Your sales pitch can make or break the deal, so it's a good idea to have that nailed down before meeting with your customer. It's your opening line, your verbal business card, and the first thing your customer will hear when you call or meet with them.
I've been in sales for almost 16 years and have heard my fair share of both great and less-than-stellar pitches.
For this post, I'd like to discuss the anatomy of a good sales pitch and share examples of the best sales pitches I've ever heard.
What is a sales pitch?
A sales pitch is a condensed sales presentation where a salesperson explains the nature and benefits of their business, ideally in less than one or two minutes. Sales pitches are often referred to as ‘elevator pitches’ because they should be able to be delivered within the time constraints of a single elevator ride.
Salespeople are past the point of giving prospects hour-long presentations to sell products or services. Nobody has that kind of time and, to be honest, if you need an hour to relay your value proposition, you're doing it wrong.
They're called elevator pitches for a reason. Ideally, if you're giving me one, I should be able to understand what you have to offer in the time it takes to get from the lobby to my floor.
A good salesperson should be able to get their message across compellingly and concisely. If you can nail your sales pitch, odds are you'll have more time to talk down the line.
How to Make a Sales Pitch
- Make it short.
- Make it clear.
- Explain who your customers are.
- Explain the problem they're facing.
- Explain how your product can solve it
- Describe what success will look like as a result of using your product.
1. Make it short.
A sales pitch isn't a conventional presentation. You're not going to have powerpoint slides. You're not going to have complimentary pastries on a boardroom table. And, most of all, you're not going have your audience's time and patience for long — at least not until they're sold on your pitch.
2. Make it clear.
This ties in with the previous point. You don't have the time to go on tangents or talk about anything but the message you're trying to get across. Your pitch has to be lean and to the point. It has to register with your listener immediately. That means speaking with intention and clarity.
3. Explain who your customers are.
Consider the picture you're going to paint in your pitch. Give your listeners perspective on who's buying your product or service. They want to know that you have a lucrative, engaged market in mind. Be specific in identifying who will be interested in your product, and try to convey why your listeners should be interested in them.
4. Explain the problem they're facing.
Cover why your customer base needs you. Your target market is only as valuable as the problems you can to solve for them. Convey a problem they consistently face. If you're pitching a spreadsheet software for accountants with functionality Excel doesn't have, you could discuss how hard it is to bookkeep without your software's unique features.
5. Explain how your product can solve it.
Here's where you start to bring it all home. You've established who you're selling to. You've established why you're selling to them. Now, you have to establish why they'd buy from you. What can you do better than your competition? In the accounting example, you could touch on how your unique data visualization features make busywork more efficient.
6. Describe what success what success with your product will look like.
Show the benefits of your product on a broader scale. In the example we've been using, you can talk about how accountants that use your software have more time to spend with important clients or the flexibility to spend time with their families. Show how your product makes your customers' lives better as a whole.
Ideally, your pitch should be a one-liner summarizing what your company does, how they do it, and for whom. And this is not just a requirement for sales reps. Anyone in your company — from the CEO to sales consultants needs to know your one-line sales pitch by heart.
For my company, InsideSales.com, the one-liner would be: "We help salespeople build and close more pipeline faster using artificial intelligence."
So, how should you start your sales pitch?
The Sales Pitch Framework
This is the one-line version, but if you have time to properly expand and work on a conversation, touch on points of interest. Here's a framework you can use for building your elevator pitch:
- Problem: Start with a statement or question about the problem you solve and share eye-opening statistics. Answer the why.
- Value Statement: Share a very clear, concise statement of value. Be action-oriented and outcome focused. Avoid using jargon. Share benefits.
- How We Do It: Highlight unique differentiators and explain what you do.
- Proof Points: Provide clear reference examples and list recognizable achievements. Share industry validation and awards.
- Customer Stories: Share customer examples and successes. Tell emotional and personalized customer stories. Make it real and tangible.
- Engaging Question: Close the pitch with an open-ended question creating a space to have a conversation.
Many companies use success stories in their pitches to ensure the sale. Name-dropping really works, so be sure to use that to your advantage. And if your product is small or light enough to keep in your pocket, you should always have one on-hand to show your prospect.
