Picture this: It’s EOD Thursday, and John from Sales knocks on your door. He’s pitching a huge account on Monday. It’s an enterprise account—one that’ll fundamentally change business for your company. John asks if you can give his presentation a once-over, so “you know, it looks good and sounds smart from a marketing perspective.”
You got it, John! Then he drops a 100-page hard copy of his PowerPoint on your desk and whistles his way out of your office.
You already know what’s in this beast: too many slides, too much text and probably some clipart. It’s your job to save the day, and make sure John’s presentation hits home with those who’ll be at the pitch—so you guys can sign on that new client.
Now it’s game time—so here are three steps for preparing a pitch that’ll knock it out of the park.
1. Understand what’s going on with the prospect and industry
You have to do your homework in advance to understand the prospect’s business through and through. Build your presentation to demonstrate that you know their:
- Biggest business challenges
- Industry and its inner workings
- Competition and what differentiates the main players
The information you need is out there; it just might take some digging to uncover the insights:
- Scan annual sales reports, press releases and web news to learn more about the issues they’re dealing with.
- Cross-reference the business objective of the pitch with your learnings to maximize the relevancy of your talking points.
For example, in one of our pitches, we dug a little and discovered something the prospect didn’t tell us: one of their key divisions would be battling extreme shortages in the coming months. We geared the pitch to this highly relevant hot-button issue, showing how we could help them resolve their supply problems.
2. Influence those who hold decision-making power
The following may seem counterintuitive, but listen up. The pitch isn’t about you. It’s about what you can do for the prospect. You must craft messages that address the needs of every stakeholder at the meeting—from the C-suite to procurement and operations.
- Create a spreadsheet of the key stakeholders you need to influence and define what they care about.
- Then map out how your solution addresses their pain points.
- Cross-check your presentation with this spreadsheet to make sure you are speaking to every stakeholder’s needs.
- Talk with your pitch team to identify all parties you should be talking to. Work with your advocate at the company and leverage their influence to encourage all the essential people to attend the meeting.
3. Demonstrate your capabilities in the context of the prospect’s problem
You can keep the conversation about the prospect—even when talking to your abilities and expertise. Here’s how:
- Keeping the objective of the pitch in mind, pinpoint the business issues you’ll help resolve for the prospect.
- Show, don’t tell, how you helped other companies overcome similar challenges. The more similar the company or issue, the better.
- Always connect the dots for the prospect. Don’t believe that they’ll intuitively make the same connection you want them to make. When we pitch, we’ll say something like “Company A’s salesforce needed to increase sales, so we created a powerful sales tool that helped their reps close more deals faster. We can create a tool like this for you, to help your team grow business in the new market you identified.”
The B2B sales process is tough and complex, involving multiple decision-makers whose roles require them to care about different things. The pitch is your chance to show each stakeholder what you can do for them, so don’t be afraid to challenge their thinking. Your recommendations may not be perfect, but you’ll demonstrate how you think—and potentially start a conversation that convinces your prospect that you’re the best fit for the job.