The Real Art to the Sales Pitch

Posted on May 16, 2013.

If I had a dime for every boring power point presentation I’ve had to sit through I’d have retired a long time ago.  Bankers are in love with “decks” and love to show their prospects and customers how special they are through the use of the written word (or charts and graphs).

A recent Inc. article on the 3 reasons presentations fail really hit the mark on what not to do, but I don’t think they went far enough. Sure you want to point out benefits, not features; you want to make it about the customer; and you want to point out why you’re unique.  But it doesn’t really offer anything different.  Especially in certain industries, “benefits” are almost always the same. And “how you’re different” is a figment of your imagination.  The reality is that in most industries, you really are all selling the same thing or close to the same thing. So how can you change up your presentation and actually win business?  It starts before you even put a title on page 1` of your deck.

·      Build your relationship first.  Customers and prospects are no different from you.  You buy from brands or people you trust and like.  In a B2B business, it’s no different.  Take the time to get to know the company, the people, and the culture before you even start to sell.  Develop a relationship with the key decision makers by moving outside the office. Whether it’s golf, sports, theater or concerts, you need to get to know each other on a personal level. People buy from people they know and like.

·      Know who the decision maker really is.  I can honestly say that almost every time we lost a major pitch it was because we failed to identify the real decision maker.  Titles can often misrepresent whose really in charge and some people love to tell you they’re in charge when they’re not.  Having your team build relationships at different levels of the company will help you vet who’s really going to make the decision.

·      Keep it simple. Before building your deck, you might want to find out what’s really important to the customer. Do they want to see a 30-page power point, or would they rather see a demonstration. Do they want to see what their peer group is buying or what you want to sell?  Doing your homework upfront will save you countless hours preparing something that will quickly end up in the trash.

If you’re in sales of any kind then you are pitching your ideas, your products, or your services.  But what’s most important to your prospect or customer is you.