The Art of the Pitch
Career Path : Business
Whether it’s a product or service, seeking funding to make a film, or it is ourselves we are selling in an interview, throughout our lives there are many instances in which we must convince someone of something. As much as many people wish to believe that good ideas will sell themselves, there is a definite art to pitching, to convincing why the “buyer” should choose you above all others. In a world where a million flashing neon signs are vying for limited attention spans, it is crucial to be able to crystallize exactly what you want and what you are offering, even if only given the 30 seconds in an elevator with your decision maker.
Before the Pitch
Be clear to yourself about what you wish to achieve from this meeting. Narrow your focus to a reasonable objective and this may just mean putting your best foot forward in establishing contact and setting the stage for the future deal. Don’t get too myopic in your demands that you can’t see when your project is progressing, even if you haven’t completely won your buyer over yet. What do they want? Know your buyer as much as possible ahead of time, where they come from, how they communicate, what their goals are and how your idea fits into their grand scheme of things. Try to learn about projects they’ve approved in the past and what they are expecting from you. Know their competition and know your own so you can deliver something that stands out from the pack. Understand your idea so well that you could condense it to a sentence or two if necessary and anticipate potential objections with ready responses. Rehearse your pitch in broad strokes so you can cover all your important points without getting bogged down trying to memorize specific wording.
Making the Pitch
Studies show that the timing of the pitch can greatly influence the probability of approval. Try to schedule meetings for when the buyer is most receptive, typically early in the morning or just after lunch. Like a good story, draw them in with a punchy beginning that illustrates why they should care about your idea. People often buy based on emotions. Get to the point quickly. Make it personal to their situation, demonstrating your research and always observing their reaction. Tailor your sales strategy to their way of doing business â find common interests to build rapport so they will enjoy doing business with you. Make your enthusiasm contagious with varied tone and inflection, perhaps as part of a pitch team. Don’t overly rely on visual aids - it’s the personal connection that matters. People tend to fade out when the lights dim for PowerPoint presentations so try writing stuff on the board instead.
Closing the Pitch
By now you should have answered what makes your offering unique and what value it brings to the buyer. Try to resolve their concerns and always finish on a positive note before making a smooth exit. Don’t overstay your welcome. Be ready to take the next sales management steps such as scheduling a follow-up meeting, then part with a smile and solid handshake.
Visit Fusion Learning Inc. for more information on sales training.