Pitch, Please. Master Your Next Sales Pitch With These 6 Tips
Often, the only thing standing between you and the closing the deal is a final pitch.
Just look at your typical sales process:
You’ve reached out to your prospect, given her a brief pitch, uncovered her needs, sent her relevant sales collateral, presented your proposal, and guided her through her buyer journey.
But to make the call, she also needs you to convince others involved in the decision-making process.
And that’s typically when things start to get…a little more stressful, don’t they?
Public speaking is part and parcel of the sales process.
Even though you rarely have to stand in front of a large auditorium, presenting to a group of prospects is equally stressful.
And so, to make this task a little easier for you, I decided to share with you 6 public speaking tips that will help you deliver more engaging sales pitches.
Ready? Let’s get cracking then.
#1. Arrive Early
Has this ever happened to you:
You arrived at a sales pitch only to realize that your laptop’s battery is flat and there is no socket within its cable’s reach.
A projector in the room doesn’t support your computer’s video output.
Or there are not enough chairs to host everyone invited to the pitch.
And so, instead of getting started, you spent huge chunk of your allocated time trying to solve those issues – waiting for the IT guys to arrive to hook you up to the projector or rearranging the room to be able to plug your laptop.
But you see, small hiccups like these are inevitable.
And there is no way to prepare or predict them either.
In fact, the only way around them is to arrive early to check the setup and solve any problems before the people you are supposed to wow with your pitch get there.
#2. Research The People You’re Presenting To
The best way to connect with an audience is by learning about them ahead of time and then, covering issues they find relevant in your pitch.
Once you get a sense who your audience is, you can talk about the things they’re interested in, give relevant examples of how they could use your product and talk in terms of their lives and work.
So if possible, try to get a list of people who will be present at your pitch ahead of time.
Research them online. Check their Linkedin profiles and other social media accounts. Read their updates and see what content they’ve liked to get a sense of who they are, what topics or issues relating to your industry might interest them (and ultimately, what you need to touch upon in your pitch).
PRO TIP: Use the free app Charlie to handle all of this for you. Charlie combs through 100s of sources and automatically sends you a one‐pager on everyone you’re going to meet with, before you see them.
#3. Support Your Sales Pitch with Powerful Slides
It’s hard to expect a prospect to listen to the entire presentation.
For one, you’ll probably be meeting them some time during a busy day. And in spite of their best intentions, they might have more important issues to think about than your pitch.
So use slides and images to ensure they remember the most important information you talked about.
I’ve already shared some advice on various presentation styles that help achieve the biggest impact during a sales pitch.
To reiterate though:
You could construct your slides just like Masayoshi Takahashi does, include only text set in a large type on a solid background, and in doing so, isolate the main message of his current state of speech.
(A slide from Takahashi’s presentation – source)
This method works particularly well if your aim is to build rapport with the audience and also, evoke an emotional response from them.
The Lessig Method, named after a Stanford Law professor, Lawrence Lessig, focuses on creating slides incorporating a quote or a short sentence that are then synced with what the speaker actually says.
This method works particularly well if you want to fascinate your audience and make a memorable impression on them.
Guy Kawasaki advocates presenting using the 10.20.30 style:
Presenting 10 slides in 20 minutes with text set in a large, 30pt font.
His method is ideal if your goal for presentation is to get someone to agree with you.
Finally, you could also display only images, just like Seth Godin does.
Godin’s design style focuses on creating an emotional, interesting and highly visual presentation in which the bulk of storytelling is delivered by visuals not words.
It’s an ideal approach if you plan to energize the audience and evoke an emotional response from them.
#4. Move Around the Room to Let Your Audience See You
Did you know:
55% of your effective communication is body language and only 7%, the actual words you say.
What’s more, 82% of our perception is based on what we see, not hear.
And so, by standing still or worse, hiding behind a desk or lectern, you limit the opportunity to communicate effectively with your prospects.
That’s the reason why all good presenters always move around the stage or even the room.
They know that movement attracts attention. People tend to pay more attention to something that is moving rather than standing still.
Gestures also help emphasize a point you make. They express emotion, release tension and engage the audience.
Stance communicates your personality. Just by looking at the way you stand or move about the audience can tell if you’re confident or uncomfortable in this situation.
And eye contact builds connection with the people in front of you.
So, move around during your speech. It will help you to attract attention and break the barrier that naturally arises between a speaker and the audience.
#5. Ask Questions
Here’s a question:
What makes the audience stop, think, and process your message?
Questions (see what I did there).
They also engage and make them a part of conversation.
All which are factors that help you to convince the audience to your ideas.
In his book, To Sell is Human, Dan Pink writes about a particular experiment conducted at the Ohio State University in which researchers tried to establish the most powerful way to pitch.
As it turned out, pitches presented in form of questions came out as the most inspiring and engaging.
Here are 3 distinct types of questions you could use in your pitch and the effect they have on the audience:
- Rhetorical questions intrigue them. Asking questions that you actually don’t expect your audience to answer makes them think about the issue.
- Polling questions (i.e. questions the audience can answer by raising a hand) make them part of your story.
- Inquiring questions draw the audience’s attention to the root of a problem.
#6. Use Stories to Reset the Audience’s Attention
Your audience’s attention will wane out during the pitch. And quite quickly at that.
Your prospects might listen attentively at the start but the longer you go on for, their minds will begin to drift off.
Here’s a typical attention span on a 50-minute lecture:
Sean O’Brien, the executive vice president at Atlanta-based online meeting and collaboration firm PGi, claims that the average adult attention span fell from 12 to 5 minutes in just a decade (source).
As he points:
“With an attention span of five minutes, the average audience is going to tune out 84% of your 30-minute speech.”
Luckily you can overcome it by pushing what many public speakers refer to as a “reset button” – a set of techniques guaranteed to get the audience to pay attention to you again.
Some of these techniques include:
Telling stories. We’re naturally drawn to stories. And so, just a notion that someone might be telling a story draws our attention.
Cracking a joke. Let’s face it, it’s hard to drift off when everyone around are laughing at something.
Taking questions from the audience. Break your presentation into sections and ask for questions after each section.
Doing something unexpected. This might mean walking to the other end of the room or simply displaying a seemingly out of place slide.
Getting prospects to participate. Ask a question or to perform a specific task. You could, for instance, ask the audience to write down a list of situations in which they’d see your product as the most helpful or tell you what they would like you to demonstrate with your product next.
Ideally, you should include at least a couple of these techniques to make your presentation more engaging.
Public speaking is part and parcel of selling.
And even though you rarely have to stand in front of a large auditorium, presenting to a small group of prospects is equally stressful.
Techniques I mentioned above will help you get through your pitch, deliver a memorable presentation and make a solid impression on your prospects.