Principles of Pitching

No one’s ever said crafting a good sales pitch was easy. (If they have, they were lying to you.) Sales pitches are as much art as they are science, and a lot of what makes a pitch work for that client or for a specific salesperson can seem random or unqualified. We’ve put together five items that make a pitch stronger, leading to more lasting sales.

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Show your work

This may sound obvious, but demonstrate that you’ve researched the company, especially if you’re cold-calling them. This means really take a deep dive into their website and have concrete suggestions for what your service offerings would do for the client.

In this case, using your embeddable PowerListings scan tool can be a very powerful way of showing that you are addressing something that should be a real concern for the business owner.

Small business owners spend their days consumed by their business. By spending the half hour or so it takes to familiarize yourself with a local business and their needs, you immediately make clear to that potential customer that they’re a priority for you, and that you’re able to take the time to find solutions that meet their immediate, actual needs.

Have a concrete goal for the call

Your goal when you pick up that phone will always be a sale, but what does that really mean? A sale doesn’t have to mean a signature on the dotted line (though one should aim for that target with every call) — rather, a sale can be arranging a live demonstration or meeting with their board. Have a concrete goal in mind, and feel free to make it big — at the end of the call, the customer buys from you, at the end of the call you’ll have onboarded three locations, etc. However, more important, draw a finish line for yourself.

Remember: business owners are inundated constantly with pitches, information, advertisements, and calls, in addition to the myriad other parts of their business that vie for their attention. Their attention is fragmented and their time is precious; maximize the impact of your time with them by working towards a single, meaningful goal. It will be in the best interests of both you and the person on the other end of the phone.

Listen actively

In a world rife with distractions, it’s more important than ever that you practice active listening, especially in a call where you’re trying to persuade someone to pay you for a service you offer.

In any good pitch, the Pareto Principle should be actively at work: you should let the other person do 80% of the talking during the call time. Respond to their statements with thoughtful follow-up questions that dig deeper into the problems they are facing, and ascertain which of your service offerings not only solve that problem for them, but how much time/energy/money they will save by letting you take that problem off of their hands. Which segues nicely into the next tip:

Have a clear and coherent value proposition

You’d be surprised how often you make your recommendation, pointing out problems and answering objections that have popped up, without having said anything clear. Make sure that the person on the other end of the phone will hang up knowing why what you do is valuable, even if they don’t necessarily agree or want any part of your business.

To that end, you should be able to state exactly why your services are necessary in 30 seconds or less, or two minutes max. In other words: if you can’t tweet your value proposition, you need to reevaluate what you’re offering clients.

Beyond that, recognize that your value proposition has to be immediately obvious. For PowerListings, the value proposition is direct: PowerListings lets you control your business information, ensuring it’s accurate and up-to-date on 50+ publishers across the internet. Your service offering should have a service offering with equal finesse and clarity.

Definite next steps

When your call is wrapping up, ensure you have defined next steps — a call three days from then, a goal to have the first locations in their dashboard within three days’ time, a meeting to discuss new website design ideas, etc. The next steps should be concrete, easily understood, and have an obvious purpose. Remember, them signing on is merely the beginning of your relationship with this client. You will have to deliver real value to them every period in order for them to remain with you.

This means, as Guy Kawasaki has said, that you must enchant if you want to really connect with a candidate. “Enchantment is the purest form of sales.”

Need a pitch?

Because a pitch should be customized to your personal business, and what its offerings and possibilities are, I’m not going to give you a sample pitch. However, if you would like to test your pitch or ask for advice on building a better pitch, please reach out to your Partner Developers — all of them are experienced sales professionals who not only know what a pitch should look like, but can also help you get yours to have more impact.

Further Reading

Here are a couple of resources I used to develop this post.