Landing clients is a tricky process that requires a lot of tactful communication, finesse, strategy, and — in many cases — luck. Getting to the home stretch is a struggle in itself, so if you manage to get to the finish line with a potential client, you'd better know how to cross it.

The process of "crossing the finish line" in this context is most commonly known as a client pitch. Here, we'll cover what that term means, learn a bit more about pitching clients, and get some insight on how to give an effective client pitch presentation.

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The term "client pitch" is fairly fluid. It could be on the more technical side — like one conducted by a business development professional with the assistance of solutions architects. Or, it might be a representative from an agency trying to explain their firm's services' value to a potential client.

That said, every client pitch is at least partially characterized by a few key elements. For one, client pitches tend to be more prospect-specific than other pitches. An elevator pitch can be delivered to anyone at any time, and a startup pitch deck is often sent out to several firms at once. A client pitch is tailored specifically for one organization.

Another aspect that sets client pitches apart has to do with their typical endgame. Client pitches are less about pushing a one-time fix and more about trying to establish a long-term relationship. After all, you're trying to turn your audience into clients — not just buyers.

Let's take a look at some strategies you can leverage for pitching clients effectively.

1. Lock in on the right clientele.

As I mentioned, a client pitch isn't your typical elevator pitch, and it probably won't rest on the kind of wide-reaching pitch deck a startup might send to several venture capital firms at once. It's more specialized than that. That's why you need to take the time to identify the right clients for your product or service.

Know the spaces your company appeals to through and through. Understand what size companies stand to gain the most from doing business with you. Have a feel for the budget an organization needs to have to readily afford your offering.

If you don't cover those bases — among several others — you might wind up pitching to clients who can't or won't be receptive to what you have to say. The most compelling client pitch in the world won't do much for you if you don't know your target audience.

2. Conduct thorough research.

Let's say you've zeroed in on an ideal potential client, and representatives from that company have agreed to hear what you have to say. Now, you have to piece together a relevant, resonant pitch for them — getting there starts with a deep dive into their business, its needs, and the other solutions it might be considering.

Conduct market research to see where the organization stands within its competitive landscape. Who is it competing with? Who is it targeting? How has it been performing both historically and as of late?

Also, look into where it stands as far as solutions like yours go. Is it leveraging a product or service like yours? If so, how is it faring with that solution? How much is it paying for that offering? What are the unique features and benefits that come with that particular option?

Try to identify the unique differentiators on both sides of the pitch. What makes your potential clients different? What makes you different? And how do those special considerations align — making yours the best possible solution for their business?

3. Conduct a competitive analysis.

This point is sort of an extension of the previous one. If you want to get the full picture of your potential client's interest and what you can do for them, you need to know whether their organization is leveraging a similar solution to yours and what might set you apart from that competition.

Identify the areas where you match your competition's capabilities. Find out where you're outperforming them, and speak to the benefits your competitive advantage can offer. Be able to articulate why your solution specifically suits your potential client's pain points better than anyone else.

This isn't a matter of finding everything wrong with your competitors and spending your whole pitch talking them down — that reads as petty and impersonal. Just know where you stand within your space, and show that your place in your competitive landscape lines up with your potential client's interests.

4. Try to connect with key stakeholders before the pitch and feel them out.

Try to secure an opportunity to talk to the key stakeholders at the prospect's firm early on so you can better understand the company and its team's hopes for the future. When you gain access, ask the managers some simple questions to get them talking.

In most cases, you'll be addressing smart, opinionated people who want to see their ideas covered in the pitch. Like so many other key aspects of a successful client pitch, this step lends itself to specificity — it gives you another degree of personalization.

Some useful questions are:

  • If everything works out well, where will your company be in five years?
  • If all goes well, what will your customers think of your company?
  • If all goes well, what will your employees think of your company?
  • In your opinion, what are the biggest obstacles that stand between your company and that bright future?
  • What are your biggest worries?

If, for example, management is concerned about a particular competitor, you can use that in your presentation — highlighting how your proposed solution will give them a leg up on that industry peer.

5. Develop a specialized solution, but still sell compatibility.

Once you've accrued the necessary insight, it's time for you to put together a specialized solution that suits the prospect's specific needs. Have a detailed solution on hand, but don't spend the whole time rattling off all the specs.

A client pitch is about establishing a lasting partnership with a prospect. Proving that you have the technical clout to solve their issues is important, but you also need to establish that your firm and their organization are in the right place to have a productive relationship.

It’s hard for your prospects to judge the relative quality of professional services or new products, but it’s easy for your prospects to pick the people they would like to work with — so make sure you stay on top of the image you project.

Prospects will learn more about you by how you act throughout the entire pitch process than the words you actually say during the pitch. How quickly you respond to requests, whether you're timely, how your team treats one another, and even how you answer the phone all communicate who you are more persuasively than anything else.

6. Come prepared.

This one might go without saying, but it still bears mentioning — you need to know your pitch inside and out before you deliver it. That means brushing up on the research you conducted, knowing exactly who you'll be talking to, familiarizing yourself with the solution you're posing, and presenting yourself professionally.

You have to be ready to stay composed during your presentation and tactfully field any questions your potential clients might have. If you come off as flustered or ignorant, they might see you as being uninterested, unprofessional, or untrustworthy. If you can act like someone you would want to do business with, they'll be more inclined to start a productive arrangement with you.

7. Offer next steps, and follow up.

Always make sure your pitch leads somewhere. That means giving some concrete next steps your potential client can take if they're interested in doing business with you — as well as offering any additional information that they might ask for when giving feedback.

Once you've wrapped everything up, make sure you touch base with your potential client regularly. You don't have to inundate them with email after email or call after call — demanding they tell you whether they're interested in doing business. Just reach out every now and then to keep you and your firm top-of-mind until they have a solid answer for you.

That outreach could be supplying them with additional, helpful materials that you might not have gotten to cover during your pitch — or it could be touching base to start a quick conversation.

One way or another, make sure you're demonstrating interest without being invasive. Plenty of deals are lost because people are too reluctant to follow up with potential clients — don't fall into that trap.

For many firms, agencies, and businesses, clients are the lifeblood of their operations — so if your organization's success rests on your ability to develop long-term relationships with clients, you need to know how to set those partnerships in motion.

Pitching clients is a process that can be every bit as frustrating as it is necessary — but if you can lock in on potential clients' needs, develop specialized solutions, convey compatibility, and cast yourself as a trustworthy resource who will vie for their interests, you can deliver client pitches that consistently deliver results.

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Originally published Feb 28, 2022 7:00:00 AM, updated February 28 2022

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Sales Strategy