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Are you looking to perfect your sales pitch? Tune in to this week’s Master Sales Series as we delve into “close prospects and open relationships.” Salespeople are not born, they’re made. While getting leads is hard, closing them is more complex. In this episode of the Conquer Local Podcast, George Leith highlights the ten elements of a successful sales pitch, how they all start with a dialogue, and why it is important to spend your first 90-days proving your value to your client. 

For review, the 10 elements of a successful sales pitch are:  

  1. Research
  2. Understand the problem
  3. Know your offering inside and out
  4. Ask questions
  5. Tell a story
  6. Use contrast
  7. Focus on benefits > features
  8. Differentiate 
  9. Show a success story
  10. Follow up

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Introduction

George: This is the Conquer Local podcast, a show about billion-dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth, and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. They wanna share their secrets, giving you the distilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode, you can rewire, rework, and reimagine your business. I’m your host, George Leith, and today we’re talking about closing prospects and opening relationships on another Master Sales Series episode.

Salespeople are not born, they’re made. The best reps have a formula that’s repeatable and scalable and they have a framework for repeatable success. That’s how they win new business time and time again. The tip of that spear is perfecting the pitch. The base of the handle though is to build a long-term relationship. When you close a prospect, you’re opening a relationship. What we’re going through are the 10 elements of a great sales pitch and how to apply those elements post-sale. Generating leads is hard work. At Vendasta, marketing is responsible for driving a large percentage of those inbound leads. Our sales team is responsible for filling in the rest of their funnel. Let’s face it, getting leads is hard and closing them is even harder. Sales conversion rates across industries only have an average of 2.46 to 3.26%, which means that more than 95% of conversations are just that, conversations. Getting your pitch right is a huge driving factor in pushing up that conversion number. But the other part, the one that gets left off most blogs on this topic is the customer growth and follow-up. I hate the word close. Much of the work with a customer truly starts when a sale is closed. If you ask me, this is the opening, the beginning. Close kind of makes me think it’s the end, but really it’s the start.

Agency owner, Mike Giamprini, said on the Conquer Local podcast, “We’ll spend a good 90 days proving to the customer that we can impact their online presence positively, and we can make them look better, appear relevant, appear more often, appear consistently online, and get them ready to drive eyeballs to their businesses. So 90 days later, we’ll create an opportunity to sell some paid search to that customer if it’s relevant and that is if it makes sense for them.” Now, I like Mike’s format. Spend that first 90 days proving your value, then find a way to add more value. This all starts with setting the bar or establishing clear goals. When a salesperson can consult with their clients to establish a framework for success, then both parties have aligned expectations of the sales relationship. A client should be able to review various key performance indicators and see that their money is being put to good use. 90 days is long enough to build solid rapport and it’s also a very good time to check-in. I recommend checking in at least at the 30, 60, and 90-day mark when you’re immediately post-first sale. The person who made this sale is the person that should prove the value. We’ve updated our model at Vendasta so the BDR who makes the initial sale stays with that partner for a period of time. And our customers love that new model. We do introduce the account manager, but the person that brought the deal across the line stays in the deal. That’s how we can pass that customer into a new motion inside the organization, ensure that the onboarding gets that customer to get to their first value. These components ensure that when you close, which we don’t like that word, when you start a new customer, you’re ensuring that the expectations that have been set are being met and that that customer is finding value in that first 30, 60, and 90 day mark.

Let’s get into it. The 10 elements of a successful sales pitch are research, understanding the problem, knowing your offering inside and out, ask questions, tell a story, use contrast, focus on features and benefits, differentiate, show a success story, and follow up. When you go into a meeting with a prospect, the more you know, the more likely you are to have success. To address the concerns of your prospects, thorough research on them is vital. When you’re underprepared, it comes across negatively and can leave a bitter taste in the prospect’s mouth. Put yourself in a better position to understand their needs from a business and personal standpoint. For instance, if you know they’re looking for a CRM, try to understand the kind of customer that they’re seeking, then you could fill in the blanks with relatable words, use language and content that they’re familiar with. This helps them see you as the expert and you get a better picture of what it looks like if they were using your solution. Your investment in research makes it evident that you genuinely care about the needs of your prospect and it makes it more likely that you’ll strike a chord. If you see that LinkedIn post your prospect made, they mentioned about how much time they spend drafting proposals, lead with your new smart proposal builder tool, that’s the obvious move.

Research

After the sale, research and understanding is even more critical. At the 30, 60, and 90 day check-ins that I’ve recommended, your research will prove that you didn’t just enter their life to sell them something, you came in to make a difference. And you truly care that the solution you sold is making that difference. You need to understand the impact your product or service has had and be able to speak to it articulately.

