No matter how much time you spend developing your sales pitch, outlining the steps and practicing your presentation, there are a number of reasons why it might not be working for you. For some, it may be an issue of keeping up with technological advances and changing customer expectations. Others may be eager to get every last bit of information across, causing them to talk throughout the entire presentation, rather than listening.
Whatever the reason may be, it doesn’t have to be that way: with the right speaking techniques and presentation skills, you can ensure that your sales pitch doesn’t fall on deaf ears.
Despite the widespread usage of email, video chat, and phone calls, you still need to be able to communicate face-to-face: according to Salesforce’s State of Sales report, 87% of sales professionals rank in-person communication as “absolutely critical” or “very important.”
An in-person sales pitch not only requires strong speaking and listening skills, but also a highly effective presentation with powerful visual elements.
The following tips will show you how to develop your sales pitch so that you make a good first impression, keep customers engaged, and ensure that information is interesting and manageable.
According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Consumer survey, “business buyers value companies and salespeople who can help them simplify the task [of business buying],” with 67% of business buyers citing the importance of a sales process that is not overly complex.
The urge to describe every last detail about your product and company is hard to resist during a sales pitch – you want to show prospective customers all you have to offer. But all of that information can be distracting, confusing, and sometimes even downright boring.
Instead, you should stick to the key information and try to explain it using language that even lay people can understand. This will ensure that you get straight to the point and are well understood.
Giving a sales pitch can feel like a balancing act as you try to make a good impression, convey the right information, and address client needs. If one thing goes wrong, the whole presentation could come crashing down.
Instead, you can make things easier for yourself by breaking it down into manageable parts. This will simplify the task at hand, and enable you to continue with confidence – even if something goes differently than planned.
Consider the following advice from educator and expert in molecular biology Dr. Emily Grossman, who regularly coaches scientists in their communication skills:
“…think of your talk as a series of stepping stones, and imagine yourself hopping easily from one stone to another. If one stone becomes wobbly or is washed away, you can simply jump forwards, sideways, or even backwards. Your journey to the other side will remain intact.”
In his book Ditch The Pitch, Steve Yastrow explains that it’s “important not to railroad somebody, forcing them to follow your story choices.”
That is, salespeople often have an idea in mind of how each step of a sales pitch should go ahead of time, and then try to impose that idea on their actual interaction. This can be ineffective, and come across as pushy at times.
Instead, it’s better to let a sales pitch evolve organically, determining the right way to sell to the customer based on the natural progression of your conversation.
To effectively close deals, modern salespeople need to be just as good at listening as they are at talking. A survey conducted by Tack International shows that 63% of buyers rated salespeople as fair or poor when it comes to asking questions to assess their needs.
Combine that with the fact that roughly half of respondents found them equally unskilled at matching solutions to their needs, and it becomes clear why asking questions is so important.
And it goes hand in hand with number 3 on our list: the more you shape your sales pitch based on dialogue, the better you will be at assessing how to sell to a prospective customer based on what he or she needs.
Ask thoughtful, targeted questions to get the ball rolling.
Your body language can have a major impact on how people respond to your sales pitch.
It’s important to come across as enthusiastic, attentive, and confident. Lean forward to show you’re paying attention, make eye contact to build a connection, and use power poses to exude confidence.
As Steli Efti explains in Forbes: “Imagine somebody who doesn't understand a single word of English is in the room with you, watching you speak. That person should get the impression you believe in what you are saying, know what you are talking about and are enjoying talking about it.”
According to the social science research network, 65% of people are visual learners. Because of this, it’s absolutely crucial to include visual content in your sales presentations. Visual aids like images, videos, and infographics can make your sales pitch punchier and help you tell stories, break down information and get a point across in fewer words.
Still, before you start adding all sorts of pictures and slides to your PowerPoint presentation, it’s important to make sure all of your visual content is there for a reason and helps to convey specific information. There should be a balance between the visual and the verbal components of your sales pitch, so that the audience remains interested and informed.
Salespeople frequently use data and research to show how effective their company or product can be. Unfortunately, bare figures can come across as dry or confusing, and it is your job to make them clear and interesting. In this case, the right tools and visual aids can go a long way.
We now have access to a wide variety of presentation tools beyond PowerPoint – from digital whiteboards to video making tools to presentation makers that focus on high-quality images or storytelling.
Consider your options and use the tools that best suit the information you are presenting.
According to a study conducted by Everest College, 52% of US adults prefer learning through active participation, with visual demonstration coming in second at 28%.
Incorporating props into your sales pitch can help engage your potential clients and add a “hands on” element to your presentation. Props can be used to emphasize key points, make ideas more memorable and relatable, and show people how complex processes work.
Providing customers with the opportunity to try out a piece of equipment or watch a demonstration in person will surely leave a more lasting impression than simply describing your product.
The State of the Connected Consumer survey also shows that 51% of millennial consumers run their lives from their mobile devices.
These numbers are set to grow in coming years: it’s been predicted that 5.5 billion people will be connected through mobile devices by the year 2020. As these devices become increasingly commonplace, people turn to them more and more as their main resource for acquiring and sharing information.
Using a tablet as an interactive tool, or suggesting that customers access an app or website on their phones can add more texture and variety to a sales presentation. Most clients will already be comfortable consuming information in this format, and it will help retain their attention.
As you can see, there are a number of tools and visual aids you can use to make your sales pitch more effective. Still, you should keep in mind that overdoing it can have the opposite effect: cramming in too many images, props, and visual effects can be distracting and confusing.
Make sure that every part of your presentation is there for a reason – and consider leaving out any unnecessary flourishes.
When developing a sales pitch, it’s important to keep the audience in mind: Is your presentation interesting? Are you addressing customer needs? Is all complex information accessible?
Being a great speaker and using the right presentation tools can make a huge difference to your success in closing the deal.
Remember to keep information clear and straightforward while incorporating visual and interactive elements to keep things interesting.
This post is part of our Navigating the Sales Cycle series. Download the e-book and discover the 7 steps to sales success.