Step-by-Step Guide to Structuring (and Restructuring) a Sales Pitch

Jul 2, 2020

Most successful sales reps understand that there is no such thing as a “natural-born seller.”

Sales is a craft, and like most crafts, it takes time and practice to master. The right sales pitch is not born in the moment, but rather carefully researched and crafted before a conversation ever takes place.

However, many salespeople have no idea what makes a solid pitch or even how to start a sales pitch. Also, society continues to change and adjust rapidly, and customer needs are not what they were even a few short months ago. Even veteran sales reps are struggling to recreate their sales pitch to connect with their prospects.

The good news is that the underlying principles of a great outside sales pitch are always the same, no matter the economic or social climate. With the right insights, you can create sales pitches that fit every client, situation, and environment.

Read on to find out more about how to write a sales pitch that will connect with your client and win sales.

Illustration of business woman and businessman discussing with text reading "Guide to structuring a sales pitch"

What is a Sales Pitch?

The official definition of a sales pitch is an attempt to convince your audience to buy your product or services or to believe in what you are offering. In reality, a sales pitch is anytime you tell anyone about your brand or product.

While that may be during a demo or a sales call, it also refers to most of the interactions that sales reps encounter, such as meeting someone at a mixer or passing out cards during a trade show.

The term “pitch” can often evoke the wrong image of a sales rep “lobbing” information at a prospect and hoping that something sticks. In reality, it’s a carefully crafted proposition that defines what your brand and product have to meet your prospects’ needs.

Types of Sales Pitches

A sales pitch can help you make the most of your opportunities and craft the right response that showcases what you have to sell. That is why sales pitches can come in different forms, including:

One-word pitch

If you could sum up your brand in one word, what would it be? A one-word pitch helps to catch your prospects’ attention and sticks with them even after you leave. For example, Mastercard’s word is “Priceless,” and President Obama’s was “Hope” for the 2008 election.

Elevator pitch

If you found yourself stuck in the elevator with the CEO of your dream client, what would you say? The elevator pitch is a carefully tailored sales pitch where every word counts and can be completed in about 30 seconds. It gives prospects a high-level overview of your brand or services.

Phone call pitch

A cold call can be a great way to connect with leads, but only if you approach the conversation wisely. A phone call pitch allows you to plan how you will get the prospect’s attention and navigate a potential discussion.

Email pitch

Written pitches are different from spoken ones and cannot typically be used interchangeably. The subject line will mean the difference between starting a conversation and being left unread.

Social media pitch

Social media has become increasingly important in reaching other businesses and decision makers.

Follow up calls

While the initial presentation, email, and phone call are crucial in the customer journey, the follow-up calls are typically where the deal is actually made. In fact, various research shows that 80% of sales happen after an average of 5 follow-up calls. Persistence is on your side as a sales rep. Have a pitch prepared when you plan to follow-up with a prospect.

Sales presentation

When it comes time to sit down with a customer, you need to pull out all of the stops to sell. By the time you’re at the point of a sales presentation, you’ve likely talked to them and know their personality and challenges. It should be personalized for your prospect, then. However, it can still follow a basic structure so that you’re not forced to start from scratch each time.

Understanding which pitch is appropriate and preparing accordingly can help ensure that conversations with your prospect are productive and flow smoothly.

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Guide for Crafting a Sales Pitch

While a general sales pitch template can be helpful for knowing where to get started, a unique pitch is crucial for landing the most sales. The following steps will help you define and refine your sales pitch to capture your brand’s selling points.

Step One: Do Your Research

The goals, demands, and challenges of your prospects should shape how you pitch to them and what issues or solutions you discuss. Most customers have steep expectations that you know their problems intimately and have concrete answers.

Don’t assume that you already know what they are. Businesses are continuously evolving, and their issues will continually change. Look with fresh eyes each time you have the chance to pitch to a potential client.

More than a sales rep, most potential customers look for a trusted advisor. Do your homework beforehand to provide helpful insights and concrete solutions. It also ensures that your pitch focuses on their core concerns and will be more likely to capture their attention and sell.

Step Two: Focus on a Central Idea

Once you have completed your research and understand what customers want, come up with a central idea for your pitch. If you try to hit too many points at once, your prospect will likely become confused and distracted.

Instead, focus on a central idea. What is the main benefit that you bring your customer? Take a pitch for Map My Customers, for example.

The Problem: As customer demands change and sales become more competitive, time on the road can seriously hamper a field sales rep. Sales teams need a way to maximize their productivity to spend less time wasted on the road and more time selling.

Our Solution: Our route planning route helps sales reps save time, fill gaps in their days to set more appointments, and spend more time selling.

By understanding the core issue that your customers face, you can focus on one central idea. Do we at Map My Customers have more features and more solutions? Yes, and for prospects with other more pressing issues, we could concentrate on those. However, trying to hit too many ideas will only distract from the ultimate value we bring to that prospect.

Step Three: Create a Story

Storytelling is an ancient and uniquely human activity. Stories connect us emotionally, hold our interest, and effectively express vital points. It’s no wonder, then, that top salespeople are almost always great storytellers.

Stories are a relatable and effective way to form a sales pitch. Research shows that the most successful presentations are 65% stories and 25% figures. While it may feel like numbers and statistics are the best way to present your information, it may quickly cause your prospect to lose interest and forget you almost as soon as you walk out the door. Instead, consider the Pixar formula for structuring your sales pitch.

