A sales pitch can be completed from an office, during a conference, over lunch or even on a Zoom call. Whether one-on-one or in front of a group, showing confidence can make – or break – a deal.
Often a sales pitch is your company’s first interaction with a potential client. Research your client beforehand so you can quickly adapt to their concerns. Use the opportunity to educate the client beyond your website or cold email. The best pitches solve a problem for your customer. More importantly, you will need to effectively communicate that your product or service is the best solution by actively listening to their questions and specific business needs.
If you’ve noticed that your sales pitches are falling flat, check out our seven top tips for building confidence. Find out if your go-to moves are turning off clients and how to make corrections so you can close the deal.
How to appear confident during a sales pitch
Practicing anything brings us to a place where we feel a greater sense of ease. So whether you are preparing to debut in your first Broadway musical, proposing to the person you love in a public place or petitioning for more time off at work, practice puts us at ease. Practice, as the old saying goes, makes perfect. Whether or not you believe this is true, it does carry an element of truth.
Since the first human beings walked the planet, practice was a way to survive, master a skill, learn a trade, market yourself and earn an income. Most of us are not born with phenomenal communication skills. These things must be learned, and practicing is the only way we can get there. If you want to appear confident when giving sales pitches, you must practice giving them repeatedly.
Part of practicing means permitting yourself to fail. Practice is not about perfectionism; failing is often part of the process. It allows you to learn from your mistakes. Permit yourself to fail when making sales pitches. Failing is natural, human and honest; people will appreciate your genuine and sincere approach to sales pitches. Be gentle with yourself when you fail and learn from it. Above all, remember that practice does make perfect … or, at least, something close to it.
Perhaps persistence is one of the most critical factors in appearing confident when giving a sales pitch. Practicing persistence in a conversation lets others know you are not one to back down or give up easily. Instead, you are determined, driven and willing to do what it takes to make something happen. Persistence is admirable, even if you have to fake your way through it.
Be persistent, without being too overbearing, by responding to their answers with facts and questions. Let them know how great your product is. Sell it. At the very least, persistence is a great way to get what you want by helping others get what they want. The key, however, is that your potential clients have to know what they need, which is where you come in.
Tell your audience that they need your product and explain why. Be persistent by asking questions, providing facts, making eye contact, giving valuable information, and showing you care and can be trusted are great ways to appear confident and collected.
Being proud of the products you sell is a serious factor in confidence. If you believe in what you are trying to sell, and stand behind every word of your sales pitch, you are more likely to make others feel the same. People are people, regardless of your products, and they have some of the best nonsense detectors built into them. How do you expect them to gain interest if you are faking your way through your sales pitch because you are disinterested?
Don’t forget to smile. Be professional yet personable. No one wants to buy products from, or even take an interest in, someone who looks like they would rather be somewhere else. Future buyers of your products are most likely to engage and take an interest in what you say if they feel like they are speaking with a human being.
It’s true. Everyone knows whether or not you make a sale directly affects how much money you take home that day, but that cannot be your continual excuse to fudge your way through sale after sale.
Use lots of expressions when talking, even if it seems over the top. Hand gestures, smiles, widening the eyes, opening the mouth and action, in general, brings life and positive energy to a conversation. Standing in one place, keeping a straight face and conversing with someone as though you have a straight jacket on is not the best way to appear confident when giving a sales pitch.
5. Body language
Pay attention to your body language during a sales pitch. According to Shapiro Negotiations, “The best sales negotiators are the people who listen effectively.” And by listening, we mean more than just words. What your body says – and especially what your client’s body is saying – should be an indicator for your next step. For example, did your customer raise their eyebrows at a particular comment you made or lift their chin? These are signs of interest and you’ve got their attention.
Beyond just the body language, ensure you are tuning into any verbal cues. Your ability to identify their interest or disinterest and respond effectively shows you are both prepared and confident. Additionally, it will give your client a chance to trust you, which is typically one of the first and most important steps in making a sale.
Storytelling is essential for connecting with your audience. Stories have a beginning, middle and end. Whether we are reading or watching them, a good story engages our attention in its entirety.
