Do you remember the last time you were email prospecting, looking to book sales discovery calls for the week? You created a hyper-focused list of people you wanted to reach out to, crafted a sales pitch that you thought would make sense to your target list, and then pushed the send button.
Take a minute to reflect on —How many meetings did you manage to book? What was the response rate like?
And, if you zoom out a little more — did you attain your quota for the last quarter? Are you on track to make it this quarter?
If your answer is yes to both, then you are killing it! Because you are probably in the top 20% of salespeople in B2B.
From 2011 to 2019, though the average revenue for companies in the S&P 500 grew over 24%, the average sales quota attainment dropped from 63% to 43%. And when you look at last year specifically, only 24.3% of salespeople exceeded their quota last year (according to Sales Insights Lab)
But, if your answer is no, then there are few things to work on in terms of the sales pitch (assuming that you are selling an amazing product/service that solves a real problem).
What is a sales pitch? And what makes it work?
A sales pitch is a small window of opportunity for you to crisply explain how you can help your prospect. Your prospects need to get (in under 2 minutes) what your product or service does and how it will benefit them in their context.
And to be fair, it is not easy to keep your sales pitch simple, especially when you are selling an increasingly complex and powerful solution. The reason is, you are trying to cram as many features as possible into a short, compelling pitch. And this scenario is common for many B2B SaaS products that are continuously evolving to solve bigger problems across a wider set of use cases.
For instance, we realize that for a product as powerful as Avoma, which caters cross-functionally to sales, customer success, product, and marketing teams, it doesn't help us if we were to simply base our sales pitch on a set of features that highlight the value of our platform.
We need to speak the language of the one reading your pitch. While it's tempting to dazzle your prospects with the full range of problems your product can solve, the key is to remember that a prospect doesn't care about all the problems.
They only care about how your product can help solve their problem. Relevance and simplicity are the keys to a pitch that resonates with prospects.
Creating a compelling sales pitch
Regardless of how your product is, the first thing your sales pitch should do is dispel a prospect's belief about the product and reassure how your product can help them and the benefits they can expect.
A couple of key qualities a good sales pitch needs to have are:
Brevity: People don't have enough time to read or listen to long sales pitches. You need to establish interest in the first few seconds by conveying the intended message concisely in a compelling manner.
Relevance: It's all about relevance —if the product you are pitching makes sense to the prospect at that time for what they are trying to accomplish as part of their goals.
Before we get into what makes for a compelling sales pitch, let's look at the larger picture — deal closure. Why do deals fall apart? Understanding the aspects that impact deal closure will help us take the right parameters into account when constructing our sales pitch.
Sales Insights Lab conducted a survey on the top reasons why deals don't go through, and the chart below shows the outcome of the survey.
The top two reasons are budget and timing. Both budget and timing directly relate to your prospecting and research efforts to build the list you want to reach out to.
That said, you need to go way beyond doing a BANT qualification (BANT is a sales qualification methodology that qualifies a prospect based on their budget, ability to buy, need for the product, and purchase timeline). If you are making BANT your checklist and asking the rote qualifications, then you are not going to build a relationship.
You need to build real value during the prospecting/discovery call stages. Your prospects need to see the value in your offering so that, by the time you are discussing the budget, you are not fighting an uphill battle.
Then comes the question —are you talking to the decision-maker? If yes, ask yourself —how are you aiding them in their decision-making?
When you work in an industry where your goal is to help your customers achieve their goals and objectives, your relationship needs to be more than hitting your numbers. There needs to be a genuine effort to build trust. You need to be building rapport with your prospects by getting to know them and giving them a reason why they need to choose to work with you.
At Avoma, our analysis of over a million conversations in our ecosystem shows that only 5-6% of the top sales performers make an exclusive sales pitch. Instead, most successful sales reps engage in understanding the prospect's challenges and focus on how to help them in solving them.
For example, instead of saying, "Here's what our platform can do," they say things like, "Gotcha, that's a bummer for sure. Here's how you can handle that…."
Components of a sales pitch that works
If you noticed in the LinkedIn survey shared above, 52% of the participants said they would respond to a personalized sales pitch based on research. Having a clear buyer persona can only go so far. You want to make sure that your prospects feel that you understand their pain points and offer a way to fix them.
So instead of using a cookie-cutter script that never changes, you need to make sure you know who you are talking to, what their company does, whom they serve, etc. And this happens with research.
Your research not only demonstrates your commitment to their cause but also limits any risk of being caught off-guard. Researching participants is not only relevant when you're meeting or writing to a new prospect, but more relevant for current opportunities and existing customers as there are always new people you might be meeting with, or their business may be evolving. There are new updates that you're not aware of yet. Showing them that you know a few things about them and their company goes a long way in getting them to hear you.
Let's be honest; no one likes an unsolicited reach out. And it's worse when it's a pitchslap :) How did you feel the last time someone sent you a connection request on LinkedIn? And the moment you accepted, you got a big sales pitch about the services offered by their company?
Annoyed, isn't it?
But what if the conversation started with something super relevant to you. Something like:
"Hey I see you are scaling your content team. Congratulations! I'm assuming increasing your organic traffic is one of the key goals. Do you have a set content distribution process currently?"
You are more likely to respond, right? Because the conversation starts with empathy and is relevant to your context.
And once you receive a response —remember not to pitch immediately. Instead, take the time to better understand the prospect's pain point and then ask them if they are open to seeing how you can help them solve their pain.
Give them a reason to listen to you. Better to avoid any links or URLs in your first conversation.
