For the masses, the term “sales pitch” often evokes associations with overly polished, boastful presentations meant to push skeptical decision-makers toward an unnecessary purchase. That negative affiliation is backed by research—only 18 percent of buyers trust the sales reps trying to sell to them.
That’s not a very promising start to a sales relationship. And what’s even more frustrating is that most experienced salespeople will tell you that a great sales pitch is your best friend.
So, what’s the truth?
You don’t need to abandon all sales pitches—you just need to adapt your pitches so buyers don’t put up their defenses as soon as you start talking.
In this article, we’re going to discuss:
- What is a sales pitch?
- Why is it important to have a sales pitch?
- The 5-step sales pitch structure
- How to make a great sales pitch
- Sales pitch examples
What is a sales pitch?
A sales pitch is a message or sales script designed to lead your prospect to a certain action, such as scheduling an appointment or demo. Sales pitches set the tone for the entire customer relationship, so getting them right is essential to successful sales.
The first step in developing a great sales pitch is changing your mindset. A sales pitch should be used to begin a conversation—not to sell a product. Keep that in mind, and your quota will thank you.
Types of sales pitches
Sales pitches are not one-size-fits-all. There are many different sales pitches depending on your product, your company, and how far along you are in the sales pipeline.
Types of sales pitches include:
- One-line sales pitch
- Elevator pitch
- Phone sales pitch
- Email sales pitch
- Social media pitch
- Presentation sales pitch
- Follow-up sales pitch
- Investor pitch
- Pain-point pitch
- One-minute sales pitch
You can always use a combination of pitches for the same prospect. For example, you might give an elevator pitch at a conference and then follow up with an email pitch before finally delivering a comprehensive presentation pitch.
How does a product pitch differ from a sales pitch?
Product and sales pitches overlap a great deal, but they’re not exactly the same thing. A product pitch highlights a specific product and how that product can benefit the prospect. A sales pitch focuses on the prospect and tries to persuade them to buy products based on solutions to pain points.
Product pitches are usually used further down the sales pipeline, once reps already have a prospect’s trust. With a relationship established, they can focus on the details and features they didn’t have time to mention earlier.
Why is it important to have a sales pitch?
Love them or hate them, sales pitches keep you from losing opportunities. When you’re face-to-face with a prospect, the last thing you want is to get tongue-tied. Sales pitches organize your thoughts so you have a launch point for any sales conversation. They also establish brand consistency, which builds trust and leads to stronger long-term relationships and customer loyalty.
Sales pitches can also save you time—and time is money. Every pre-made pitch you send is another 30 minutes of sales productivity saved. If your reps don’t have to craft individual pitches, they can move through their tasks with more efficiency.
How to make a great sales pitch
The ingredients for a well-crafted sales pitch are the narrative, timing, empathy, and creative focus. No matter where you’re pitching or what media you’re using, every sales pitch needs to get the prospect interested and excited about the opportunity you’re offering. There are several ways to do that, but let’s look at six universal best practices to start you off.
1. Reach out at the right time, and connect with the right person
A successful sales pitch is all about timing, according to Courtney Gupta, a community engagement specialist and former SMB account executive at Zendesk.
“You can have this amazing sales pitch, but the success of it really depends on timing,” Gupta says. “Sometimes, prospects would love to talk but aren’t looking to change vendors or are in the middle of another deal. Make a note if they provide a better time to reach out.”
Gupta also emphasizes the importance of getting in touch with the right person.
“Some salespeople will start off speaking with lower-level management, for example, because that might seem like an easier in, but they don’t always have buying power,” she says. “Whoever is signing the deal (usually VP and above) should be your target.”
2. Make the prospect the hero of your story
The next step is framing your pitch with a compelling narrative. In this story, the prospect is the hero—they have a challenge they need to overcome. Your product is the sidekick that will help them do it. Your job as a salesperson is to make the connection between your product and your prospect’s happy ending.
3. Understand the customer’s needs
You can’t tell the right story if you don’t know your audience. Buyers want sales reps to take the time to gain a firm understanding of their business and the roadblocks they’re facing—but the reality doesn’t always match the expectation. Many customers don’t believe that sales reps truly understand their problems (or have a way to solve them).
Your initial sales pitch should demonstrate your knowledge of the prospect’s company, industry, and unique challenges. Most types of sales pitches allow for some time to research the prospective buyer in advance, and it’s critical to do so. Even just 15 minutes of research on Google News and LinkedIn will go a long way toward inspiring confidence.
“A good sales pitch relates the action you want the customer or prospect to take back to why it’s important to them and their company,” says Gupta. “You need something from them, but what can they gain from working with you and your business? There has to be some incentive on their end.”
4. Start your email pitches with a strong subject line
In an email pitch, the subject line is the “once upon a time” that leads prospects into your sales story. In many ways, it’s a microcosm of your entire pitch.
An intriguing subject line speaks to prospects on a personal level and persuades them to take the time to read the message. We analyzed sales email subject lines from 15 different SaaS companies to identify the most effective tactics for writing powerful subject lines. Here’s what we learned:
- Keep it personal by using the contact’s name and the word you. Generic subject lines are easy to ignore and will quickly end up in the trash folder.
- Hook the prospect into your story by writing something meaningful. Include an eye-catching statistic, offer an informational (or controversial) statement, or ask a question that demonstrates your knowledge of their industry. Do your research, and target a personal pain point.
Crafting subject lines that are relevant to your prospects comes with practice. Consistently A/B test your emails to learn what works and what doesn’t in your messages.
5. Get creative
Go beyond the standard sales pitch email or cold call—there are creative ways to take a pitch to the next level.
“If your emails didn’t work, gifts are another avenue,” says Gupta. “Gifts show your brand character. They often make prospects want to take a meeting because they remember you and relate that positive memory to your brand. Even if the timing wasn’t right the first time, they’ll keep those warm, fuzzy feelings in mind in the future.”
Remember, there isn’t only one way to increase sales. Try different tactics until you find what works.
6. Keep pitch length in mind
Buyers don’t care about your product or service—they care about their problems. If you spend all your time with a prospect talking about yourself and your company, it’ll be hard to convince them that you actually want to help them resolve their issues. Keep your sales pitches concise, and leave room for listening and engagement.
The ideal sales pitch length depends on the format, but here are some general guidelines to follow:
- Aim for 300 words in your sales emails. A study of cold sales emails found that emails with 1,400 to 1,500 characters (approximately 300 words) showed a substantially higher response rate than emails of 100 words or fewer.
- Keep your cold calls under eight minutes. Chorus, a conversation intelligence platform, discovered that 7.5 minutes is the average length of a cold call that converts into a next step.
- Limit your sales presentation to 18 minutes. Apply the TED Talk principle to your sales presentations. TED Talk speakers are limited to 18-minute presentations for a simple, data-backed reason: After the 18-minute mark, you lose your audience to information overload. Attention wanes, engagement is lost, and it’s that much harder to get a yes.