your prospect or customer and will make them feel confident about investing in whatever it is that you’re pitching.
Preliminary research, both “bottom-up” and otherwise, helps to prepare you in a number of ways. You know the market and competition well. You learn how your product, service differentiates your solution from others. You can show that a healthy market exists and how your offering can contribute to addressing the needs of your buyer. You wouldn’t go to war without weapons - how can you pitch without research?
An offshoot of all of this knowledge is the ability to position yourself as an expert. As an expert, you'll be able to demonstrate confidence in the concept and method of delivery. You'll possess an understanding of the areas that need to be addressed before going forward and have the answers before anyone even asks a question. In today's buying journey, often they are simply looking for someone to be that 'trusted advisor' - the person that can help make their decision to change rather than stick with the status quo.
10. Get Pumped Up, Be Enthusiastic in Your Delivery
Emotions are contagious. People are biologically programmed to be aware of facial cues and emotions. A dry, fact-riddled presentation will not win the pitch. People need to see your emotional investment in the concept — your excitement. Your enthusiasm gives energy to your delivery and makes them want to hear more.
In a Forbes article with Richard Branson, author Carmine Gallo remarks that “Branson is unquestionably the most passionate business leader I’ve had the pleasure to interview. I believe his passion for disrupting the status quo is a key component of his charisma. The majority of business leaders who I’ve met underestimate the role of passion in delivering presentations. Branson looks for passionate entrepreneurs who understand the competition and ‘irreverently explain’ why their business will do better than the competition.”
Passion plus your differentiating business model are key components in your pitch.
11. Outshine the Competition
If you can’t outshine the competition, buyers will wonder why they should purchase your solution instead of someone else’s. To be able to outshine the competition, you must first understand them. And to do this, you’ll need to study the competition, noting along the way what makes your offering better than theirs.
Competition is a good thing. It shows that a market exists for your service or product. Being aware of competitors’ offers and pain points helps you to develop better processes and a different solution to your customer's problem.
A few ways to study competition:
- Research keywords and AdWords being used (Spyfu is a useful tool for this)
- Join industry associations and read trade journals
- Be a part of the conversation on social media groups
- Talk to new customers and read reviews of your competitors
Look savvy and well-researched. You will have more confidence in your delivery when supported by an in-depth understanding of the market and competition.
Invest time and energy by delving deeply into who you are up against, the current trends in the industry, and what customers have to say about the competition. This will help you to hone your message and avoid the pitfalls that have tripped up your competitors in the past.
12. Sell the Benefits
Content for pitching and selling should focus on addressing the needs of customers. How will your product, services, or concept help serve your customer base? Do you have evidence to support that this area is not being adequately met by the competition?
Features are secondary to the benefits themselves. Can this product or service be used within an existing interface, does it "play nicely" with other technology? How does it enhance the user’s experience or save customers time and money?
13. Provide Clear Visuals
When you have your audience's attention and they begin to ask questions, back up your elevator pitch with visual information.
People are visual creatures. Images and product demonstration videos help interested parties get a fuller picture of your concept. Modus allows you to upload your tailored presentations, sales material, and videos to be instantly viewable on any mobile device.
14. Give Your Buyer Confidence
Your customer knows they have a problem they need to solve. But with 70-80% of their journey being self-serve by absorbing everyone's marketing messaging, buyers often find themselves more overwhelmed and confused.
Sellers need to not sell but listen, understand and deliver the information that helps their buyer make the jump to a decision - an informed decision that allows them to confidently pitch to the other stakeholders inside their own organization.
15. Paint the Vision of Their Future and FOMO
Nobody wants to miss out on the next big opportunity. Focusing on the fear of missing out (FOMO) and painting that bright vision of what the future can look like for your customer is critical to your success.
But you can't do this by 'selling' the customer. With 78% of B2B buyers seeking a trusted advisor - not a salesperson, you must establish yourself in this position.
“Salespeople are under the impression that pitching their product is what makes deals,” said speaker and author Jill Konrath. “Anybody who is a victim of the pitch has their defense mechanisms up in full steam whenever they’re talking to somebody. They don’t trust them because they feel that they’re going to be pounced on.”
The preparation that is done prior to a pitch helps determine the strategy that will sell the company, product, service or concept to interested parties. Research bolsters your standing during negotiations. Keep all of the data handy and in one convenient location to show at any time. Modus helps sell your pitch with an easy-to-use interface that allows you to present charts, PDFs, videos, and even testimonials from current customers.
Now we want to hear from you. What are your top tips for an effective pitch? Comment below or tweet us @modusengagement.