I spent years without giving any thought as to How to start a sales pitch and without doubt, it seriously compromised my sales success.
I was too focused on delivering the entire pitch rather than taking the time to set the scene perfectly, to allow the rest to happen, so to speak.
I simply concentrated on making sure I introduced myself and my company and then went through the process of describing the features, advantages, and benefits (FAB) of my products and services, before putting myself into a position of having to ask for the order or what is termed as the process of “closing the sale.”
A process that I loathe and believe is totally unnecessary.
You must start as you mean to go on and when you start your sales pitch the right way, you set the scene for an effortless, seamless process that will captivate your audience and compel them to buy from you, rather than you having to work hard to sell to them.
There is a vast difference and it doesn’t matter if you are trying to write powerful sales copy or pitching in a face-to-face meeting.
You still have to work hard by the way but make sure to work hard on the things that will make your life easier in the long run, especially when it comes to making those all-important sales pitches.
Too many salespeople and Internet marketers load their sales pitches and presentations with unnecessary information and follow “rules” that some sales trainer, guru, or twelve-week business accelerator course has told them to follow, rather than follow a simple, logical formula and their own instincts.
Keep it simple
The sales and marketing training industry are like the diet industry — it’s worth billions and there are always “new” ways to do things as opposed to the “old.”
Supported by millions of dollars of advertising investment, the gurus are there to take your money and lure you into the latest trend, knowing full well that you will be at some time, back for more…don’t fall for it.
If you want to lose weight, you know in your heart that you have to eat less, exercise more or both, unless of course there is another reason that is preventing you and the endless diets and exercise programs are designed for quick fixes, knowing that these fixes are not sustainable in the long term, or you will very quickly fall off the wagon and be ready to try the next one.
If you want to sell something to someone, then you must make sure you present a simple, clear, and logical case for your product to your buyer as well as being able to understand the innate human factors that will stand in your way with regard to a buyers perspective.
Don’t fight them.
I’m going to give you my 3 golden rules that I follow when starting a sales pitch and it’s vital that you use them in your own way — they will provide you with the headlines that you use to drill down further and provide the details, plus they will help you to stay focussed.
How To Start A Sales Pitch: 3 Golden Rules
You are setting the scene and the goal is to hook your customer quickly, keep them interested and give you time to make your offer…your compelling “no brainer” value proposition.
And you don’t want customers to go to switch off or bounce off your sales page.
So let me walk you through each of the steps involved.
The Customer Outcome
I once saw an advert from an airline who was offering holiday packages and at the time, I was looking for the usual hot and sunny vacation spot which is common for us Brits as our weather is far from ideal if you are a sun worshiper.
The advert hit me in 3 ways:
- Portrayed the usual luxury beach vacation spot with white sand and clear blue water.
- Showed the hotel with the room layout, explaining the multiple restaurant options and the nearby town.
- Gave me the price with an upgrade option for higher-class travel and room accommodation and the security of travel insurance and deposit protection, in line with their brand.
They had sold me the outcome, answered some of my key questions, and given me two pricing options, plus covered any issues I had with regard to insurance and money.
All of this from one advert and what can you learn from this with regard to your own sales pitch?
Customers only really care for what they want and that must always come first.
You have to go beyond solving customer problems and show them what life looks like after.
When I was trying to sell complex software to large multi-national corporations, I was too focused on the technical aspects of the product and how they would solve their problems as the focus of the sales process, rather than describing how their business life would look like after our solution was implemented.
That is your first and in my opinion, most critical step.
In the above example, I should have focused on how the software would have provided key management information to enable faster, better, and more accurate decision-making that would allow their executive leadership team to focus on what they do best.
The “problem” comes next!
If you are selling in the way I prescribe, you will have conducted a ton of research and that will involve the uncovering of customer challenges and problems both current and for the future.
Hopefully, you will have taken this a step further and looked at the economy in general, the specific industry sector you are operating in, and concluded the same.
Putting the two together will give you both a big picture and a specific customer-centric view, that will demonstrate to your customer that you clearly understand what you are talking about and also that you have taken the time to research their business.
As a former CEO, I have sat through and delivered a huge amount of sales pitches and the one thing that annoys me most, when I am on the receiving end, is when the salesperson has clearly not taken the time to research my company, or cannot demonstrate a high degree of knowledge of the industry I operated in.
