The Wikipedia definition of a sales pitch is: “a planned presentation of a product or service designed to initiate and close a sale” and, quite frankly, if it was as simple as that then I’d be out of a job and you wouldn’t need to be reading this.
And that’s the thing. Sales presentations are complex, and because of this complexity they’re darned easy to get wrong and very difficult to get right. But how do you know whether the presentation you’re about to make is pitch perfect or off key?
Here, then, is a checklist of strengths and weaknesses that will help you analyse your presentation and make it the best that it can be.
Weakness: You’ve got a vague idea about how you’re going to pitch but you’d rather leave it all up to spontaneity. You’re going to hoof and hustle your way through because, after all, you’re a sales person and that’s what sales people do.
Strength: You’ve fully researched not only the customer but the company you’re pitching to. And you’ve done it in such detail that you’ve not only scripted a presentation outline but you’re backed up with the knowledge that’ll keep you in control even when the pitch goes off-script.
Weakness: Everything you’ve researched is in your presentation. You’re going to throw the kitchen sink at it. You’ve given your pitch a go-through and have added even more because you’re wary of leaving anything out.
Strength: You’ve taken your rehearsing seriously. Every time you go through the pitch you take something out. You hone what you have and edit out the waffle, knowing less is more if you want to keep the prospect engaged.
Meeting the right person
Weakness: When you got in touch with the prospective company you were put through to a person who you’re going to keep as your contact. After all, it’s someone you know and they work for the company so that’s okay then.
Strength: You are determined to present to the person who can authorise a purchase. What you’ve done is find out the background of your contact and if they need authorisation from a line manager to say yes then you’ve got that line manager in the meeting with you.
Tailoring the pitch
Weakness: You’ve got a superbly researched and rehearsed presentation. It’s taken a lot of work and you believe you’ve got it bang on. Now you want to roll it out to every prospect on your list.
Strength: You know you can’t use a generic presentation. You also know that every prospect is different, even if they’re in the same industry. You’ve dug deep, got on the phone, used email and found out what makes each prospect on your list different. Then you’ve tailored each of your presentations to include this information. The base presentation is the skeleton. Each time you make it you flesh it out to match the individual you’re speaking to.
Post pitch analysis
Weakness: You presented and you didn’t get a sale so you run the same pitch again to another prospect and hope your luck improves. Or, conversely, your last presentation got the sale so it works and you’ll do the whole thing again without change.
Strength: Whether your last pitch worked or not, you’re going to analyse it. See if areas can be improved. See if it can be shorter, more entertaining, more heartfelt, more flexible – whatever it needs, you’re on a mission to continually evolve your pitch, hone its strengths and cut out its weaknesses.
Time to put theory into practice
As you can see here, getting a sales presentation right isn’t definable in a single line. You’ve only got one chance with every prospect. The rule is to give yourself the best chance possible. Okay, it takes hard work but as the saying goes, hard work really does pay off.