Anatomy of a Perfect Pitch

Sales pitches vary widely because of the diversity of the products being sold, and the context in which the pitch is presented. Is the customer a previous buyer? Does he know about your product? Is this a new product being introduced to a known customer? Or is this an existing product being presented to a new prospect?

All these variations should be factored in into a sales presentation. And knowing your buyer or prospect and his problem is key to how you build your pitch.

However some eternal truths apply to all good sales presentations, and that’s what we will talk about. Let’s break our presentation down to essential components, and see how these function, and the order in which they might appear.

1. Short Introduction to tell them the purpose of the pitch, and the time you will take.

“Hello, I am Mike from Ace Acme Company, and I’d like to tell you about our new product Cycal, which is a product lifecycle management solution that addresses some key problems in our industry. I’ll need eight minutes of your time to take you through this presentation”.

This serves three important functions.

1. It sets the context and tells them what it’s all about

2. It states that there is a problem to which you have a solution

3. It indicates what time the presentation is likely to take

Ideally, for the introduction you simply talk to the audience. It creates a personal connect, and helps to build a narrative. A narrative goes beyond mere facts and data. People want to hear stories, more than data.

End by telling them to continue to the next section, and what they can expect to see in that section.

“Next we shall talk about some of the biggest problems plaguing the industry, causing losses to the tune of billions every year.”

2. Define a problem.

You should identify a pain-point. This is what your product will ultimately address. But in this section, just talk about the problem, and how it affects your prospect, and others as well.

Provide very briefly some numbers that amplify the scale of the problem. Talk about losses, or lost revenue, productivity, and so on. Explain again why it is one of the biggest issues facing your audience today. Establish why there is a need for a product that solves this problem.

This section of the presentation can use a video. But you can also use infographics, or a slide-show which enumerates the issues, pain-points, losses, and the need for solution. If you use infographics, make sure that the voice does not repeat the same information, but tells the story instead.

To connect to the next section, you can have a single, brief slide to tell them that the next section will provide the solution.

3. Address the pain point- Provide a solution to the problem.

In this section you should provide the solution- the generic answer to the problem.

“What if we had a tool that could send notices to all team members every time a new module is added to your core product?”

This section should list out core features and functionality that would solve the problem. This can be an extensive list of features. This is a blue-print- a road map. You aren’t really saying that your product has these features. Some of these features can in fact be ones that your product does not have (yet).

The reason why you would want to include such “unavailable” solution points is to convey to the customer that you have seriously considered the pain-points and the possible solutions- even if you don’t have all the answers. In the next section, when you talk about your product, an honest “we don’t have that solution now” in fact establishes greater credibility.

This section can be delivered as images or slideshows, perhaps infographics. Since it a map, it can be in any schematic format that is visual.

4. Say how your product solves the problem.

Say how your product has the functionality that you spoke about earlier. This section should cover the main features of your product, but offered as benefits to the user rather than simply “features”. Say how your product is unique in solving the problems. Introduce your value proposition- how the product saves money, time. List out all USPs.

You can also mention that some of the ideal solutions are not present in your product currently, but that they are on the radar, or that they are impossible or contradictory. The idea is to be honest enough to admit that while all details have been considered, some were difficult to solve.

5. Point them to supporting documents such as whitepapers, research papers, pricing, comparison with competitors’ products.

Offer social and technical proof points. But these should not be a part of the main narrative. Except for crucial data points, all supporting evidence should be provided as an optional. Deviating from the main narrative into detailed data not only takes time, but often has a negative effect because the audience can quickly get bored with data overload.

If the audience wants to learn more, or seeks proof, the data is present to whet their appetite.

This is a brief note with a pointer to the location where such data is stored. It should have a list of the assets.

6. Add customer testimonials to build credibility

Customer Testimonials set context and establish credibility. When customers speak on your behalf, it not only establishes trust, but also sets the context in which a real user found your product or service helpful. It shows a real-world applicability. Testimonials also complete the audience experience by rounding off with a “customer is king” messaging. Customer Testimonials grab attention, establish brand positioning and create the right niche in the world of customer centric personalized communication.