I always stress the need for a concise sales pitch. So keep it free of professional jargon, don't get into the weeds and be sure to talk more about your prospect and their problems than yourself.
Nothing's more off-putting than a bragging salesperson talking about themselves, their company, or their services. That's what I call the "me monster." The actor in your story is the customer, not you — period.
Lastly, presentation and distribution are everything. You need to deliver your sales pitch to the right person at the right time with the right tools on hand (like a demo, or free trial, or presentation).
The sale starts with your list of contacts. Define your list and personas, know their correct contact information, get an introduction, and make sure you contact them at a time of day when they're likely to respond. This is where intelligent sales technology comes in.
Sales Pitch Ideas
- Tell a story.
- Include a value proposition.
- Personalize the sales pitch.
- Switch up your pitch.
- Practice your pitch.
- Try not to use metaphors.
- Create a WOW moment.
- Appeal to them emotionally.
- Back it up with facts.
- Tap into their fear of missing out.
- Educate them.
How can you make your sales pitch the best it can be? Here are some sales pitch ideas.
1. Tell a story.
Keep your listeners engaged by telling a brief story. The story could be either about the company or how a customer found success through your product or service.
2. Include a value proposition.
What value will you be providing for this person or their company? While your pitch should be short and sweet, the value proposition is the core of your sales pitch.
3. Personalize the sales pitch.
Who are you talking to? Make sure your sales pitch is relevant to them and piques their interest. You'll be able to customize it so it addresses the items that are most important to the person you're speaking with.
4. Switch up your pitch.
There are a variety of sales pitch types to choose from:
- The One-Word Sales Pitch
- The Question Sales Pitch
- The Rhyming Sales Pitch
- The Subject Line Sales Pitch
- The Twitter Sales Pitch
- The Pixar Sales Pitch
Depending on the potential customer and situation, change up the type of pitch you use.
5. Practice your pitch.
Practice, practice, practice. Once you've created your pitch, practice it so you feel comfortable presenting it in front of prospective clients.
6. Try not to use metaphors.
Odds are your sales pitch isn't happening in an English classroom. The idea of incorporating vivid, clever comparisons might seem effective in theory , but there's a good chance you might confuse your prospect. Remember, you want to keep things clear.
7. Create a WOW moment.
One way to ensure your pitch is memorable is by blowing the listener or recipient's mind. You might do this by stating a fact that is counter-intuitive, demonstrating the product/service's best selling point in a shocking way, telling an outlandish story, or emphasizing its most unique feature.
8. Appeal to them emotionally.
Understanding your customers is central to consistently nailing sales pitches, and when you do, it's good to convey that. One way to do so is to partially revolve your pitch around their life experience and commonalities between you and them.
9. Back it up with facts.
While consumers make decisions more often with emotion, they still need to rationalize the decision to themselves and/or other key stake holders. By providing statistics or case studies that support the emotional appeal, you're providing credibility that will help them feel as though they're making the right decision.
10. Tap into their fear of missing out.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful motivator and can create a great sense of urgency. The last thing you want is for them to be dazzled by your sales pitch but procrastinate long enough for that feeling to fade away. Instead, get them to take action right away.
11. Educate them.
You want to establish yourself as an authority in your space. Some interesting, relevant facts can help grab your customers' attention and add a certain degree of legitimacy and trustworthiness to your pitch.
Great Sales Pitch Examples
I promised I'd give you some examples of great sales pitches, and they've been pretty fun to collect.
"Brightfunnel is a marketing attribution platform designed to help marketers understand the true value of their marketing touches and their impact on the revenue and buyer's journey."
Data actually shows a short pitch is better. Gong.io, for example, demonstrates that talking about your company for more than two minutes kills your sale. Our contest also served as a good experiment. We had almost 7,500 votes on our sales pitch contest, and the top two were the shortest at under 35 seconds. The longer the pitch, the less votes it got.
I can't stress this enough: Help your customer understand what you do, who you do it for, and how in under two minutes.
Your customer is busy and doesn't have more than two minutes to spend with you. A short sales pitch helps you as a salesperson as well, because the faster you can disqualify people who aren't interested in your offer, the faster you can reach someone who is.
