From a ten pound commission to million pound contracts, every business transaction begins with a pitch. Mastering the ‘art of the pitch’, therefore, is a crucial ingredient for business success. Creating great pitches is surprisingly easy as long as you follow a few, simple rules, such as:
Pitching a client is a lot like interviewing a celebrity – the more research you do, the better responses you’ll get. Clients like to feel that you’ve put some effort into the pitch. The easiest way to do this is to research their company thoroughly, from its recent financial performance and primary products to top management and latest blog posts. The more you research, the more personalized your pitch can be.
Understand the Client’s Problems
Every pitch has a single purpose: to get the client’s business. But you can’t win over a client if you don’t even know what his/her problems are. In the course of your research, pay special attention to what you believe to be the client’s primary pain points. This requires thorough research of the client’s recent history and shortcomings, as well as a working knowledge of the prominent problems in the client’s industry.
The fastest way to lose your client’s interest is to start with idle chit-chat. To counter this, structure your pitch to include your strongest point right up front. This could be a startling statistic, a gripping industry fact, or something related to their business. Your primary aim should be to grab the client’s interest and keep him/her glued to the seat until you finish the presentation.
Focus on Benefits, not Features
This is straight out of sales 101: emphasise benefits instead of features when pitching. Your clients don’t want to hear about all the amazing things you or your product can do. They only care about how your product can help them.
While we’re on the subject of benefits vs. features, it’s also a good practice to focus on the bottom line – i.e. how your product/service can help them make more money. Telling clients that your product can help them sell more is great; showing them that you can help them make £100,000 more each year is better.
Keep it Simple
A pitch is not a place to showcase your literary skills. If a client has to take out dictionary to understand your pitch, you’ve probably lost him already. Keep your pitch simple and straightforward. You can always bring out the literary fireworks later on in your relationship!
Keep it Short
On the same lines, it’s also important to keep your pitch short and to the point. Make it easy for them to scan through the pitch in a minute and create a quick response.
You might have the greatest pitch and the finest product in the world, but you’ll still lose clients if your pitch closes with a generic statement like “get back to us when interested”. You need a specific call-to-action to get actual responses and sales from your pitch. This can be something as simple as including a time frame for a response (“get back to us by Monday and we can take it from there”), or an offer (“we’ll send you a more detailed proposal right away”). This forces the client to respond, instead of filing your email away in that ‘some day’ folder.
Talk About Yourself, But Only Briefly
Before you close, include a line or two about yourself and your company. If you’ve worked with some big name clients in the past, now would be a good time to include it. Make sure that you keep it short and precise; no client wants to read a pitch that runs on and on about how great your company is.
Show Them Your Expertise
Last, but not the least, include at least a few samples of your best work. Your work samples showcase your skills and will often be the deciding factor in winning any contract.
Sam who works at one of the most prestigious hotels in Reading helps businesses from across the country develop the right environment for their pitch meetings.