We’re all being bombarded with a constant stream of information. Every single minute, we have some news article, video, email, text message, tweet, or photo competing for our attention.
When you give a sales pitch, you’re battling that information overload for your audience’s attention.
You’re trying to get the people in the room to focus on you—not their phone, not their email, not their dinner plans. You need their attention to be on your offering, right up until the moment they sign on the dotted line.
Here’s how you craft a pitch that will grab attention and leave a strong impression:
1: Prepare several days to weeks ahead of time.
Almost every bad sales pitch I’ve ever given was a result of not doing my research ahead of time.
Failing to do the proper research isn’t just dumb, it’s also disrespectful to the people you’re pitching. It’s a waste of time. Everyone assumes that if you’re standing in front of them, you’re a professional who knows what you’re doing.
If my team and I at ShipChain have an important call with a massive corporate client, we prepare for days—potentially even weeks—ahead of time. We create custom decks. We extensively research the company we’re pitching. We research the individuals we’re pitching.
When you stand in that room, your presentation has to feel like it’s tailored to that specific group of people. You’re strumming the guitar, looking into their eyes and saying, “This song is for you.”
But the only way to play the right tune is by researching. Find something unique about the company. Figure out what the person you’re presenting to is interested in and casually incorporate it into your sales pitch.
In my experience, everyone enjoys working with like-minded people. And they definitely prefer knowing the person selling a product to them did their homework before walking in the door.
2: Only present to the decision maker.
I can’t stress this enough: If you aren’t presenting to the decision maker, it doesn’t matter how much work you’ve done ahead of time.
If the decision-maker isn’t present, someone else is listening to what you have to say. And tomorrow afternoon, they’re going to walk into their boss’s office and pitch your company for you.
It won’t be anywhere near the quality of your actual presentation.
Never let anyone else pitch your company. If the decision maker isn’t available, change the meeting to a different time. Do whatever you can to get in front of the person in charge. That way, you only have to present once, and everyone only has to hear it once.
3: Pique their interest by showing what’s in it for them within the first 30 seconds.
When you’re pitching, you’re essentially on a stage. And like any good entertainment, you have to make it exciting.
A good tip is to start with something that gets their attention and keeps it. It could be a surprising fact not many people know. It could be an extremely relevant math problem. It could be a joke. It just has to be interesting.
Remember though, you don’t have an unlimited amount of time to spend on a convoluted joke about fictional characters walking into a bar. People need to know up front what’s in it for them.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, the higher up the exec, the lower their tolerance for people wasting their time.
You’ll run into people who will wait two minutes and then tell you, “Alright, that’s enough. I’m not interested.” When you don’t know how much time people are prepared to give you, you have to articulate your value quickly and get everyone’s attention right off the bat.
4: Be able to wing it when necessary.
If you’re invited to pitch, and you have time to prepare, then you should be prepared. No exceptions.
But there will be times when you have to give an impromptu sales pitch at a conference or a meetup. In these situations, you want to be able to adapt it and give it flawlessly. You have to know your pitch so well that you can change it in an instant to make it one-third shorter or twice as long.
That comes down to preparation, though. You have to be able to recite your sales pitch perfectly if someone shakes you awake at 3 a.m. and asks why they should buy from you. That only comes from practice.
5: Remember to close with an ask.
Let’s say you just wowed the room with your sales pitch. People are on board, you can just feel it. So, what next?
Your goal should always be some sort of close. That could mean they sign a contract right then and there, or it could mean you’re taking it to the next step. But you have to know what that next step is.
Maybe it’s a due diligence process. Maybe it’s a discovery process to sign a letter of intent. Whatever the case, you have to understand how to move forward and be prepared to make it happen.
The excitement you’ve created during your pitch will evaporate if you don’t have a close.
Not every presentation is going to lead to a sale. Some people won’t be interested, even if you nail it. But give yourself a fighting chance by doing your homework, making it interesting, and practicing it religiously—that’s the formula for closing.