Put your head in the game, you have to be in it to win it. Pitching is an inevitable part of agency life – be that design, digital, PR, or creative agency, you have to spend time and money winning the work.
A well-crafted sale pitch can get your prospect excited about the opportunity you’re offering and encourage them to take the following steps with you.
Pitching a client is not about “selling” in the traditional sense. It is about developing and shaping an opportunity through innovative thought, in response to the client’s needs. Collaboration between business developers and solution architects is foundational. The business developer understands the market and competitive forces, identifies the needs, and facilitates the meeting. On the other hand, the solution architect knows how to translate the need into a tailored solution.
Sales pitches are about crafting a compelling narrative for your potential clients. For a sales team, it can easy to fall into the trap of treating your own pitch as a presentation of facts, figures, and results, expecting to make a compelling argument based on data alone. Be wary and think about what you’re doing, a detailed business plan is the best way to carry on your strategy.
Throughout this guide, you’ll learn to use the power of stories to drive decision-makers to the fullest and attract potential investors to close a deal with you. There will also be coverage of fundamentals on how to rock a great sales pitch and practical ideas on how to deliver a killer presentation to prospective clients.
But first things first, the basics must be covered and the questions that come to mind are: what is a sales pitch?
What is a sales Pitch?
When most people hear the term “sales pitch” they imagine a room crowded with potential customers and a salesperson or team members going through a slideshow in front of them.
But a sales pitch is more versatile than that. It can be a script you go through on a call, a two-minute speech you perfect for networking purposes, or the classic presentation in front of the big fishes that are in charge of the decision-making.
In fact, every time you pick up the phone and tell a lead about your product, or meet someone at a business meeting and give the lowdown about your product or company, that’s a sales pitch.
Most salespeople will go through their sales pitch at least once a week, or even on a daily basis. For sales teams, this is a regularly occurring part of the sales process, so it is wise to have your sales pitch perfected and optimized for every occasion.
The foundation of a perfect pitch
As the old sales saying goes: facts tell, but stories sell. This is especially true when putting together your perfect sales pitch.
Creating a good sales pitch starts with: Let’s dive into how to frame your sales pitch around a narrative that engages your target audience and gets them invested in what your solution has to offer in order to satisfy your customer’s needs.
Preparing your presentation
Take all the time you need to put together your pitch deck. The goal is to create a deck that is easy for you to work off and get investors excited about your business.
It may seem counterintuitive, but a product pitch shouldn’t start with the product, it should start with your client’s biggest pain points. The focus of your solution isn´t product features or service capabilities. It’s all about the critical challenges you solve for your customers.
This is why your pitch must begin with a story that highlights a big enough pain you help customers to alleviate – specifically customers in the same industry and market as your stakeholders.
Many sales reps still lead what they see as a good pitch with the features they love. While it’s great to see they have such a passion and believe in what they’re selling, it’s more important to match with the customer stories in order to nail a successful pitch.
Keeping that in mind, you should have a short that you can speak to within 10 minutes as well as an extended version that includes everything you’d like to give potential investors access to.
Practice using free pitch templates for Powerpoint to get started. A strong opener should focus on a critical change in the prospect’s industry, career, or life that they must pay attention to. They should consider what you’re offering as a new, superior way of doing things. This is how you get your client’s attention and it shows you truly understand them, focusing on their needs rather than yours is what compels them to keep listening. The role of presenting this change is displayed in two ways:
- It must show that the opportunity is too great for the prospect to miss out.
- It should create a sense of urgency by outlining what will happen if they do not take action.
By focusing on change, rather than just the problem alone, you’ll create a sense of urgency and encourage prospects to share their thoughts on how this change will affect them. Immediately, you go from persuasion to collaboration. It’s a consultative selling approach that works to build a meaningful relationship with your prospects.
Practice your Pitch
You need to practice your pitch, there are no shortcuts. Not being able to quickly speak to each element of your business makes every other tip on this list virtually useless.
Too many entrepreneurs think that just by knowing their business they can quickly and succinctly explain their value. And having the best pitch deck with eye-popping visuals will be enough to fall back on. So they go into pitch meetings unprepared.
Instead of being able to say “ I only need 10 minutes of your time” and actually only taking 10 minutes, you’ll soon find yourself rambling 20 minutes in having only made it through slide 5. Take the time to practice, simplifying your message and only keep elements that build up your business. Leave everything else on the cutting room floor.
Outline the problem with a story
Begin your pitch with a compelling story. It should address the problem you’re solving in the marketplace of your client. This will engage your audience right out of the gate. And if you’ve done any testing try to include actual data here.
If you can relate your story to your audience, in this case, the investor, even better. What industries have they invested in before? What pain points do their previously entrepreneurial endeavors have? Doing market research about your investor is key in finding a good sense of what they care about and can tailor you a story about them.
Add quantifiable/measurable facts into the presentation that describe why your firm is the only firm that can deliver the solution you are presenting in the quickest, most cost-effective way possible, surpassing the differentiators offered by the competition. This can be in the form of benefits that you’ve achieved for other clients implementing a similar solution, and how fast you can deliver the solution as compared to the market average.
Share what’s unique about your product and how it will solve the issue you shared in the previous slide.
Keep it short, concise, and easy for the investor to explain to others. Avoid using buzzwords, unless your investors are very familiar with your industry. Again, if you’ve done any testing beforehand, plugin results here give your solution more credibility.
