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February 8, 2016 // 6:30 AM

The Art of the Sales Pitch: How to Sell Without Being Too Salesy

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Show of digital hands: How many of you have endured a verbal sales pitch?

We’ve all experienced a formal sales presentation where the rep clicks through every nook and cranny of their product, spending 95% of the time on information we don’t care about.

But sales pitches can rear their heads in other ways. For example, what happens when you ask a new acquaintance, “What does your company do?” If they recite every activity their business has been involved in over the past 14 years, they’ve just delivered a verbal sales pitch.

Verbal sales pitches are, to put it bluntly, the pits. And yet all salespeople have given them.

Why do we give these unnecessary pitches? When a prospect inquires, “What does your product do?” it’s easy to fall into the trap of long-winded explanations because we want to be thorough. We don’t take time to ask them what they may need from our product. Instead, we just dive right into a sea of facts, figures, statistical data, and technical jargon. And while we lovingly dote on our company as we talk about it, our prospects are completely checked out.

We should limit ourselves to giving pitches only when we're asked for it, and to make them highly relevant. It’s important to explain your company and make sure what you have to offer will fit your prospects’ needs. So how can we make them a better for reps and buyers?

1) Start with open and honest communication.

A pitch should never be your first conversation with a prospect. Make sure you understand their specific needs pre-pitch so you’re not wasting their time. Then, tailor your explanation to only discuss how your product specifically benefits them. They don’t need to hear any excess.

2) Stay calm.

Nerves can get the best of us, but you have to be cool as a cucumber during a pitch. If you’re anxious or shaky, you’re only going to make your potential client uncomfortable. What should you do? Well, whatever you do, do NOT picture them in their underwear. Instead, make sure you’re well-practiced in what you’re going to say and know your product backwards and forwards. Which leads us to this point …

3) Know what you’re going to say.

This isn’t improv at The Second City. Don’t wing it. Review key points of your presentation leading up to your meeting. Knowing exactly what you’re going to say and having the key points of your pitch memorized will make you more confident, so your words will flow out organically. Be careful though! You don’t want to sound recite a script or sound too rehearsed. You’ll come off sounding fake.

4) Make it a conversation, not a lecture.

It goes without saying that your prospect will be more responsive if you encourage a back-and-forth conversation. To keep them interested, you only need to do two simple things:

  1. Ask them questions throughout.
  2. Be genuinely interested in the answers they give.

This will keep them engaged and you will learn a lot about their needs, while deepening your understanding of how your product will work for their company. Whatever you do, don’t give your prospects a rehearsed monologue. It will come off as phony and they’ll see right through it. 

5) Be honest.

During a sales pitch, you should tell your prospect exactly how your product will help solve their business pain, but you don’t need to review every bell and whistle. It’s okay to say, “There’s more to the product than what we’ve just discussed, but it sounds like you don’t need it!” Remember, you don’t want to be phony -- it’s better to stick to your product’s true value and leave it at that than to try and shoehorn every feature into an explanation of how it could tangentially help your prospect. You’ll stand out against your competition and come off as genuine.

6) Keep it brief.

Seriously, folks.

Get in and get out. Tell your prospects what they need to know and ask questions, but don’t take up more of their time than you need. Like you, they’re busy people. Your brevity will be appreciated.

7) End on a high note.

It’s always a good idea to circle back and summarize the key points you made in your presentation. But in the spirit of brevity, wrap it up quickly. Leave your prospects with your product’s strongest value proposition for their particular need. Then, end with a one-liner that reminds them why they should choose you and what you’re selling.

8) Keep in touch.

I’m not saying you should obsess over your prospect. Don’t be that eager beaver after the first date. At the end of your meeting, make sure they’re aware of your availability. Be genuine and explain that you’re free to answer any question they may have in the days following.

How do you pitch without coming off as too salesy? Let us know in the comments below.

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Topics: Sales Presentations

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