This Week’s Big Deal: Prepare a Winning B2B Sales Pitch

October 28, 2019

Back in ye olden days of baseball, pitches were simple. The player on the mound threw as hard as he could over the plate, hoping the batter 60 feet away would either miss or get himself out. Assessments of pitch quality were mostly based on gut feel and observation. 

Today, there are all sorts of newfangled ways to analyze pitchers — velocity, spin rate, extension, etc. (You might’ve seen some of these new-age metrics displayed during World Series action over the past week.) As a result, the craft of pitching has become far more sophisticated, because baseball teams have a deeper understanding of what works and what doesn’t for that eternal objective: getting people out. 

Sales pitches, too, used to be simple. The classic salesperson had a go-to elevator pitch they could recite at any time. Sometimes it worked, often it didn’t, but the formula was straightforward and uncomplicated.

In a new world of data and customer insight, sales pros have vastly more information available to help tailor and improve their pitching skills. Even if you’re (smartly) focused on building relationships, while leaving cold calls and unsolicited outreach in the past, the sales pitch remains an essential tool. At some point in the relationship, you will need to persuasively convey the value and fit of your solution for a prospect.

When that time comes, you can equip yourself for superior results by adhering to the advice we’ve curated for this week’s roundup of top sales insights.

All in the Delivery: Honing Your Modern B2B Sales Pitch

“The buyer's needs are your priority,” writes Kristen Bowie in her writeup on How to Craft a Concise B2B Sales Pitch in Limited Time. “Each potential customer you speak with is unique in B2B sales, but when you pitch your product or service you need to be able to clearly communicate how it benefits each individual buyer.”

Personalization and tailored messaging is the foremost focal point when it comes to sales engagement today. Buyers expect reps to enter any conversation with a clear understanding of who they are, what they do, what their company does, and how their industry works. That’s why the one-size-fits-all elevator pitch no longer gets much lift.

Work with marketing, and put in the time and effort on your end to develop this level of insight. From there, you can utilize these tips for a pitch that lands in the zone.

Use Storytelling and Narrative to Structure Your Case

Facts tell, but stories sell. For all the change we’re seeing in the world, this remains eternally true. Humans are wired to respond to stories, and the best salespeople seamlessly architect their pitches around narrative form.

“Successful sales pitches come from creating connection between you and your potential client,” Bowie explains. “If you can effectively articulate the story of your brand and product, you will create a stronger connection between you and potential clients.”

There are endless ways to approach this. You could share a real story of a past customer’s experience, or a fictional tale that captures the imagination. You can arrange numbers and data into a cohesive sequence. You might even offer up an anecdote from your own past to build authentic rapport. 

Infuse Emotion and Tension into Your Pitch

Emotionally compelling stories and pitches tend to be the most effective. We covered this a few weeks ago in our discussion of selling to people, not businesses, but it merits further reflection — especially after Jeff Kalter penned an informative new post on 5 Ways to Unlock Emotions and Drive B2B Sales.

Kalter cites five ways that salespeople can spark a buyer’s emotions to drive action:

  1. Understand how the brain buys (“lizard brain” must sign off first)
  2. Use emotional triggers to unleash the desire to buy
  3. Build emotion into your brand
  4. Start with “why”
  5. Work on improving your Emotional Quotient (EQ)

Be Creative and Differentiate Yourself

People notice and remember that which is different or unexpected. This is especially true for buyers who are inundated with so much of the same — same content, same sales messages, same channels. Try thinking of ways you can make your sales pitch unique, whether in terms of delivery or substance.

To get your mind going, I recommend checking out Harvey Mackay’s recent post on jazzing up your sales strategy. He offers numerous examples of outside-the-box techniques for standing out and earning a buyer’s attention. For example:

  • Intentional (but clever) misspellings 
  • New experiences for customers
  • Contests with eye-catching premises or prizes
  • Catchy and ubiquitous ads
  • A unique calling card

Back Up Your Value with Evidence and Social Proof

At the end of the day, decision makers generally need more than your word to be swayed. Even if you’ve built trust and presented a clear, customized, credible case for your solution, that won’t always be enough to cross the finish line when buyers are facing such immense pressure to get it right. 

This is why building social proof into your pitch can be so critical. Hailey Friedman lists this as one of four proven growth tactics for B2B businesses, listing several examples: showing social likes/shares metrics, testimonial pages, influencer reinforcement, positive case studies, media coverage, etc.

The key is to ensure you have proof content that is relevant, resonant, and genuine. Let your satisfied customers and clients do the talking. 

Pitch Perfect: Bring Your A-Game

The sales pitch is a pivotal moment. Approaching it the right way is of the essence. Start with insight and personalization, then sprinkle in the right amount of storytelling structure, emotional impact, creative twist, and social proof. 

With all we know today, thanks to data and research around buyer preferences and tendencies, there’s no reason to stick with the elevator pitch.

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