Customer testimonials are best delivered as video. These can be “talking heads”- that is, your customers simply talking to the audience about their experience. These are best in creating one-to-one personal connects and building trust. Try to keep these short and succint. If necessary, use a short scripted delivery from your client.

If you cannot produce a video, you can use a voice-only audio file to deliver the same message.

7. Thank you message with request for information.

Thank the audience for their time, and thank them on behalf of your entire team. Request for a feedback, and say that it would help you to understand their requirements better. Leave contact details and invite the prospect to contact you for any queries.

8. Probe for closing

This should be a survey form that tries to understand their business priorities, and aligned marketing priorities. It should be able to slot the prospect as hot/warm/cold, besides understanding whether your product meets their key requirements. It’s a mini digital audit to guage when the prospect is likely to convert.

What is your biggest challenge in the area of team collaboration?

Are you considering a solution like this?

When would you be likely to buy such a solution?

What is your yearly spend on this type of solution?

When would you like to start?

In what specific areas can we assist?

Keep the survey brief, so that it’s easy for the audience. Most importantly, you should inform the audience of the number of questions at the start.

“We would like to ask you six questions that would help us to understand your requirements better, and provide you with a customised solution.”

A presentation that covers these points and sticks to the promised duration is likely to have great impact without turning away the audience. Most importantly, your presentation must deliver on the promise of providing a solution to the problem mentioned in the introductory section.

Why we created PitchLink

We created PitchLink as a means to overcome some of the biggest hurdles in B2B selling.

When we looked at the process in a typical B2B sales exercise, we found several unique features as well as obstacles.

B2B selling involves longer selling cycles due to the greater value. Longer follow-ups also implied that extended discussions and finer detailing was required. Typically conversations and feedback required time, and involved several key stakeholders. The customer needed internal discussions and approvals, while the vendor had to provide clarifications and additional data on the product.

Sales cycles also stretched out because often discussions entailed face-to-face meetings, but arranging meetings involving several decision makers at the same time, have become difficult in today’s time-starved world. So Sales engagements stretch out over weeks. Often, even the first face-to-face meeting is difficult to set up, and when it does happen, the customer is rushed for time. So the pitch, which was planned for say 15 minutes, turns out to be a 3 minute rushed affair.

The documents and sales collaterals involved in high-value complex sales are numerous and voluminous. The exchange of such material through electronic means is difficult, to say the least, and keeping them organized and in the right flow is well nigh impossible. Mails bounce due to large file sizes, sharing on services such as Google docs require permissions, and often it is not clear if the document has been opened by the recipient.

Sales pitches are also dependent on the skill of the presenter. The quality of communication varies vastly, and there is no way to ensure that a standardized message was being conveyed, beyond the printed documentation accompanying the pitch. And a pitch is only as good as the salesman.

When we looked around for a solution to address these critical problems, we found none. While there were CRMs aimed at tracking customers, there were no mechanisms which specifically targeted the process of communication itself.

That is when we decided to develop a tool inhouse, to solve such obstacles in sales communication. The result was PitchLink.

PitchLink is a platform meant for asynchronous sales communication over the internet. It is built to involve several stakeholders, and engage everyone in meaningful discussion, so that sales cycles can be shortened through early closures. It aims to organize all pertinent sales assets, and construct clear, standardized, selling propositions.

PitchLink allows the seller to create a complete narrative, using all sales collaterals. A standard pitch can then be sent out to prospects as a link. This mode of communication allows the recipient to view the pitch at convenience, where all data and large files are organized and presented in one coherent story. Without having to download anything.

The constructed sales pitch can use several elements, such as audio, video, documents and pdfs. In fact it can use any digital file format- even Powerpoint presentations. All technical specifications and data can also be presented as a part of the story, or as supporting information.

Discussions between the stakeholders can happen within the same interface, and all feedback can be followed, and acted upon.

Once a seller sends out a pitch, all engagement can be tracked. Built-in analytics let’s you see exactly who have viewed each element. This can not only give a clear view of stakeholders’ involvement, but also help to understand problem-areas which can be fine-tuned. Most importantly, it also gives an indication of who are likely to qualify as leads, or as hot, warm and cold prospects.

We feel PitchLink is an indispensable tool that surmounts most of the critical bottlenecks in B2B sales communication.