Pitching an idea and selling it effectively is a crucial skill to master, whether you’re interested in building a business, advocating for a cause, raising money, recruiting supporters, or just trying to get people to come to your party on Saturday. Here’s what you need to know about crafting a persuasive sales pitch. (Then find out how to deliver it like a boss!)
FIRST, KNOW YOUR STUFF
Before you start to sell, you better know all the in’s and out’s of what it is you’re selling. Again, whether it’s a product, service, business idea, cause, or date to the prom, make sure you know the what, where, how and WHY of the thing. You want to describe what you’re selling and articulate why your audience should come on board. You also need to to answer all possible questions and objections your audience might raise.
If you want to sell something, know what it is, why it’s awesome, and why people will want it. But to really know why people will want it, you got to know people first.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Too many people make the mistake of falling into what I call the “book report” method – delivering a detailed summary of what it is you’re selling. But the first and perhaps most important thing to consider when making a sales pitch has nothing to do with what you’re selling, but everything to do with to whom you’re selling it.
Figure out who your customers are. Who would be most likely to want your product or service? Who would be most interested in what you have to offer? What kind of person would they be, what other sorts of things do they like, and where can you find these people? In sales this is called finding qualified prospects. For example, if you’re selling vegan snacks, a rodeo may not be the best place to find qualified prospects.
Research your audience. Once you’ve located some qualified prospects, get to know as much as possible about the company and individual to whom you will be delivering your sales pitch. Find out what the business’ or person’s specific needs are and how they relate to what you’re offering. What will they gain by working with you? What problems can your product or service solve? In other words, your focus needs to be: What’s in it for them?
When preparing to make your pitch, make sure you’ll be making it to the right person. Identify the person or persons who are authorized to make a decision about using your product or service. You can’t close the sale unless your audience has to power to make the decision to buy. (That power is a big part of being a qualified prospect.)
NOW YOU’RE READY TO CRAFT YOUR PITCH
Tailor your pitch. You don’t want to deliver a generic or “canned speech”. You’ve researched your customer (you did, didn’t you?), so now you can speak directly to what your audience wants, needs, and cares about. You can make your pitch or presentation uniquely suited to your prospect’s situation or problems.
Don’t do a “book report” or engage in a “data dump”. Instead, tell a story. To hook your audience and make your pitch more compelling, use anecdotes, personal stories and/or emotionally engaging facts and figures. You want to connect with prospective customers’ own experiences and emotions. Use simple language and eliminate jargon or convoluted terminology. It doesn’t make you or what you’re selling sound fancier, just boring, or worse, like you’re trying too hard. In other words, never say “utilize” when you can just say “use”!
Remember to keep it short. Get to the gist quickly. Be able to offer a pithy summary of what it is you have to offer and why they should want it. Prospective buyers start to lose interest if you drag on and on for too long. Tailor your pitch, be interesting and relevant, but get to the point! Ultimately, you are building toward a conversation. An important feature of the pitch is to have two-way communication with your audience. You might already know their needs, since you’ve done your research. But you should give them an opportunity to tell their story and to describe what makes their situation unique.
Once you’ve written your pitch, continue to refine it. Edit for length, clarify meanings, and make language more dynamic and less canned and jargon-y. As you move from prospect to prospect, tailor your pitch by eliminating those parts that don’t apply to particular customers.
There are some things EVERY pitch should include. Make sure the pitch you craft always covers:
- Your name and the name of your brand or company (if relevant)
- The name of your product, service, cause, or whatever it is you’re selling
- The “What’s In It For Them” aspect. Let your buyers know how they will benefit. They want to know how you can improve their business, make their lives easier, solve their problems, get them the love, respect, attention, money, a slimmer waistline—whatever it is they want. If it’s a cause or proposed call to action you’re selling, let your audience know why it’s important and relevant to them.
- Why your product/service (or you, as a prom date) are different or ideally, better, than other options. In other words…
Differentiate yourself from your competitor. Describe how your product or service is different from others who offer similar products. You need to be able to articulate why they should use your service (or buy your product, or support your charity) as opposed to all the others out there.
Prepare answers to objections. Customers always have reasons, often good ones, to decline a sales pitch. But since you’ve done your research (you have, haven’t you?) you know your customer and you know your product, and you have already prepared answers to these objections. Make a list of 10 or more reasons why someone might say they don’t need what you’re selling, don’t care about what you have to offer, and craft responses to each possible objection so you’ll be ready when the time comes.
Now you’ve crafted your pitch, you’re ready to learn to pitch it like a rock star! Find out how to persuasively present your sales pitch.
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