Batter up! It’s time to talk about selling to new prospects. Unless you want to throw the game, you need to hit your next pitch out of the ballpark. And that means you have to plan.
Far too many salespeople walk into pitch meetings woefully unprepared. They stammer. They backtrack. They spend too much time on the wrong topics. In the end, they leave without hope of sealing the deal.
Of course, you don’t want to face that reality. You can’t afford to: Today’s marketplace is as competitive as it gets. A 2021 survey conducted by Sales Insights Labs shows that 61% of sales professionals feel selling is tougher than it was a half-decade ago. That’s a seriously good reason to throw everything you have into making each pitch count. Start by implementing the following pre-pitch tactics.
1. Set Yourself up for the Win
Think about your favorite superstar athletes. You know darn well they don’t walk onto the court, field, or pitch without putting in a lot of hard work. They focus on their nutrition. They visualize their desired outcomes. They cross-train like crazy to enhance their physical abilities.
What’s funny is that when they score points or achieve personal records, many people attribute it to luck. “She’s on such a lucky streak!” Yet as Mark Lachance, author of the bestselling book The Lucky Formula, explains, luck doesn’t happen by chance. It happens by choice.
How do you plan for “luck” to shine upon you during a pitch? Lachance has created a step-by-step solution that includes mastering your internal and external conditions just like top athletes do. By controlling everything you can, you leave less room for error—and more room for a resounding “yes” from your prospect.
2. Understand What Motivates Your Audience
Want to make sure your pitch has a soft landing? Personalize it to your prospect. Rather than just focusing on vague pain points, get as specific as you can. Most salespeople don’t dig around enough or supplement their pitches with customized statistics or news. That’s a mistake. Every prospect has unique needs in addition to general, overarching ones.
Now, you don’t want to get too clever. A prospect might feel uncomfortable if you mentioned something too private while pitching, like his daughter’s alma mater or wife’s employer. Nonetheless, you could adapt and tweak each pitch just a bit to show that you’ve done your homework and understand your prospect’s needs.
For example, consider folding industry data that’s relevant to the client into your presentation. If your pitch includes a Google Slides or PowerPoint deck, you might want to incorporate the prospect’s logo where applicable. These little touches may seem simple but they can help your prospect feel less faceless and more valuable.
3. Walk Through a Dress Rehearsal
The majority of stage performers rehearse over and over before getting in front of an audience. Even actors in improv troupes engage in regular rehearsals. True, you may not be ready for Broadway. Nevertheless, you can benefit from making the effort to go through at least one full-scale walkthrough before your pitch.
To get the most out of the experience, wear exactly what you plan to wear. Have all your physical and digital documents ready to go. Test your background if you’re going to be virtual. Then, go through your pitch from beginning to end. For best results, have another person play the part of a prospect and video the experience. It’ll be hard to watch but will reveal areas for improvement.
Why does this work? It just boosts your confidence, which allows you to concentrate on what your prospect says. Research from HubSpot shows that 69% of buyers report that just being heard improves their sales experience. When you’re not distracted by your pitch, you’ll be able to engage in the flow of the conversation more fully.
4. Have Handy Answers for Obvious Objections
You’ve come to the end of your pitch. You’re thrilled with how well it went. Then, the objections start. Suddenly, you start to perspire and turn into the proverbial deer in the headlights. Not a good look, especially if you’re trying to wow your prospects with your expertise and problem-solving skills.
To be sure, weird objections will come your way now and then. With that being said, most objections are going to fall into one big common bucket. As long as you know what they are, you can construct truthful, appropriate responses. Therefore, start coming up with a comprehensive list of pitch objections you’re likely to get.
After exhausting your lineup of objections, you can write and memorize answers for each one. This works well as a team brainstorming workshop, by the way. If you’re not the sole seller for your company, consider bringing everyone together to crowdsource ethical rejoinders to target audience concerns. All your colleagues will be on the same page and can help each other excel.
Every pitch is an opportunity for you to snag another deal, land another lead, and make lasting relationships. Treat each one thoughtfully and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to convert even the coldest prospects into fans.