Picture this: you're sitting across from a potential buyer, ready to deliver your sales pitch. You've spent hours preparing, researching their needs and crafting the perfect offer. But as you begin to speak, you notice that they're not really listening. They're fidgeting, checking their phone, and seem disinterested in what you have to say.
You start to panic. You've been in this situation before and you know that if you can't get their attention, you're going to lose the sale. But what can you do? You've already gone through your carefully crafted pitch, and it doesn't seem to be working.
This is a scenario that we've all experienced at some point in our sales careers. And the truth is, it's not always easy to capture someone's attention and persuade them to take action. But with the right tools and strategies, it is possible.
In this article, we're going to explore the key elements of a successful sales pitch and show you how to overcome common obstacles to get your prospects excited about what you have to offer. So if you've ever struggled to close a deal or feel like your pitches fall flat, keep reading. This article is for you.
Crafting Your Digital Pitch
Though LinkedIn and social media sites are all acceptable methods of communication, email is the preferred method of communication for busy professionals. However, you need to consider that sending your message actually creates another task for a person to complete. In order to complete the chore of going through their inbox as quickly as possible, most people simply skim through their emails. That’s why each sentence in your email should be crafted to get the recipient to actually read it, starting with the subject line.
Think of your subject line as a kind of doorway for your email. A doorway that opens, narrows, or closes altogether depending on how well it’s crafted. A subject line that gets your email opened and read is one that your prospect cares about. It could be a recent news story or a new statistic about their industry. Or you could use a “value add” statement that presents an ideal picture of what your offering could mean for them.
Greet your prospect by their 1st name, as if they’re one of your peers and if possible, include mention of your strongest commonality to make a personal connection with them.
Don’t make the first sentence all about you or your brand. Instead, use a hook that will make them want to continue reading. Consider any of the following:
Sparking their curiosity
Offering genuine praise
Speak to a pressing industry related concern or fear
Ask for a meeting in a way that the recipient feels that saying yes to your request will in some way help them achieve their goals. Be brief but give them a clear idea of what you bring to the table.
And in addition to being persistent, be memorable. Craft your ask in a way that’s powerful, yet to the point about what’s in it for them.
3 Rules to Follow During the Pitch
Rule #1: It’s Not About You
Selling your brand to buyers has nothing to do with your brand and everything to do with THEIRS.
This may seem contradictory but put yourself in their shoes…
A vendor approaches your brand and says “We can get your brand into Whole Foods!”. Well, that’s great… unless you’re already in Whole Foods. Then, this conversation is a waste of your time.
If that same vendor had done their research or asked the right questions then they would have known that what you really need is secondary placements.
Your job is to give the retailer that you’re pitching into the same depth of knowledge about their needs as you would expect a vendor to give YOU.
Tips on Making the Pitch NOT About You:
Understand what’s trending in the industry
Understand the retailer’s target audience
Understand what their short/long term goals are
Pitch your brand as a solution that fits their goals and adds value/revenue to their business.
Rule #2: Turn that Frown Upside Down
During a sales pitch, the person on the receiving end naturally enters a defensive mode. They get these meetings all the time and not every brand fulfills their promises.
Before you start your pitch, make sure you’ve eliminated all doubt - in other words “turn their frown upside down”. It’s going to be impossible to get your point across if they have their mind set before the meeting even starts.
The best way to do this is to immediately call attention to the elephant(s) in the room. Research shows that the best way to confront negativity, is to call it out without judgment.
For example, if you’re in a competitive category (every CPG brand in the Natural Food Industry, honestly), one of the assumptions a retailer may make is “We offer so many brands that offer the same thing, what makes you different?”.
Before they even get the chance to ask that question, include in your initial phrasing:
I know you’re probably thinking, "We already have so many of the same options on the shelf. How will this brand draw enough attention to compete?" However, we’ve done studies that show that consumers are interested in X and Y when looking for these products. It doesn’t look like you are currently offering that solution with any of your other selections in this category. We believe that our product will have no issue getting off of the shelf at your store.
Tips on How to Call Out the Negative:
I know you’re probably thinking…
I know I’m another _____ brand asking for the same thing…
I know this category is competitive…
I know you hear from a lot of sales representatives…
Rule #3: ‘No’ is The New Black
As a salesperson, a business owner, or anyone that’s ever had to ask for anything… ‘No’ is the scariest word you can receive.
But when it comes to a sales pitch, ‘No’ should be your new favorite word.
When it comes to sales, ‘Yes’ has many more meanings than an affirmation. ‘Yes’ can also mean, “whatever I need to say to get you to stop contacting me”. And that kind of ‘yes’ gets you nowhere.
But, ‘No’ gets you everywhere.
For example, if a retailer tells you, “No thank you, we’re not interested in pursuing any more products in X category. You now have the opportunity to ask them a magic question, “what would you need to happen for this to work?”
This follow-up question lets you get down to the bottom of why this retailer thinks they shouldn't pursue new products in your category.
The retailer’s response could be “We’d need to see X units sold/week on average after the first 3 months”.
Boom, now you’ve got your in! You now know exactly what you need to do/offer to get their buy-in.
In this specific example, you could try offering free products to make them feel more comfortable with bringing your brand into their store. If you meet their concerns then you both get to walk away as winners.
That is why getting to the ‘No’ is something you should pursue rather than run away from. ‘No’ uncovers the layers of the buyer’s concern that you would otherwise not be aware of. And it allows you to face those concerns head on with unique solutions.
Questions that Lead to Solutions:
What would you need to happen for this to work?
What about my offer doesn’t work for you?
You want to go into your meeting with the decision maker having confidence and a strong presentation that will set you apart from your competitors.
A strong presentation means leveraging data to show the value of your product, giving a clear picture of who your strongest competition is and how you're already beating them or plan to, and an engaging explanation of what makes your brand unique. Most importantly, how your product will “elevate their sets in stores.”
What is it about your product that will provide the customer with a new and exciting option? Whether it is unique flavors, simplistic clean ingredients, certifications, sustainable packaging, sustainability in the supply chain, give backs, or timely meeting the need of what consumers are looking for, you need to spotlight the differentiating characteristics of your product.
All of these elements should work together to convey the value your brand can bring to the retailer. You should also include a detailed marketing plan that leverages the tools and platforms that resonate most with your target market.
When including data in your pitch, at minimum, be sure to include YTD sales, category insights, market-specific information, consumer demand trends, and competitor analysis. One of the most effective ways of presenting this data is to tell the story that answers the question:
How does my product ELEVATE the set?
Pro-tips for Success
Do whatever is necessary to put yourself in an emotional state that enables you to speak with a relaxed confidence.
Before the meeting, identify the most common objections and prepare answers to them that are clear and concise.
Your pitch should not only present the uniqueness of your product and how it adds value, but it should also show that your business is capable of handling inventory demands, has a strong consumer following and a strategic marketing calendar.
Have an understanding of the retailer’s causes and/or initiatives so that you can make any possible connections with your brand, business, or personal interests.
Use visually appealing and easy to understand infographics and charts. These are not only great for enhancing your message, but they also help to keep the listeners’ interest.
According to Brevet, a leading sales effectiveness consulting firm, 80% of sales require multiple follow-ups before the deal is sealed. So be consistent and follow through on your word. Understand that following up isn’t just crossing an item off of your “to do” list, it’s an important part of building a relationship with your prospect. So, don’t rely on just emails when following up, reach out via phone and/or LinkedIn. Be mindful of how you space out your communications, understanding that in most cases they’re not ignoring you, they’re just very busy. That being said, don’t quit until you receive a ‘yes’ or a definite ‘no’. Good luck!