A good sales pitch comes in four stages – research, planning, preparing and pitching – along with making sure you end your pitch properly and follow it up later if necessary.
To begin with, you need to think about who you are pitching to – not just the business, but the individual within that organisation too.
Make sure you know the principles the company stands for, and do your best to make sure your pitch is delivered to the most relevant person, with the buying power to close the deal, otherwise you are wasting your time.
A perfect sales pitch has timing
On the subject of time, make sure you know how long you’ve got to complete your pitch – you don’t want to get cut off before the end because your hour, half-hour or ten-minute slot is up.
Planning your pitch means knowing the most important information, and providing it upfront – this isn’t a murder mystery, there’s no need for suspense.
Once your main message is across in the first minute or two, you can expand on it with supporting evidence, justification of positive return on investment estimates, and so on.
Be clear in what you say, and support it with evidence, research and justifiable forecasts wherever possible, as a promise that “it’s really good” won’t hold much sway when there’s potentially many thousands of pounds at risk.
Plan to win
As well as planning the pitch itself, you need to prepare to deliver it. Know where you need to be, and when, and what the dress code will be – turning up to a building site in a suit can be as embarrassing as turning up to a corporate meeting room in jeans and trainers.
Make sure you are well rested and well fed, so there are no distractions to prevent you from delivering the best pitch possible.
Finally it’s time to actually deliver the pitch. Introduce yourself briefly in case anyone in the room doesn’t already know who you are. Individual handshakes aren’t necessary in a large group, but can help in a one-on-one meeting.
Have confidence in your abilities
If you’re not confident presenting to strangers, and you find it hard to fake it, then adopt some ‘safe’ body language – hide shaking hands behind your back, look slightly over the heads of the audience to avoid intimidating eye contact, and don’t hold papers if you can put them down on a desk instead.
Of course confidence is better – so make eye contact if you can, without appearing threatening or confrontational. It’s always better to refer to notes than to make mistakes from memory though.
Your pitch should end with a chance for your audience to ask questions, but there’s a good chance they won’t, so don’t allow a silence to become awkward.
Instead, use it to lead into your follow-up – tell them that if they think of any questions later, they can contact you, and make sure they have your business card or other contact details to enable this.
Follow up proactively by contacting the customer the next day, and disguise this as a ‘thank you’ for their time, even if you are really using it to remind them to make a purchase.
Not all pitches will end in a sale, of course – but by following the simple process outlined above, you improve your chances of making a positive first impression every time.