Keep in mind the solution must address the needs that you identified during your research and make sure to cite how the solution does this in your presentation and to address the client’s point of view.
Target your market
Don’t say that everyone in the world is potentially your target market, even if they could one day.
Be realistic about who you’re building your product for and break out your market into TAM (total addressable/available market), SAM (serviceable Available Market), and SOM (service obtainable market). This will not only impress your audience, but it will also help you think more strategically about your rollout plan.
If you can, try and develop a user persona or your ideal customer when speaking about your target market. This can help investors visualize the potential customer base and display that you’ve thought intently about who your business will serve. It’s also much easier to speak to a named individual in a quick pitch, rather than a broad demographic.
Be mindful of Revenue
Investors tend to care about this slide the most. Be very specific about your products and pricing and emphasize again how your market is anxiously awaiting your arrival.
About your success and milestones
Build up your credibility from the start. Take your time, in the beginning, to talk about relevant traction and your history and start tracing a serious business model and a way of operating with your client.
This is the opportunity to blow your own horn. Impress the investors with what you and your team have accomplished to date ( sales, contracts, key hires, product launches, and so on). You’ve likely mentioned bits and pieces of this early on, but this is the point where you create a full snapshot of your business.
But don’t just leave it at what you’ve done, be sure to speak to where you’re going. Show them a roadmap of the next steps, and additional milestones and even mention how funding will help achieve them.
Marketing and sales strategy
Usually one of the most skipped steps of an investor pitch and a full business plan. How will you reach your customers? How much will it cost? How is success gonna be measured?
Your financials should easily allow you to calculate your customer acquisition costs. But you should also mention how you intend to reach customers, which channels you’ll be advertising on, and even present an example of messaging. You’ve done your research, you know your customer, why not show investors what that will look like in action?
Choose your fighters
Investors invest first in persons and then ideas, so be sure to share details about your star team and why they are the right people for the job.
Also, be sure to share what skills you may be missing out on your team. Most startup teams are missing some key talent – be it marketing, management expertise, programmers, sales, operations, financial management, and so on. Let them know that you know that you don’t know everything.
Get your financial projections straight
Show what you’re projecting in revenue over the next three to five years. You must back up your numbers by sharing your assumptions. You’ll see investors taking out their smartphone calculators to make sure your numbers make sense, so give them the information they need to see that your calculations are accurate.
If your financial charts show hockey stick growth be sure to explain what happens to cause those inflection points. Now it can be incredibly easy to spend a ton of your time explaining financials but keep in mind that you need to speak to them quickly. If investors want to hear or know more, add your financials to the extended pitch deck or offer to answer questions after you’ve finished presenting.
About your competitors
Again, this is a very important part of your pitch, and many people omit this section or don’t provide enough detail about why they’re so different from their competitors.
The best way to communicate your value proposition over your competitors is to show this slide in a competitive matrix format where you list your competitors down the left side of the page, you have features/benefits across the top, and place check marks on the boxes for which company offers that service. Ideally, you have checkmarks across the top for every category, and your competitors’ lack in key areas to show your competitive advantage.
Spell out how much money has already been invested in your agency, by whom, ownership percentages, and how much more you need to go to the next level ( be clear about what level that is). Will you need to raise multiple rounds of financing? Is the investment you’re seeking a convertible note, an equity round, or something else?
Remind the audience why your management team is capable of managing their investment for growth. Tell investors how much you need, why you need the money, what it will be used for, and the intended outcome.
Investors will want you to be able to back up your claims. Have a well-thought business plan on hand to share, so investors can read more about the subject. The intention, after all, is that you deliver a powerful pitch, and by the end of it, their hands are out asking for either your executive summary or your complete business plan.
This is perhaps the most important part of your approach: following up with your potential client. Hopefully, you have defined the next steps as part of your presentation, or you’re able to offer additional information to the client based on their feedback during the presentation. Either way, not touching base with the client regularly after your initial presentation will kill the deal no matter what.
Investors will want you to be able to back up your claims. Have a well-thought-out business plan on hand to share, so investors can read more if they’d like to. The intention, after all, is that you deliver a powerful pitch, and by the end, their hands are out asking for either your executive summary or your complete business plan.
Take feedback and refine your pitch
No matter the outcome of your pitch, whether you receive funding, another meeting, or rejection, look for areas to improve. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and take that into account for the next time you pitch. Now if the investor isn’t willing to provide any, don’t push the issue. It is their time you’ve just spent and are asking more of, so it’s a fine balance to achieve.
If you can have another team member there to take notes and review with them after the fact. Look for weak points, areas you stumbled over, and slides that led to negative reactions from the investor. Keep refining, practicing, and executing even if you think you’ve found the perfect pitch.
You’ll really never know how good your pitch is until you actually do it. Don’t stress yourself out, and treat every investor pitch as a learning experience for you and your business. You’ll only continue to get better and better and can apply those learnings applied to every area of your agency.
A good sales pitch not only keeps your ideal prospects engaged, but it persuades them to follow along the journey. If they believe in what you believe, and you can present a better way of doing things, it’s more likely you’ll secure them as a customer for life.
But this can only work if the entire agency is aligned with this story. Indeed, this story and the reason why should be present in your marketing, customer service processes, and the solution itself.
Communicate a better way of doing things, and show your prospects how they can drive results with the superpowers that you can give them. This is the key to crafting a sales pitch that inspires awe.