This article covers the basics of how to do a sales pitch. We’ll start with a snappy, 30-second elevator pitch that uses persuasive techniques to grab the audience’s attention. Next, we’ll build that into a longer, more formal one-on-one pitch. And finally, we’ll look at how visual media elements such as slideshows, video and product demonstrations can liven up a sales presentation.
The elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is a short sales pitch that introduces people to your venture, usually in the space of about 30 seconds. Elevator pitches are commonly used at networking events, in online interactions, and in all sorts of day-to-day contexts – perhaps even while you’re in an elevator with a potential business connection.
To get started on crafting your elevator pitch, write a succinct definition of the thing you want to promote. You may find it helps to build your definition around ‘the 5 Ws’: Who, What, When, Where and Why.
Here are a few examples:
|Household chores helper app||Luxury chocolate brand|
|Who||We’re a team of busy software engineers who sometimes struggle to find time to do chores about the house.||We’re artisan chocolate makers.|
|What||We created an app that connects people who need help with some chores with people looking for casual work.||We make the best truffles in town.|
|When||The idea came to our CTO when their house was getting messy during busy times at work. Their partner found baked beans on the ceiling and said enough is enough.||We started up last year – but out master chocolatiers have over 50 years’ experience.|
|Where||We work out of a co-working space in Oakland, CA.||Our factory is in a small town in the Swiss Alps.|
|Why||We want to give people access to work opportunities or a cleanly home – whichever they need most at the time.||We want to continue the tradition of fine chocolate-making in our region.|
Create a table like the one above; write down your Who, What, When, Where and Why; then turn that information into fluid prose.
The next step is to refine the pitch by emphasising your uniqueness. Which details of your venture can be considered unique selling points (USPs)? These points should be emphasised in the script of the pitch, and also in the way you say the pitch out loud.
Examples of USPs to highlight in an elevator pitch:
- Unique product (“We’ve created the world’s first jewellery with lab-grown diamonds.”)
- Unique service (“For the first time ever, businesses can get an AI to configure their agile workflow.”)
- Unique people (“Only six people trained under master chocolatier Thibault Charpentier. We have three of them making our truffles.”
- Unique process (“Where we go against the grain is the fact our team is fully distributed – so you get the full benefit of our expertise, but at a lower cost, since we don’t have the traditional overheads that come with an office.”)
You should now have all the essential information your sales pitch needs. In fact, you may have too much detail. Time yourself reading the pitch out loud; if it currently takes much longer than 30 seconds, cut the least interesting info.
The final step in preparing your elevator pitch script is to make it more persuasive. Do this using persuasive language techniques, such as:
- Evocative language – use words that express the meaningfulness of your venture and the nature of the problems it solves.
- Tap into shared language – use language that fits the social group (sociolect) or technical knowledge (technolect) of the person you are pitching to. This builds rapport.
- Facts – a killer stat can support your claims. Try to find some information that will surprise people.
Don’t overdo it: too much persuasive language can have the opposite to the desired effect.
A successful elevator pitch will usually lead to follow-up questions. Think about the potential pitfalls of a venture like yours, and come up with an explanation of how you plan to avoid them. Think about the financials of the venture and the market it will operate within. Impressive answers to follow-up questions can be an even bigger sales magnet than the elevator pitch itself.
The standard sales pitch
Everyone with something to sell needs a standard sales pitch. This will cover the same key details as your elevator pitch, plus some additional info to highlight further selling points and remove doubts. It will also likely include an actual offer to sell, unlike elevator pitches, which simply introduce a proposition.
Situations where you’d use your standard sales pitch might include cold calls, emails, social media messages, and short meetings at networking events.
There are lots of different approaches to sales pitch structure and tactics, and we suggest you try a few different options before you settle on a final pitch. Here’s a commonly used structure to get you started:
- Introduce the problem you’re going to solve;
- Talk about how your venture will solve the problem;
- Back up your claims with facts, using a mix of primary and secondary market research (that means a mix of research you’ve done yourself, and research done by others);
- Offer the sale. Link your venture back to the prospective client, and suggest how you could serve them.
The information that goes into these steps is mostly the same as the info from your elevator pitch, including your Who, What, When, Where and Why, your unique selling points, and your solutions to any perceived obstacles to the venture.
A key factor in a sales pitch that’s not so important in an elevator pitch is personalisation. In order to convince someone to buy or invest, it usually helps to articulate a relationship between the pitch and their business, profession or something else which applies to that person specifically. For instance, you might mention a product or service their business sells, and how your product can improve it.
Some types of sales pitch, such as cold calls, make it possible to ask the lead questions about their requirements. This is a great method for uncovering links between what the lead needs and what you’re trying to sell to them.
The formal sales presentation
The most in-depth form of sales pitch is a sales presentation.
In a sales presentation, a verbal pitch is delivered together with visual aids such as videos and slideshows, usually in a meeting room context.
Sales presentations are most often used to clinch important sales such as high-volume orders and long-term contracts. They introduce what you’re offering (in much the same way as an elevator pitch), then run through some fine detail, and end with a compelling conclusion that personally links the offering to the lead.
This order of steps is important. As sales strategist Michael Humblet explains in the video below, audience attention tends to be highest at the start and end of a presentation, with a dip in the middle. This means we need to put the most important points – the elevator pitch, and the tie-in with the lead’s business – at the start and end of the presentation respectively.
In a sales presentation, personalisation is key – even more so than it is in an ordinary sales pitch. You should have done research on the lead, which can be linked to your offering. For instance, if you were selling a social media martech software, you might audit the lead’s social media channels, and use your findings to suggest how your product could improve their performance metrics.
Sales presentations require a slightly more performative delivery than other types of sales pitch. You’ll likely be speaking to a group of people in a room, so you’ll need to project your voice and keep a handle on your body language. Physical demonstrations of products and services are a particularly good way to engage potential customers – especially if the people you’re pitching to can get involved by testing the product themselves.
Go land some sales!
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, and you could be forgiven for feeling a bit overwhelmed with information.
So, let’s clear things up by ending with a quick summary of how you can put all that sales theory into action:
- Write your elevator pitch. Cover the Who, What, When, Where and Why of your venture, and emphasise your USPs.
- Create a standard sales pitch. Extend your elevator pitch with added detail, and be sure to include a sale request that can be personalised to different leads and used in different contexts. You’ll need to tweak the pitch based on the method of delivery, e.g. cold call, email.
- Extend your pitch into a sales presentation. Bring your message to life with video, slideshows and physical demonstrations.
Completing these three steps will give you a strong basis to start selling effectively.
We hope this article helps you land some sales! Are you a sales expert with some insights to share on the subject of sales pitches? Upload a smartphone video to tell us what you’re all about, via LAMA App.