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Breaking the bad habits of the sales pitch

By Alice Crick, senior strategist



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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October 22, 2019 | 6 min read

We don’t think we’ll be offending anyone if we argue that the majority of sales pitches are boring. They should be the ultimate tools in persuasion and empowerment. After all, their goal is to convert leads. They should be engaging, memorable and persuasive.

ifour pitch

How can personalisation improve the sales pitch?

But time and again, prospects are subjected to bland presentations that feel like they go on forever.

We’ve all been there - cornered in a meeting room, confronting a screen dense with bullet points. There are swathes of content that, while no doubt informative for some, just aren’t relevant to your business.

And all the while your inbox is piling up, the day is slipping away, and your coffee’s gone cold.

Death to the challenging sales pitch

Finally, you’re free. Maybe the business responsible is fantastic. Maybe it’s offering a new solution for your brand. And maybe you’re interested. But after that pitch, you just need a breather.

Why are sales pitches so boring?

Why don’t they adapt to reflect the conversation as it happens?

And typically when they are interesting, when it’s mostly about the conversation that goes along with them, there’s limited text. This makes it difficult for colleagues who couldn’t make the pitch to understand the proposition out of context. And the reality is, the average business deal includes over eight decision-makers.

There must be another way.

Challenging the necessary evil

In a survey of US business decision-makers, 60% said they were annoyed by generic sales pitches, while 52% were frustrated when personal information was forgotten by sales reps.

We are all consumers, right? Our business-making decisions are both emotional and rational. But if your pitch isn’t stimulating your audience, if it’s boring them, you’re asking them to prioritise their rational mind over their emotional one.

A clear example of this can be seen in the effect of brochure wording on users’ propensity to make a charitable donation. A study found a brochure describing the story of a little girl’s plight, whose life would be changed, was far more successful in attracting donations, over it’s statistic-led, data-heavy counterpart.

It seems to us, that in presenting words and pictures on a screen, accompanied by a speech, traditional sales pitches and presentations are trying to do everything at once. They try to appease visual, verbal and social learning styles. And in trying to satisfy them all, pitches can fall short and leave everyone wanting.

Why subject your prospects to a face-to-face if they’re a solitary learning person? What if you’re pitching to an introvert, who sits through ‘boisterous’ presentations because it’s the only thing on offer?

So what we’re really trying to say is if extroverts crave lots of stimulation, and introverts prefer quiet, thinking time, but presentations are kind of a blend of the two, who are we hoping pitches will speak to, on an emotional level? The kind of level that facilitates the best emotional and rational business decisions?

Are we sticking to traditional sales pitches because they’ve become the norm? What if you could offer each prospect something different? What would happen if you decided to pitch to each prospect as they wanted to be pitched to?

Instinctively you may think that’s a crazy idea that would be totally inefficient. But by doing the legwork ahead, creating a few simple templates and asking your prospects well thought-out questions, it doesn’t need to be that hard.

Personalising the pitch

The power of personalisation is clear. From prospecting to customer retention, clever personalisation is a tried and tested way to show your consumers you get them, and you care.

The answer is to start by finding out what your prospects really want, and what they’re all about, including how they like to learn and their preferred style for their pitch.

Then you can use that information to build their pitch. Maybe it is a face to face meeting with a non-linear presentation. Perhaps it’s a dynamic video that speaks directly to them. Or maybe its a phone call, the result of which is an interactive infographic.

All three solutions can be pre-built with simple templates that allow you to enter your prospect’s details, resulting in a bespoke deliverable. Thus, you can answer their questions about your business and demonstrate what you can do for them, but in a way that’s entirely catered to their style of learning.

This could then lead to A/B testing of CTAs on your website. Instead of just ‘Book a demo’ or similar, offer them a choice:

  • Take a quiz to receive a personalised video
  • Leave your number to be called back
  • Book a face to face meeting

The performance of each can be tested to discover whether CTAs that require less commitment from the user perform better than options that feel like they’re further down the funnel, such as booking a demo.

Prospective customers can be followed up to see how they enjoyed their video, and sales representatives have more time to speak with leads who are actively engaged, that little bit further down the funnel.

Alice Crick, Senior strategist at ifour.


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ifour is a multiple award-winning creative agency based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Founded by Creative Director, Graeme Hall. His vision was...

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