In fact, by making a genuine effort to be helpful, contextual, and relevant, our sales pitches at Avoma get a decent open and response rate.
3. Clarity and simplicity
Simplicity and ease of understanding are often the hardest to achieve in a sales pitch and the most critical components. It's tough because you are trying to communicate everything that your product is capable of solving most of the time. And if the prospect doesn't get it in the first instance, it's an opportunity lost.
You need to be able to explain what your product can do for a given prospect in one or two sentences, like:
"We help marketing leaders like you to solve _________."
Being understood is a priority.
4. Benefits and credibility
Another key component of your sales pitch is focusing on the benefit your prospect would get and not the features of your product. But, again, focusing on the outcome is key because the prospect is more interested in the net result than how your product or service does it.
Show examples or relevant statistics that give them an insight into the type of customers you work with and why you think you can help them. Something like:
"XYZ uses _______ to provide ______ so that you are not losing out on ______ anymore, which is critical to achieving your goals. It also helps your team reduce the time spent on ______ by 4x, thus reducing your overall costs by ______%."
The more you backup your sales pitch with data and proof, the more trustworthy your sales pitch is. Validate your claims by showing them who your current customers are. Your sales pitch becomes more relevant when the customers you refer to are direct competitors of your prospects or those in their industry domain.
5. Call to Action (CTA)/ Next steps
After establishing interest in your sales pitch and making it relevant to your prospect, the key is to persuade them to take the next course of action. You always need to have a clear CTA on your sales pitch. If the conversation is happening over an email, give your prospects a clear direction on what to do next.
If you are on a sales discovery call, ask them what the next steps could be. While it might come as a surprise, 75% of salespeople don't actually ask for the sale or next steps.
If you have established credibility and interest, you need to ask and not leave it to chance. When you ask the prospect for the next course of action or suggest a CTA, it acts as a great qualifier. It gets them thinking if the next level of conversation is viable and a priority for them in the current timeframe.
It could be something like:
"Would it make sense if I arrange a custom demo on what this would look like for your XYZ (their company name)?"
With a question like this, you get a clear yes or no. It helps both parties. And on the bright side, 90% of the purchases don't happen unless you ask for it.
Tips to continuously improve your sales pitch
1. Have different pitches for different use cases
One of the key problems to tackle when you want to get your sales pitch right is to get your story's angle right. For example, let's say your product solves three different problems. Which do you prioritize?
The best way to approach this is to understand your existing customers and their different use cases in such a situation. Start with listening to your customer calls.
It's a great idea to create a playlist of different types of calls, such as customer onboarding calls, sales discovery calls, customer support calls, etc., to understand the questions asked by your existing customers and how they use your product.
Your perceived value proposition and what the customers tend to see as value tend to be different.
As you can see in the image below, I've created a playlist for sales discovery calls. It helps understand the different use cases.
Once you understand the use cases, you also tend to identify patterns such as 45% of your prospects suffer from problem 1, whereas 30% have problem 2, and 25% talk about problem 3.
This insight gives you sales pitch ideas that present your product in the light of identified problem statements. And when you do a little bit of research and identify what problems your prospect might be looking to solve, you can share the story that will resonate with them the most.
So, to simplify the process:
- Invest time in researching the prospect before you make a sales pitch
- Narrow down the story that will resonate and map it to the features they will find most useful, and focus your sales pitch on those.
- Give your prospect an overview of how the end-to-end implementation of your product would look like.
- Cite examples of how you helped customers with similar pain points.
- Understand the people involved in decision-making at your prospect's organization and start aligning your story based on what matters most to each of those stakeholders.
- Set the right expectations at the start of every discovery call, be upfront on what's available in your product right now, and give them insight into upcoming features with an expected timeline.
- Build trust.
2. Collaborate with your teammates to refine your sales pitch
There's nothing like getting feedback on your sales pitch and collaborating on it. And there are several ways to go about it. For instance, you can set up a brainstorming session with your colleagues and have them share their thoughts on your pitch. Or an asynchronous way of doing it is — share your sales pitch on a Google doc and ask your team to share their comments.
Don't take it personally if your colleagues rip your sales pitch apart to shreds, as long as they are trying to be helpful. Always take things with a pinch of salt :)
If you want to take this a step further, you can ask your marketing and customer success teams to share their comments on parts of your sales calls, such as objection handling or pricing discussions.
They can bring in their perspectives. For instance, a customer success manager can share their insights into the kind of conversations that happen after the purchase and offer suggestions on setting the right expectations with your prospect.
Similarly, the marketing team can give you suggestions on the right marketing collaterals you can share with the prospect based on your conversation. Finally, a product manager can suggest a better way to explain a feature and more.
You get the idea.
These insights can help you add further weight to your sales pitch and the overall conversation, thus customize your storyline based on the kind of prospect.
3. Double down on the positive moments
How well a sales pitch resonates with your prospect is always going to be contextual. Even though you are starting your conversation with something that you think will be relevant to your prospect, your product may or may not be mission-critical for the prospect.
So always, track the positive moments during a conversation to understand your prospect better.
Positive moments are an indication as to what resonated with your prospects. And you build your follow-ups and further conversations based on it. Also, referring to positive moments across the conversations of your entire team, you might be able to cull out a pattern on what are some of the features or functionalities that a specific customer persona looks for. That, in turn, can help you create sales pitches that resonate better.
Writing a winning sales pitch isn't easy. It's continuous work in progress. Ensuring you have a feedback loop established within your organization —collaboration across functions accelerates your overall sales process, including sales pitch refinement. Always have a clear call to action and be following up.