Nailing the Pitch Pt. 2

by Jeremy Lord on July 18, 2016

So now that you have worked out the general structure of a great pitch. I thought I would share some ideas that you could play with to truly give you an advantage over everyone else in the room. I like to call these strategies the “secret sauce” or “corking the bat.” It’s easy to say “appeal to your audience,” but once you’re in the room with them it becomes a lot harder, especially for the more introvert of salespeople. Here’s a few items that could prove helpful in stressful situations.

Step 1: Practice....and practice some more

Being anxious or nervous is difficult to overcome. The only real answer to becoming more comfortable is to repeat your spiel over and over again; repeat it to different audiences, using different techniques, and get a good feel for speaking to people when the spotlight’s on you. Few people are natural public speakers but for the rest of us 95%, practice is the only way to overcome that sort of stress. Learn how to become comfortable, and also learn to roll with the punches. There is a strong guarantee that a pitch will not go as you wanted; learn how to improvise on the fly to appeal to your audience. After enough practice of articulating important arguments, speaking clearly, and ultimately being more effective at communicating it will become second nature.

Step 2: Tell a Story

Everybody loves a healthy serving of honesty every once in awhile, and when done correctly showing that sort of integrity could be all you ever needed. People would rather pay more for somebody who’s going to be honest with them, than a company that charges less but goes back on their word. Apple™ and Steve Jobs is the epitome of this argument. They knew their audience so well because they did research and to a certain extent were a part of their own customer base. They knew the needs and paint points of their market and Steve Jobs appealed to those emotions with personal experiences. If you haven’t watched Jobs’ iPod Introduction, take a look because few speakers have moved people the way Jobs did.

Step 3: Take Your Time

The audience can tell when speakers are nervous. Once they see sweat accumulating, nervous swaying, and notice that the speaker is talking a million miles per hour, that’s all they start to think about. While you’re speaking too, you can see when people know that you’re nervous; they’ll start to smirk a little bit or even mirror your nervous movement. That in turn, makes it hard for you to focus on your pitch. Taking your time is a great great way to minimize all of those “tells.” Take a breath, let your audience digest your claims. This will also keep the audience on edge wondering “what are they going to say next” and grabbing their attention back. It also helps people to retain more of the information that is being presented; they’ll make those internal connections and may better understand the impact your product could have.

Step 4: Ask

You have to end by asking for something. If you don’t ask for anything, you might as well had been talking to a brick wall. Ask for that next meeting, ask for their support, ask for referrals; leave with something. If it’s not in the cards yet keep trying and keep asking. Harvest that relationship and leave it open ended. One of my favorite things to do if there is an awkward silence after asking for something is to see where I could help them with their business outside of the product that I’m pitching. A few examples could be, let me know if you would like me to give you feedback or ask what some of their struggles are that they are currently facing. Take that information and get back to them with something useful. Keep the relationship going in a positive direction. Once this goes full circle a few times, they’ll start to trust you more and more eventually leading to a more serious sales discussion.

Sales is all about playing the long game. It takes time for people to trust you or your product, but if you leave the meeting with valuable information; take it and learn from it. As Obi-Wan once said, “Strike me down and I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” The first and one of the most important steps to closing a deal is nailing the pitch! Get off on the right foot with your potential clients and then run with it. If you’ve knocked your pitch out of the park, I would love to hear about it!

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