Pixar is perhaps one of the most famous storytelling companies of all time. Nearly every movie the company has made is an instant classic. Part of Pixar’s success is its formula for storytelling that it follows in every film. Former story Emma Coats revealed their hit-making method:

  • Once upon a time…”
  • “Every day,”
  • “One day,”
  • “Because of that,”
  • “Because of that,”
  • “Until finally,”

While you may not be creating fiction, your pitch can be phrased using this formula to create an exciting pitch that is easy to follow. An example of what this might look like would be:

  • Once upon a time, businesses struggled to find fast ways to communicate with each other.
  • Every day they took too much time in meetings instead of working on projects.
  • One day they found a platform that allowed everyone to communicate with each other, share files, and create group chats for collaboration.
  • Because of that, there was more collaboration between team members.
  • Because of that, the number of time-consuming meetings went down.
  • Until finally, projects were completed faster and better than ever.

When it comes to pitches, how you present your information is just as important as what information you share. Your sales pitch should demonstrate how you can change the organization to be faster, cost-effective, modern, etc. A story arc can help you do just that. It will help you hold your customer’s attention and connect with them on a deeper, more emotional level.

Step Four: Present Your Ultimate Value Proposition

Once you have demonstrated that you understand your customer’s challenges and goals, concentrate the rest of your pitch on your solution. Don’t make the mistake of presenting too many solutions, which will only confuse your message. Instead, concentrate on your ultimate value proposition.

An ultimate value proposition summarizes exactly what your product or service has to offer: better communication, faster invoicing, excellent customer service, etc. Many sales reps confuse their value proposition from their selling proposition. However, they are two distinct concepts:

·      A selling proposition explains what sets you apart from the competition and why you are a better solution.

·      A value proposition, on the other hand, answers the “what’s in it for me?” question on your prospect’s mind.

A value proposition is all about the customer and how you can meet their needs. It outlines what they will get in return for their investment with you. It should be clear and straightforward and focused on their main challenges. The value should also be evident to the customer.

Image of a group of professionals gathered around a whiteboard

Step Five: Ask Questions

To make sure the value proposition is clear to customers, though, it’s vital to ask if they have any questions. Although this is a specific step in your sales pitch, it should also be used to create an ongoing dialog.

Perception is reality is a saying most true in sales. While your research can help you create a pitch most useful for your customer, it’s impossible to know if your message is clear to them without getting their input. Opening up for questions not only helps you answer any objections but also makes clear that they understand precisely what your company has to offer.

Your sales pitch needs to be responsive to your customer. Stop to take time to ask if they have any questions.

Step Six: Call to Action

While it may seem obvious to end a pitch asking for the sale, the call to action is a crucial step that most sales reps miss. In fact, sales reps fail to ask for the sale in 85% of interactions.

The best pitch is one that lays out clear steps for the customer to follow. Whether starting a free trial or buying your product, your pitch needs to stir them into action.

Image of businessman gesturing with his hands

Step Seven: Test and Refine

A sales pitch can look perfect in theory, but if it doesn’t resonate with your client then it is time to make some changes. Testing out your pitch gives you the perfect chance to see how well it lands and resonates with them.

For more experienced sales reps, you should always be gaging how well your sales pitch resonates with your prospects. A sales pitch can work well for some time, but if the needs of your prospects have changed your pitch should change too. If you are not performing as well as you once did it might be time to reassess your sales pitch.

Asking questions during and after your sales pitch is the perfect opportunity to see how well your sales pitch went. Did the customer understand what your product or service has to offer? If the client had too many questions or seemed confused, take some time to clarify your message for the future.

If your prospects understand the pitch, but it does not resonate with them or their needs, then it might be time to rethink your research and ultimate value proposition. Take some time to figure out what their core needs, pain points, and motivations are. The better that you understand their issues, the better you can gear your sales pitch to them.

Your sales pitch is never truly done. It requires consistent testing and refinement to make sure that you resonate with your audience. Take feedback from your prospects to make any necessary changes to your pitch, and use a mobile note-taking tool for field sales like Map My Customers to stay on top of it all.

Tips for a Pitch that Sells

When it comes to crafting a pitch, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use images where possible. Depending on what type of pitch you are using, such as giving a business presentation or emails, images are most effective in maintaining attention. They are also easier to remember than text and stats.
  • Keep things as short as possible. It’s natural to ramble in your excitement, but longer is not better for a sales pitch. Keep their attention by wrapping up quickly.
  • Welcome interruptions. It’s not what you say that matters, but what your prospect is thinking is most important. While practicing and knowing what to say beforehand is crucial, be willing to pivot or change the conversation based on feedback from the client, including non-verbal clues such as a change in posture or facial expression. Acknowledge these changes and ask questions. Invite the prospect to share concerns.
  • Include testimonials and case studies. Social proof is compelling and a way to establish your expertise and usefulness. Keep case studies on and sprinkle it throughout your pitch to help solidify your points.
  • Keep it simple. Use everyday words that everyone understands. Avoid jargon and overly technical terms. Even if your prospect follows them, it will be boring, and you will lose their attention.
  • Focus on the decision maker. Your pitch should be geared at the person responsible for making decisions, which means you will need to tailor it for each position. A CEO, for example, will have different concerns than a department manager.

Create a Pitch that Sells

The sales pitch is one of the most effective weapons in a rep’s arsenal. With the right research and practice, you can create the right pitch tailored for each situation and geared towards your customers’ concerns.