The chances are that you operate in a competitive market, so it’s vital to do everything you can to give your sales and marketing team all the resources they need to win new business. One area that is often not given enough attention is the sales pitch.
We work with a range of people who are either new to this type of presenting or they want to work with us before each new business meeting to practice and polish their approach. Each company will work in a slightly different way, according to the product and target audience but the work that pitch teams need to do to get ready tends to split into the following areas:
Research; defining and understanding the client’s specific needs cannot be underestimated and it’s very unlikely that a ‘one size fits all’ approach that will work for most organisations, so each pitch needs to be tailored.
You will have to consider what this client will really want to hear from you and what you can do that will grab their attention – do you already have this information or will you have to do more research to find it out? Once you have a clear idea of the client’s standpoint you can put together your approach so that you are hitting the right buttons and making it clear they can rely on you to do the job required.
Content; your overarching message needs to be clear (and probably repeated) but it also has to resonate with the client; explaining how you and your product or service will benefit them, rather than just listing the features, will help to convince them. You also have to consider the materials you will use in the pitch itself – do you need/will they expect visual aids? Will the client want to see examples of the service or product?
If you use slides then make sure they look clean and professional; don’t overload them with text and try to add in colour and illustration to bring the presentation to life. Think realistically about how much time you will have and whether you need to shorten or simplify what you’ll say.
Delivery; using an external ‘sounding board’ to check how you come across is almost certainly a good idea and when we run pitch training courses we normally use a cameraman so that trainees can see themselves played back and then critique their own performance (as well as getting feedback from the trainer).
It’s only through practice that a pitch team will become comfortable with the content and work out any kinks or nervousness in the delivery. It’s also important to have a run through of the Q&A part, as even the best presenters can become unstuck by an unexpected question. Taking a step back and thinking about any possible negatives around your company/product and making sure you have an appropriate answer will give you confidence but it will also mean you come across as in control when any unwanted queries come up.
If you are putting in the time to get all of these areas right, then the chances are that your team will stand a very good chance of being ahead of the competition.
Written by Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.com – November 2014