"We are a suite of intelligent automation solutions for Salesforce, for everything from data, documents to reporting."
This was the number two on our list and the second most popular of our contest. We had over 2,000 votes for this one. This short pitch outperformed others at Salesforce's annual Dreamforce conference because it simply speaks to the user's needs. In one short sentence, I get the character (Salesforce users), the problem (dealing with too much information and too little insight), the plan (using intelligent automation solutions), and the success (deal with all of this through automation).
"I realized that it wasn’t just me, that this was a systemic problem with people being discriminated against based on race, sexual orientation, and more. We decided to take action and build a new platform where people of all backgrounds can travel and stay with respect, dignity, and love… and Innclusive.com was born."
Here's a great example of a text-based sales pitch. On their Our Story page, the founder and CEO of Innclusive tells his personal story of finding out about discrimination in the travel and booking industry. This story outlines a problem and then positions the organization as a solution to that problem.
Humans are wired for story, and that's what makes this pitch so effective.
"We are a B2B video platform for businesses. We change the way organizations communicate their video content through on-boarding, training, and knowledge sharing as well as externally through sales, marketing and customer support. We can show the ROI of your video marketing initiatives by tracking who watches your videos, and for how long, so that you can justify the spend on those videos."
Vidyard is a company that's been making waves — mainly because salespeople are finding video an effective prospecting tool. They found great sales pitches are personalized, and what better way to do that than to add a human face to your message?
Their sales pitch rocks not only because they identify their prospect clearly from the first sentence (B2B companies that use video platforms for sales, marketing, or enablement), but they also focus on the competitive advantage they have from the get-go. They don't just sell this service, they "change the way you communicate," — and that makes a difference.
The Gong.io data also showed leaving the discussion about competition too late in the conversation usually kills your sale. Vidyard knows this, which is why they make sure to include it in their pitch.
"In 2012, one single belief brought LISNR’s founders together: ultrasonic audio is better. These individuals understood the growing need for a device- and platform-independent solution for sending short communication back and forth at the software level. They believed that companies shouldn’t have to spend on costly hardware or processes to drive more friction-less and connected experiences."
Found on the LISNR website, this sales pitch uses their origin story to explain both how their organization came to be and what they aim to accomplish. This gives more context to their product, making purchasing with them more than just a transaction but also a contribution to a greater mission and belief system.
"We automate and streamline the commission process for sales organizations. For a lot of companies, that means getting you off an Excel spreadsheet or a home-grown cumbersome system. The Xactly advantage is that we've been in the cloud since 2005. We have been able to anonymize all of our customer's data to allow you to leverage different data points when making your decision."
The Xactly sales pitch focuses on the problem their customer has — an important part of a successful pitch. I discussed the "me monster" above, and you should be wary of it when creating a pitch. Xactly does this well. The trick is to address your customer's problems and concerns and highlight how your product or service solves these problems. In the case of Xactly, it's about getting people off cumbersome legacy systems and Excel spreadsheets.
"G2Crowd is the user voice platform for people to accurately say what they think about software and not be told by analysts or people who don't use it, or get a reference from the best customer. They actually hear it directly from the user and engage with people who actually use the product."
This is an interesting way to build your pitch: Make a note of what really annoys your customer and pitch how your service can resolve this grievance. It's another way of reframing the customer need, and it works because it's a powerful way to describe the situation.
When they discuss how you're being told by analysts what to do, or people who haven't used a product, they highlight a clear disconnect in the market between what you need and what you get. The company allows verified users of products to write reviews and becomes an essential resource for their users.
Why A Short Sales Pitch is A Good Pitch
An important note to make about these sales pitches is that they are all amazingly optimized for a short conversation — and the sales reps were extremely efficient with their time.
All the top sales pitches at Salesforce's annual Dreamforce conference were under 35 seconds, while the top two winners (sales representatives from Brightfunnels and Conga) were able to explain what their company does in 19 and 9 seconds respectively.
I can't stress enough how much brevity matters for a sales pitch. Talking too much, using filler words, and talking about your company for more than two minutes can easily kill a conversation. So, keep your sales pitch short, clean, and simple! Your customers will thank you.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in June 7, 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Aug 12, 2020 1:00:00 PM, updated August 12 2020