Executive Speaking Weblog

Communication – the future of business

The Sales Pitch

Posted by Presentation Skills on June 2, 2008

If you want to win the business, you need to shine in front of the client!

It seems that to win business these days you have to be able to deliver a knock–out presentation to the client. And unfortunately it does not matter how good your product or service is, if you cann’t sell it and yourself in the presentation you wont win the business.

So what makes for a good sales pitch? Here are five key elements to consider.

  1. Cast Your Team.Do you have the right person in the right spot. Just as you would not put a salesman on-site to run a project, consider if it is best to have your leading project manager leading the sales presentation. While it will be essential to have their expertise when developing the presentation, consider if they will be able to sell your vision to the client. If they are not, replace them with someone who is. Then use the project managers skills on the day as the ‘expert’ on the technical issues.
  2. You are On Before You are On. From the moment you engage the client you are being judged. This is true for the day of the presentation as well. From the moment you leave your office to visit the client and make your pitch, you are being watched. When you pull up in the car park, are waiting in the reception and setting up your presentation you are being watched and judged. Act as though the client is with you always.
  3. Dress as They Expect You to Dress. Have you ever seen a politician in the outback talking to the locals? They usually have their shirt and tie on. This is the way that the locals expect to see their politicians, so this is the way that they dress. So how do you dress? Whilst I do not suggest that every person appears in a 3-piece suit, it is important that each person dresses for their role. If you are leading the presentation from a sales or ‘Company’ perspective it will probably be best to wear the suit. However, if you are the project manager you will probably be best suited to wearing a polo shirt and long pants to reflect your ‘hands on’ approach. Even if you never wear long pants on-site you will need to wear them for the pitch. Long pants show respect where short pants will not.
  4. Do You Need PowerPoint? If you consider that every company making a pitch will use PowerPoint, how will the client feel at the end of just 4 presentations? This is real Death by PowerPoint! To stand out from the crowd, construct a presentation that does not rely on PowerPoint. Use stories, word pictures and elicit emotions to get your message across. If you need to convey data intensive information then PowerPoint is fine, but just leave it at that. You want to stand out with your presentation, not become one of the herd.
  5. Remember it is About the Client.Even though you are there to sell yourself, the presentation is all about the client. Work out what they really want and then sell them that. If you are pitching for a $500,000 computer system upgrade, know what the customer wants … And I will guarantee you that they don’t want a new computer system! What they want faster, more reliable processing; they want systems that work together and they want to automate their processes. They don’t want a new computer system, they just know it’s the best way to get what they want.

Good luck with your next pitch!

Til next time,

Cheers

Darren Fleming

Australia’s Public Speaking Coach 

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3 Responses to “The Sales Pitch”

  1. terrygaultthg said

    Darren,

    These are some excellent points.

    One thing I might add is that using extending metaphors can help guide the audience along.

    I personally suggest that presenters distill the main idea of their presentation into a single sentence. They should say that sentence with strong emphasis at least once, but preferably three or more times. The audience is more likely to grasp and remember the main point of the presentation this way.

    Now if there is a story or metaphor that conveys the point of that sentence simply and with impact then it should be used as a recurring theme, both in terms of language and visuals. One of my clients talked about selling the various components of his company’s solution set much like his childhood dog would slowly work his way onto his bed. Starting with one paw, then the next – always watchful to see if he would be kicked off. If he weren’t stopped, the entire dog would end up on the bed. He suggested that his sales team approach their clients in the same manner – one paw (product set) at a time until the customer didn’t notice that the entire dog was on the bed, the entire product set had been implemented. He used a stuffed dog as a prop for his opener. Images of dogs were woven into the slides. He even had a tag line: “I want you to be the dog on the bed,” which definitely got a few laughs.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Hi Terry,

    Thanks for stopping by. I like your points, as always.

    Cheers

    Darren

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