Understand the problem

Number two, you need to understand the problem and their industry. The sales pitch should talk less about selling and more about helping. How can you help your prospect solve the problem? Define the problem and clearly outline the solution, concisely articulating what you do, and relating it to the challenge your prospect is facing and that will empower both of you. You’ll have clarity on what you’re trying to accomplish and the goal to the prospect will be obvious. What do the products or services you offer accomplish? How do they help your prospect? What is that problem that you’re solving? So now, when you’re following up, you need to address how the problem has been solved. That might mean reviewing data to show the return on investment and getting anecdotal evidence from your customer or even a before or after snapshot. I like to go through an executive report with a customer and highlight what’s changed. Also highlight additional opportunities where they can grow. Be transparent, set those realistic expectations. You don’t have to solve the entire problem in 30, 60, or even 90 days after the sale, what you do need to do is illustrate your progress. Show where you’re making adjustments to the tactics in order to achieve the goal. Show that you can explain the unanticipated blockers that you’re coming up against and propose a solution at the same time. Remember, the customer came to you because you are the expert.

Know your offering inside and out

Our third item is knowing your offering inside and out. This comes with consult of selling. When we talk about the sales process, we’re a student of the customer. We’re asking lots of questions. We’re looking for the nuggets. Then we develop a strategy that matches the needs of the customer. And if you know your offering inside and out, you can make it work for the customer in a specific, measurable, and valuable way. Post-sale, check in regularly to make sure your customer is experiencing the full functionality available to them. Walk them through how to use the product to achieve the results you were selling. In one of the later check-ins, this might be a good time to look at additional products and services depending upon the needs of your customer. Now that they’ve got a website up and running, let’s make sure that they’re following a social media strategy. You’ve proven why listings need to be correct, maybe they’re ready for reputation management solutions, and so on and so forth.

Ask questions

Speaking of fourth, ask questions. A successful sales pitch begins with a dialogue. Rather than starting with an opening line that’s all about you, try posing a question or a few. Asking questions makes your pitch more interactive. It engages a different part of your prospect’s brain. Use open-ended questions like, “Have you ever noticed?” “Did you see this in your current setup?” “What’s the biggest challenge your business is facing right now?” Not only will asking questions ensure that your prospect is more engaged, but it will give you better information. You already know everything about your offering. What can you learn in this meeting? The more they speak, the more customized you can make the conversation, the follow-up proposal, and the solution that you offered. You can really dial into the needs of the client. Don’t stop asking questions after the sale. “Is this working the way you expected?” “How can I improve your experience?” Work with your prospect to set goals on timelines and then revisit those goals on a regular cadence. If you’ve worked with them to set the expectation of improving their digital advertising click-through rate by 1% in the first 90 days, make sure that you’re checking back in regularly and reporting on the current progress. Also, I think it’s important to report on the things that you’re changing in your approach to get them the outcome that you agreed on.

Tell a story

Tell a story to engage the prospect. Stories are one of the most powerful tools that we have at our disposal and telling stories helps the prospect remember you. Analogies that explain your product can be helpful as well. Stories are way stickier than facts and figures alone. If you need convincing, here’s a few stats, stories are 22 times more memorable than facts and figures alone. Our neural activity increases five times when we’re listening to a story. Storytelling lights up the sensory cortex in the brain allowing the listener to feel, hear, taste, and even smell what you’re talking about. We wanna connect with customers in an emotional way. We want them to feel our story and we want them to remember our story. People remember stories and not facts. Telling them stories to illustrate what they’ve accomplished. Good companies, tell stories, and great companies tell their customers stories. If you are seeing success with a customer, ask them if you can use that story as a case study. This story format centers them as the protagonist and the hero and it will clearly illustrate their success. And it’s a huge win for you. You can use their story as future marketing collateral. Studies show that 92% of online consumers look at a product review prior to making a purchase. A case study gives your next set of potential customers a story to latch onto and a way to understand what you do.

Use contrast

Item number six in our top 10 list is use contrast. Now, this is an art. Use from here to there in your narratives. Where are your customers now and where could they be if they used your products or services? Imagine your customer’s life before and after using your solution and then tell a story of what happens to them when they make the decision that you want them to make. That’s the benefit that you’ll include in your pitch. What is the main problem that you solve for your customers? Use the answers to these questions like, “What is your biggest challenge?” And that will allow you to highlight the contrast. Now here’s an example. If your prospect’s biggest challenge is getting new customers, you can use data, a story, and some imagination to show them the benefit of using your product. Here we go. “Right now, your digital ads are getting a click-through rate of less than 2%. Let’s look at this report. You’re making about $2,500 a month from your conversions. Now, if we deploy the trusted process that I was explaining to you that we’ve ran for other organizations like yours, and we talk about creating compelling creative, testing regularly, building directly related landing pages, and then verifying our work across many platforms, this usually means that my customers have a click-through rate of over 5%. So in your case, with the metrics that we’re measuring, it would mean increasing your monthly revenue from your ad campaigns from 2,500 to $6,250 a month.” Would that be a good start to getting new customers? You can see that that story along with the data and the information that you’ve garnered from the prospect during the discovery process is a compelling way to tell your story and to get the buy-in from the prospect. After you’ve been working with a customer for a while, show them how far they’ve come. You used to be up late every night, missing some of your children’s extracurricular activities, trying to get your digital ads to work. But now look, they’re performing better, you have more customers, and you’re not doing the work yourself, you have more time for your family now. And what you’re doing there is you’re highlighting the economic benefit for the business with their personal life, and you’re showing them that you care in building their trust.