The same is true of the generic Internet marketers who throw together the “Dear friend” cold emails or landing pages that are simply too generic in their appeal.
If you want to gain the trust confidence and attention of your customer, you must demonstrate a high level of understanding of their business.
You must be predictive in your approach.
In a face-to-face sales situation, you will definitely prompt further discussion if you have done your homework and you will have gained more trust from your online campaign — these are the foundations of good selling and landing good customers consistently.
It is also essential that you address future problems and challenges because you are displaying again, that you have not only an understanding of what is happening right now but also what could happen in the future.
When you start your pitch and have described the outcome, you must get to the heart of the matter and address the problems concisely…remember that this is just the start…the framework for the rest of the presentation.
Going back to my software example, my company had identified that the specific sector of the industry we were operating in was working with basic and cumbersome spreadsheets that were not unified and their use was creating huge delays in obtaining critical management information…and the problem was going to get worse as technology advances in the industry were creating more and more data that had to be analyzed.
There was a clear need for a unified and automated solution that was able to provide fast, accurate management information and was also predictive in nature.
Make Your Offer
Now, this is where you must be bold and put your offer on the table and unlike the airline advert example that is designed to convert there and then, you don’t have to go into the pricing of your product or service, just make your offer.
Now, this is where it gets specific to your industry and business and there are no rules here other than to make sure that your offer is clear and succinct.
Many salespeople and copywriters do not clarify this critical part of the process and leave ambiguous messages or ones that simply promote a series of questions, or worse still, push the customer to their competitors.
In my software example, I had described the outcome to my customers, showed a clear understanding of the current and future problems and when it came to the offer, I simply explained how we had built a specialist software tool, developed from our own proprietary methodologies that had been rigorously field-tested, was continually optimized to make sure it stayed up-to-date and could be purchased outright, leased, or used as a service.
That was it and from this point, I now had to go through the rest of the presentation to drill down deeper into the detail and it seriously reduced the number of questions that were asked, plus gave me more time to re-iterate the key and critical points of the offer.
Putting It Together
These 3 simple rules work together in harmony and they flow naturally.
The only other factor I must address is the human factor — we humans are a cynical bunch and we are very territorial.
We love to protect ourselves and our environment and when we are challenged, we react by putting up our natural guard in defense.
Consumers have wised up to old school selling techniques and are far more aware than ever before — they are able to conduct the very same research into the market, that I am recommending you to conduct as a salesperson, which puts them on an equal footing to the salesperson.
In fact, it gives them an edge.
Many salespeople and copywriters are guilty of arousing the primal defense mechanisms of their audiences and that only means an uphill struggle when it comes down to making the sales pitch — this can so easily be avoided if those defense mechanisms were never aroused in the first place!
Learn to make logical and factual sales pitches…ones that keep your customers engaged through the understanding of both the commercial environment and human emotion.
Lastly, it is important to be natural…be yourself and that is because you cannot be anyone else if you remain true to yourself.
Selling is a natural extension of who you are, whether you are trying to write compelling copy or win over your audience in a face-to-face meeting, so please do not try to emulate your latest mentors, gurus, or favorite Hollywood movie star.
You are “who you are,” so embrace it!
When you start your sales pitch, you are setting the framework for you to clearly articulate your compelling value proposition and that is what your customers are really buying.
It is vital that you hook your customer, keep them interested and give yourself time to get to the proposition before you lose the interest of your customer, whether you are working face-to-face or online.
Don’t get caught up in rambling on about the history of your company, its successes, and the features, advantages, and benefits of your products and/or services simply because at the start of your pitch, your customer doesn’t really care about you.
It is also vital that you understand human nature, which for me is the easiest part because of course, you are human.
Don’t fight this.
When I am on the receiving end of sales pitches, I very quickly want to know what’s in it for me.
And I also want to know that the person who is delivering the pitch has a thorough understanding of the industry I am operating in, has researched my company, has understood my current problems and challenges, plus what I am likely to face in the future.
If they start a presentation in this manner, covering the key points then I am going to give you my attention and allow you to get to the meat of the subject!
You may even compel me to buy!
Last modified: April 9, 2021