How to win your next pitch

Filed under: Personal development skills

Pitching for new business is part of everyday working life. Companies go to great lengths to pull out the stops and seal the deal. Yet a successful pitch is usually won on being smart with your strategy not sales technique. And although bigger firms have more power to throw behind their presentations, smaller businesses can easily outshine the competition if they perfect their pitching technique. Whether doing a credentials pitch or a project pitch, here are some tips to help you have that killer, winning conversation.

1. Identify the need

Before your meeting, find out what your prospect wants to achieve. Be mindful that what they say they want might not be the best for them. By doing some homework, you’ll get to know their business and can come up with some innovative solutions to showcase your knowledge. This information can form the basic opener for your pitch.

2. Practice

Learn your presentation like an actor leans a script. Because the more you know it, the less likely you are to dry up. Plus, you can confidently ad lib on the day and add personality to your pitch. People only remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, yet about 80% of what they see and do. So make your presentation interesting with visuals, and have a pitch deck with on-screen information to keep things focused.

3. First impressions

Business is all about people. So making a connection is essential as it’ll give your client an idea of what you’re like to work with. Plus, they’ll learn as much from the way you act as what you say. Clients know people will say anything to win business. So although you want to be authoritative and knowledgeable, make your meeting personal, warm and relaxed.


4 Keep it simple

Offering a new technology or service is a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Yet don’t blind a prospect with too much jargon or science. Show you know about emerging innovations but keep things punchy and interesting. Remember: the optimum conversation and attention time is about 9 minutes, so keep things short and simple.


5. Give a strong set up and powerful punch line

The set-up is recognising that the company has a need or problem which you can help with. The punch line is your solution. Focusing on what you can do, how you could do it, how long it would take and what it could cost, is what each prospect ultimately wants to know. With the right set-up your punch line can be brilliant. With a weak set up, your punch line could be flat and fail to secure you a deal. Showing lots of enthusiasm and passion for everything will help your delivery.


6. Sell the sizzle not the plan

After your punch line, make sure you only give a rough outline of what you can do for your client – not all the specifics. Too many details could invite criticism, there and then. A pitch is as much a showcase of your personality as anything else. You want to leave prospects feeling that you’re good to work with and that you offer the hope of a solution. That way, you’ve the opportunity to deliver more in the future. So don’t give everything away prematurely. Explain that you need to work together to create a final comprehensive plan.

7. Listen up

At the end of your pitch, when questions are asked, take time to answer them concisely. People naturally trust those who appear to listen more to what they are saying. You can intersperse your answers with evidence such as case studies, results and awards to show your skills. After all, clients believe that 53% of those pitching over promise most of the time. So it’s good to add credibility. And if you don’t know the answer now, “I’ll find out” is much better than “I’m not sure”.


8. Close with confidence

If your ideas seem well received, don’t be afraid to ask about the competition. The client might not tell you but they could drop some useful bits of information which you could be helpful later. You might want to hint at a willingness to negotiate on cost and timings as a possible future solution. But don’t undersell yourself or appear desperate. Instead, show enthusiasm about working together and ask about what the next steps might be.

A couple of days after your pitch, remember to follow up with your potential client to get their feedback. And if you don’t get the business, it’s useful for future presentations to ask for why not. In the end, new business, pitches are essentially a winner-takes-all competition. But hopefully, with these steps, you’ll be a winner in your workplace every time.

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