You’re due to give a sales pitch to a major client. It’s your first time being given this role on the team and you’re nervous, very nervous.
A lot hangs on your ability to deliver the right message in the right way. This presentation could make or break your career. Sounds familiar?
We have all been in situations where we have to deliver an important presentation and despite the fact that not everyone might like to admit it, we have all experienced ‘sweaty palms syndrome’ at the thought of messing up our delivery.
10 fail-safe techniques to deliver a winning sales pitch
1. Use Toastmasters International
There are a few things you can do to overcome your nerves and deliver your sales pitch or presentation with style and confidence.
One of the first places you could start is your local Toastmasters club. Toastmasters International is a non-profit organisation that offers presentation skills coaching to its members in a friendly and supportive environment, all for a nominal annual membership fee.
There are Toastmasters clubs all over the world and if you like what you see at club level, you could even progress to participate in some of their competitions and compete against other Toastmasters on the global stage at their International Speech Contests.
However, if you’re still at the stage where the thought of making a presentation or a sales pitch makes you feel ‘green at the gills’, put the thought of International Speech Contests on hold (temporarily!) and try to master a few of the following techniques first.
2. Know your audience
Before you even begin to prepare your presentation, you should start by researching your audience.
If you know that you will be delivering a presentation in front of a major client, ask yourself:
- Who my audience is? What is their background?
- What are the job titles of the individuals on the client team?
- How acquainted is my audience with my topic?
- How familiar is the client team with the topic I am going to be speaking about?
- Will I need to explain my topic from scratch or can I assume that they already have some prior knowledge about it?
- What are the three messages I want my audience to remember?
- What are the Unique Selling Points that I want to get across?
3. Call your audience’s attention
According to Emma Ledden, author of ‘The Presentation Book: How to Create it, Shape it and Deliver it! Improve Your Presentation Skills Now’, great presentations use two techniques:
Hooking & anecdotes
It is important to tell your audience the value of your information to them, i.e. explain the benefits of what you are trying to get across in the first place.
This is what’s called a ‘hook’. You need to give people a reason to listen, by telling them the benefits at the beginning of the presentation.
For example, you could start a presentation to a client about your ‘software product’ by stating at the beginning.
‘Hello my name is Gemma Costello. In 2016, 90% of our customers rated our software product as the most user-friendly, most cost-effective and most time-saving solution on the market. We’ve introduced an innovation this year to win over that remaining 10%. Interested in hearing more? ’
It is important to remember that if you are understood and deliver your message clearly, you can speak with conviction.
Speaking with conviction gives a greater chance of persuading your audience to do business with you.A lot of it boils down to whether you believe in what you are selling.
If you believe in the product/service you are pitching to your client, this will help you to speak with integrity, which always makes a presentation more convincing to your audience.
Using real-life examples, stories or anecdotes always help your presentation to come across as more authentic.
What personal anecdotes can you tell about your business that will present it in the most favourable light?
Do you have any memorable stories to recount about how you personally have used your product or service?
Customer testimonials are always a powerful way of demonstrating the value of your product or service – assuming of course that you have the permission of the customer to use them.
4. Think of a logical structure
You should open your presentation with an overview of what you are going to cover. Your introduction should include the most important message and the primary benefit – ‘the hook.’
According to Emma Ledden, it is important to have the beginning, the middle and the end based on three ‘clearly digestible’ pieces of information.
You should try to base your presentation on three core messages which you can expand with a compelling, supporting material. Try to illustrate them in different ways to re-emphasise them and to drive home your point.
For the conclusion, you should recap and remind your audience of your key messages and why those messages are relevant to them.
5. Project your voice
The success of your presentation will depend on a large extent on your content.
However, there are also other factors that come into play, which ensure a professional presentation delivery.
It is important to remember to project your voice in a way that is appropriate to the size of your audience in order to be heard. If you are delivering your presentation to an audience of fifty or more, you will more than likely be using a microphone to deliver your presentation.
If the audience comprises more than 50 people, you’ll more than likely use a microphone.
For smaller groups, ensure that your voice is loud enough to be heard comfortably at the back of the room. This is where the ability to project your voice is so important.
6. Vary the pace during the sales pitch
Depending on the content of your sales pitch, you may also vary the pace.
You could slow down your voice when you reach a more complex section of your presentation, for example.
This will enable your audience to understand what you are saying properly.
7. Vary your pitch to create interest
The same rule applies to the pitch of your voice.
Again, depending on the presentation content, you may wish to elevate your pitch for some sections or lower it for others.
The important thing to remember is to vary your pitch to create interest in your subject matter.
Tempting as it may seem, do not speak in a monotone!
8. Work on your body language and facial expression
So much of what we communicate is communicated through our body language (hand gestures, movement etc.) and facial expression.
Your audience is much more likely to be won over by your sales pitch if you communicate your enthusiasm for what you are selling in your facial expressions and body language.
However use these techniques within reason, you don’t want to come across like a robot, but you don’t want to come across like a comedian on speed either!
9. Make eye contact
Remember too, that it’s important that to make eye contact with your audience to really connect with them.
Avoid zoning in too much one particular individual, as this may make them feel uncomfortable.
Focus rather on distributing your gaze evenly around the room.
10. Practice makes perfect
Even the most experienced presenters can still feel the odd butterfly in their stomach before they are due to give a major presentation.
Practice is the secret to success
The more familiar you are with your content, the more naturally it will come to you on the day of delivery.
It is a good idea to practice your sales pitch speaking out loud in front of the mirror and in front of friends/family members to get used to having an audience.
You could also try recording your presentation and watch it in order to see where to tweak aspects of your delivery.
If you are videoing your presentation on your smartphone, you could consider buying a smartphone stand/tripod for this purpose.
You could also check out the expert speakers on Ted.com to learn from their style of delivery and try to adopt some of their techniques into your own presentations.
One last tip: always remember to make sure that you have a glass of water close at hand when you are delivering your presentation. If your throat goes dry, a glass of water will help rehydrate you and also help lubricate your vocal chords. Good luck!