Storytelling can help the client identify pain points, failures and successes. Clients will “lean in” as you role play relatable characters and situations. Then you finish with an arc that offers a must-have solution.
Researching clients before each pitch can also help you personalize the story. For example, include people in their inner circle, a challenge they had to work through or how their success story could look by using your product or service.
A consultative selling approach builds a relationship with the client’s pre-sales pitch by listening to their needs and gaining trust. After creating a connection, the salesperson personalizes a product or service. Consultative selling puts the client’s needs above the sale and garners authentic business relationships.
Business leaders frequently listen to a variety of sales pitches. You must stand out from the crowd if you want them to listen to your pitch.
Engage emotionally with your audience, whether through humor or empathy, to help break the ice.
Try using the 60-second method. Craft a concise elevator pitch that provides a sales pitch overview. Then, pause for a moment to gauge their interest. Pausing can help calm nerves, keep you focused on the end goal and allow client interaction.
Advice from the pros
Mastering the sales pitch involves understanding the product or service’s value, not just the product or service itself. Therefore, confidently communicating involves not only persuasiveness but active listening.
If you are missing opportunities or lacking sales, check out the following sales pitch mistakes that could hinder your success.
Talk less; listen more.
You may believe getting every last detail of your sales pitch out is the most important goal, but finishing your pitch shouldn’t be your end game.
Most sales pitches fail because the speaker is doing all the talking and not listening. A failure to listen prevents connection – whether the meeting is in person or virtual.
Don’t plan your next move. Be present. A good salesperson is an active listener, so they can adapt to the client’s custom needs and provide solutions, not just noise.
Ditch the robot.
When presenting a sales pitch, put yourself in the client’s shoes. You only get one shot to make an excellent first impression. But, if they are learning about your company, product or service, do they need an in-depth presentation or a brief overview so they can ask questions?
Most of the time, engaging a client takes a conversation, not a presentation. Focus less on the details and more on active listening. The client is more likely to follow along if you include them in the presentation, rather than just talking at them.
Use storytelling to connect with your listeners; don’t overwhelm your customers with too many points. Be open to their questions during the pitch and be transparent with your answers. Trust is an integral part of sealing the deal.
Clients care less about the features of your product or service and more about the benefits. Don’t bury this within your sales pitch, or you’ll lose your audience. Open with how your company can meet their needs so your client will see why you are so passionate.
Do your research.
It’s wise to research clients that you will be pitching to. Don’t waste time pitching to a client that doesn’t require your product or service.
The research applies to one-on-one pitches, virtual sales presentations and cold leads. First, do your homework to ensure your potential clients have a problem you can solve. Then, tailor your sales pitch to meet their needs.
Love your company. Love your client more.
Passion for your product or service is essential. However, no matter how much enthusiasm you put behind it, your ego can sometimes get in the way. When you put everything behind your product or service, you expect everyone else to do the same. But that won’t always happen. No one closes a sale 100% of the time – no matter what your product or service provides.
When a sales pitch doesn’t go your way, don’t blame the client for missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Instead, look at your product, service and sales pitch to see how you can improve.
Constructive criticism can be hard to swallow, but it will make you a better salesperson and help your company grow. Focus on the relationship. You may not always make a sale, but the ability to go back to the client when you have a new pitch is priceless.
Provide the next steps.
A sales pitch can’t be successful without a call to action (CTA). Unfortunately, while CTAs are prominent on landing pages, social media posts and email newsletters, inexperienced salespeople often forget that they must lead a conversation to the next step.
Once a client is interested in your pitch, clearly tell them what to do next. For example, whether they need to know how to contact you, access services directly or request a sample product, give the client the information at the end of the pitch. Providing the next steps keeps the client engaged and helps you follow up appropriately.
To have a successful business, you must learn to sell your product or service. You will constantly need new and repeat clients for your business to thrive. Mastering the sales pitch will help create your dream business. So be an active listener and encourage constructive criticism to improve and nurture more profound relationships. The more trust you can build with your clients, the easier it will be to engage them in a conversation that leads to a successful – and repeated – deal.
Additional reporting by Carol Evenson.