Focus on benefits > features

Number seven is focus on the benefits, not the shiny features. When you’re describing what your products or services do, you should always lead with benefits rather than the buttons. No one cares if your social marketing tool has the functionality to find keywords within a 25-mile radius. They likely do care that you can proactively find customers by typing in a word like flat tire and connect Twitter users to the right business. It’s easy to get caught up in a direct feature-to-feature comparison. Our competitors may be doing that, but we can do this better. This could be compelling, but it’s usually a tit-for-tat analysis that leaves your prospect trying to tally up your value rather than truly experiencing your value. Looking at feature matrices and comparing dollar for dollar are signs that your prospect is focusing on features and not benefits. These pieces of the puzzle are worth consideration, but they simply can’t be the focus. Now after the sale, this is much more intuitive. Illustrate what your customer has achieved and then you can bend this rule by reminding them how they did it. That doesn’t mean a highly technical explanation of what’s been achieved. Use a contrasting narrative like I described before to drive home the benefits.

Differentiate 

Now, number eight, you must differentiate. Now you get to delve into your unique selling proposition or USP if you like acronyms. And I think you know by now that I don’t. Why should your audience choose you and not your competitors? Very interesting question. Your brand positioning statement should be unique to you. A competitor just can’t swap out your company name and replace it with theirs. It’s your unique selling proposition or your brand promise. For example, Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon, also used to say he sold hope and not makeup. Some airlines sell friendly service, while others sell on-time service. Neiman Marcus sells luxury, while Walmart sells bargains or price rollbacks. Vendasta delivers incredible online experiences, not simply a platform for agencies and service providers to market, sell, bill, fulfill, and deliver. I’m sure you can see the difference and your prospect will feel it too. Differentiating, especially post-sale, doesn’t mean you need to mention all of your competitors, but don’t be afraid to mention the competition, but don’t focus on them. Focus on what’s different and special about you. You don’t wanna slag the competitor. Not only do you want customers, but you want brand loyalists, they care about what you do and why you do it. When customers truly buy into your brand promise, that unique selling proposition, they’ll support you proudly, opening, and refer more business your way.

Show a success story

Show a success story. Once you’ve explained the benefits and clearly defined what you do, leave your prospect with a success story. Show them someone who has done this before and explain the tactics they use to achieve the success. The story will stick and give them a concrete understanding of how all of what you’ve said translates to the real world. After the sale, you can share other stories of customers in similar situations who created a process for repeatable success. The more relatable the stories are, by company size, niche, and industry, the more likely they are to resonate. When you can highlight the tactics used to achieve success, it’s incredibly beneficial. It works to create a playbook for your customer and perhaps this customer could be your next success story.

Follow up

And finally, drum roll please, number 10, the follow-up. Following up after you’ve made the sale is even more important than following up to make the sale. Customers who feel sold to and not cared for quickly become resentful. Follow up regularly, see how they’re using your products, how they are feeling, what you can do differently. If you do this early on in the post-sale cycle, it’s easy to course correct. Think of a plane going just one degree off its flight path. For a short time, not a big deal, the pilot can course correct and still land within a small window of the original arrival time. But that one degree goes unnoticed for a long time, and the consequences are huge. Your plane is running outta gas, you end up thousands of miles away from where you’re supposed to be, and you can’t really course correct at that point. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been on calls with customers that felt that they were neglected. It’s really hard to get them back on track.

Conclusion

And those are our 10 elements of a successful sales pitch to make sure your relationship stays on course. Let me give them to you quickly for review. Research, understand the problem, know your offering inside and out, ask questions, tell stories, use contrast, focus on benefits, not features, differentiate, tell a success story or 10, and always follow up. If you like this Master Sales Series Episode, Discussing the 10 Elements of a Successful Sales Pitch, check out some of our past episodes like 413, The Benefits of Marketing to Existing Customers, and our two-part series, 323 and 324, Converting Leads with Existing Clients. Please subscribe and leave us a review and thanks for joining us this week on the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.

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