Making a Perfect Pitch

Making a perfect pitch

When it comes to getting yourself in front of potential new clients and 'strutting your stuff' you really don't get a second chance to make a good first impression.

If you're pitching to win, this means you absolutely have to be brilliant first time around if you want to have any chance of creating a good working relationship with your potential clients.

Ah. The 'relationship' word.

We'll tell you this right now, most people, when they make tender presentations, partake in beauty parades or pitch for new work, rarely take the relationship side into account. They see their job as presenting the work of their own firm in as professional a manner as possible, making sure the facts are accurate, the material is polished, the PowerPoint slides are up to date and their technical expertise at the ready.

All that is incredibly important. But as far as we're concerned, it's certainly not the most important thing for people to pay attention to. We know it's a cliche, but it is 'you they buy' in the end, not the slickness of your PowerPoint. We'll even go a few steps further: the more you hide behind your technology, facts, figures, and statistics, the less your chances are of clinching the deal.

Here are some of the things that can improve your pitching success rate

Improving peoples Communication and Influencing skills, including:

Questioning, Listening and Responding skills
Relationship building
Delivering clear messages
Adapting individual communication styles
Self-awareness and Looking at personal style
Raising personal profile
Getting buy-in
Confidence building
Information delivery i.e. too much, too little, is it to the point?
Versatility in selling

Things to remember

It's you they buy

 Be aware of your personal style and play to your strengths. Just exactly what is it about you that doctors and others will buy?

Confidence is a very attractive quality to most people

Identify what you enjoy most about the selling process, and then set out to enjoy it. If you enjoy it so will they. Most people will buy if they are having a good time. If you know you know you are weak in some areas get support from your manager and colleagues. Knowing you have something else to try will raise your level of confidence.

Small changes in body language can have a large effect

The listener can have a large impact on a conversation feels. Nobody really sees you changing your body language or vocal tone unless you make it blatantly obvious.

Establishing empathy

People will generally not tell you things that matter until there has been some empathy established; until they feel they know you and you understand them. There are many things that establish common ground and create empathy between people.

Some of the things that establish common ground between people are:

  • Deliberately using I, You, or We statements
  • Self-disclosure
  • Demonstrating knowledge of their business
  • Compliments
  • Using their name
  • Using their jargon and abbreviations
  • Questions and information

Work out what you need to know before you go in.

Never ask more than three direct questions in a row or it will start to feel like the Spanish Inquisition.

Be aware that your body language and tone of voice set the feel of a conversation.

Use open questions if you can. Think of what you are doing as schmoozing the client.

Give them a reason for answering a question; it helps if they know why you are asking.

Suggest things to them and offer the opportunity to agree or demure.

Use pauses and silences to gently nudge them into talking.

You can test where they are coming from without actually asking. For instance, suggest that they are looking for such and such because... This is soft probing and is likely to create some response or reaction in all but the most poker-faced of people.

Making the relationship is as important as selling the product.

Look for other things you can give the client that may not be product related.

Find out what the client wants and give it to him/her.


We know this is a very attractive quality to most people.

Use this checklist to prepare yourself not to be taken by surprise:

  • Why do they want me at this meeting?
  • Why do I want to be at this meeting?
  • What is the set Agenda?
  • Is there any subtext or hidden agenda?
  • What is my bottom line position?
  • What do I really want out of the meeting?
  • What am I willing to give away?
  • What are my best skills?
  • What aces do I have up my sleeve?
  • Do I have a good idea of the big picture?
  • Do I know the ethos of this person/company?

Dealing with disagreement

Find something in what the other person is saying that you can agree with. Making them feel that he/she has been listened to is the first step from an argument or attack back to discussion or negotiation.

Beware of Agreeing in the yes but style

Beware of telling justifying or giving information that proves the client wrong.

The customer is always right (even when he/she is wrong)

Agreeing and leaving silence (zip the lip) is a very powerful way of disarming argument.

Remember the relationship is more important than winning.

So what you're saying is and other variations

Check your understanding and assumptions using statements and questions such as:

  • So what you're saying is...
  • I'm assuming that...
  • Does this mean that...
  • When you say... Do you mean...
  • Would it be true to say...
  • I'm sensing that...
  • Perhaps what you're looking for is...

Use these types of questions to discover things about the other person. Remember a no is as useful as a yes when you are probing like this.

Unspoken needs

Finding out what the client is not telling you can be an important step in creating a good relationship with them.

If you suspect that something is going on elsewhere in the company or with the person themselves, stop selling for a moment and do some soft probing.

Other things that work

Demonstrating passion or belief for a product, view or opinion will always get through to the other people. If you show strong feeling, they will respond in kind.

Showing personal involvement generally gives a positive result. It draws the other person to see you as someone who cares.

Get them to buy you first then the product.

If you go out of your way to make people feel important you are likely to have more positive calls.

Be aware of working the dynamics of the desktop:

Is the display on the table saying formal or informal? Place documents facing them in the centre of the table to stop them getting lost in their own document.

Remember everything communicates. People focus consciously on what you are saying but will be strongly affected unconsciously by how you are saying it and what you are doing.

The layout of the desk between you tells them what to expect and how to behave.

We are currently rolling out a three-module programme designed to enhance the new business pitching skills of some very capable people.

Key to helping people pitch for business is the creation of good working relationships with their potential clients by establishing empathy, getting to know their business and honing listening skills. All of these contribute to being able to hear a business need which may be outside someone's own remit and then being able to fulfil it.

These are business pitching skills that people are not normally called upon to use and this adds to the pressure they are under, especially in a successful company.

Impact Factory is exceptionally good at new business pitches. indeed, our conversion rate from face-to-face meetings is 80%, and we know there is expertise that we offer that can make the whole pitching process easier and more enjoyable.

Talk to us about PItching for Business tailored courses.

Pitching for Business Training

Impact Factory runs

Open Presentation Skills Courses

Tailored Pitching for Business Training

Five Day Communicate With Impact Workshops

and personalised

One-to-One Personal Impact Coaching

for anyone who is interested in

Pitching for Business

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