Maybe once upon a time, Hollywood’s depiction of life in sales was accurate. The always-be-closing mentality; all the chest-bumping, high-fiving and slick-talking.
But that approach is more 1980s than a Flock of Seagulls haircut. And, much like a Flock of Seagulls haircut, there’s no place for it in the contemporary B2B sales world.
Today, prospective clients don’t want to be sold to. They want your help. 79% of buyers say it’s either ‘very important’ or ‘absolutely critical’ that a salesperson acts as a trusted advisor who adds real value, rather than just a sales rep.
One consequence of this sea change is that sales pitches are now a very different beast. They’re less about shoving your message down a prospect’s throat, and more about understanding your audience and telling a story.
Want to know how to step up your pitching game? Check out these six examples:
1. Tell Your Story Through Pictures
By some estimates, we process visuals 60,000X faster than text. If you can’t visualize your message without resorting to dozens of lengthy bullet points, chances are it’s too complicated. And if it’s too complicated, don’t expect anyone to remember it.
Weaving a story through pictures doesn’t have to mean stripping out the detail. Contently and Airportels offer an example of how to combine (limited) copy with visual elements to explain the foundations of their project without leaving the audience drowning in text:
Flick through the sales deck, and you’ll see they’ve also avoided another common pitfall – statistics. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for an interesting number. But only 5% of people remember stats, while 63% remember stories.
2. Open Your Pitch with a Question
A sales pitch isn’t a solo performance. It’s a dialogue between you and the client.
The best way to get that dialogue started? Lead with a question. Something that relates to the potential buyer’s pain points and the solutions that your product provides. Use question openings like:
- Ever noticed how…?
- Doesn’t it seem like…?
- How do your team…?
- Wouldn’t it be great if…?
- What do you think of…?
I do this all the time at Voila Norbert. For instance, I’ll ask something like: “Your sales team probably spend hours every week tracking down email addresses, right?” Or: “How do your team verify emails when they’re doing cold outreach?”
3. Keep It Short & Simple
It’s a common mistake of rookie salespeople, and those who don’t truly believe in their company’s product: bombard the buyer with information and hope they’ll take the bait.
They won’t. They’ll be bored to tears, counting down the minutes until you stop speaking and they can get back to their desk.
If you genuinely understand the buyer’s pain points and how your product or service provides the solution, you should be able to distil your core proposition down to no more than a sentence or two. Given that some estimates put the average human attention span shorter than that of a goldfish, the shorter your message, the better.
4. Name Your Enemy
So your product exists to tackle a specific problem? If that problem isn’t front and center in your pitch, you’re doing it wrong.
Conversational marketing company Drift is brilliant at this. Drift has effectively declared war on lead capture forms, arguing that they’re too complex, slow and outdated. In short, Drift insists that forms aren’t fit for purpose and no longer deliver results.
This message makes the brand’s proposition much more interesting than if it just said: “We do chat bots, you should start using them yourself.”
5. Back Up Your Claims with Social Proof & Testimonials
At some point in every sales pitch, you’ll be asked a question like:
- Are you sure?
- X company told me this, were they wrong?
- Where did you find that information?
This is the buyer asking: “How do I believe you?” They’re (probably) not trying to be confrontational or difficult; they’re looking for reassurance that you’re trustworthy and know what you’re talking about. And that your company can deliver on the promises you’ve made.
To navigate through these potentially choppy waters, come armed with as much evidence as possible. Testimonials, case studies, Google Analytics screenshots, sales reports. Anything to demonstrate that you’re worth listening to.
6. Hammer the Pain Point
Pain points are everything. Taking the time to truly understand the challenges that keep your buyer awake at night is half the battle of crafting a kick-ass sales pitch. Once you’ve understood those pain points, come back to them time and time again, reminding the client that you have the solution.
The reason it’s so effective? It taps directly into one of the most familiar pain points of all – that parents don’t know what their kids are doing all day. The pitcher presents himself as a parent who understands the struggle and has a way to overcome it. No wonder the company, Brightwheel, won $600,000 of funding from the Sharks and has since raised a further $21 million from prominent investors like the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Remember What You’re Selling (Hint: It’s Not a Product)
If you only take one thing from this article, let it be this: the needs of your audience are integral to your successful pitch. If you can’t demonstrate how your product answers those needs, don’t expect to sell much.
Consider the old adage “sell the hole, not the drill.” Buyers don’t actually want a drill – they want to make a hole in something, and the drill is the best solution.
In the same way, buyers don’t want file-sharing solutions, email automation, or customer service software. Find the problem that your product solves, then build your pitch around it.
Seen a great sales pitch example that you’re itching to share? Got a tactic that gets buyers hooked every time? Let me know in the comments below: