Consider these factors when you write your next pitch.
By Liz Lemarchand, MediaDev
There is such a thing as the perfect pitch. It’s tailored specifically for one person and hits the nail on the head with a spot-on, straight-to-the-point message. It answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” without beating around the bush, and grabs my attention immediately. It pushes me to respond (positively, and quickly).
In today’s business world, we get pitched all the time, and we at MediaDev are doing a lot of pitching ourselves (for us and for our clients). So how can you get your message to stand out from the crowd of noise that’s swarming around our heads like bees in a sunflower field and that’s only getting louder and louder each day?
Here are some simple guidelines to follow when creating that perfect pitch:
Know your audience
There’s nothing worse than getting a pitch for something that has nothing to do with your business needs. It only shows that the person making the pitch didn’t do their homework, and doesn’t know who you are or what you do. It’s a waste of time for you and them. The perfect pitch is going to hone-in on the business being targeted, with an angle that puts forth easy-to-understand key benefits for a specific type of contact.
The best way to do this is by first checking the news. Has this company been in the news recently? Are there any articles you can find that you can refer to in your pitch that can help you better understand the approach to take? Or maybe they’re nowhere to be found, and that can be to your advantage too (especially if you are selling marketing service solutions!).
Next, determine what’s important to the job title you’re pitching. Knowing the day-to-day frustrations of that type of job function will help you position your product benefits to them better. The prospect will feel understood and will be more susceptible to listening to your line of arguments.
Keep it simple
Stop with the marketing jargon that doesn’t mean anything! If you don’t understand what you are saying, neither will your prospects. You need to clearly differentiate yourself from your competitors, so you need to explain in a few bullet points why your offer is better from everyone else’s.
No-one has time to read long, never-ending, run-on sentences that don’t say much in the end. Keep your writing style simple and to the point -- cut out extraneous words that don’t add value to your sentences. Same goes for speech -- just spit it out!
Don’t trip over endless words, just say what you mean, and mean what you say.
Get the ball rolling and keep it rolling
Once you’ve grabbed a prospect’s attention, keep going. Ask questions, create a dialogue and dig deeper. Don’t lose your momentum with a hanging silence -- make sure you know where you want to go and lead your prospect in that direction. It’s good to map out the key messages you want to get across so that you don’t forget them mid-way through.
Each pitch should have a purpose. The goal is not to sell your product or service with one e-mail or call (especially if your product has a rather long sales cycle). The goal is to get your foot in the door so that you can begin a real exchange (which down the road will lead to a sale).
More often than not, the goal of the pitch should be to land a meeting. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that they have to sell on first try when they should just be focusing on getting that meeting (which is where the selling happens).
The best way to establish trust is to relate to people on a personal level. When people feel understood, or that they’re speaking to someone who can empathize with them, they are more willing to open up and tell you about who they are. This is true for both personal and professional relationship building. Trust is not instantaneous; it is something that is established over time.
The way to do that in a quick pitch is to know your subject matter inside and out. Don’t be too pushy, but show that you can relate to them, and that you “feel their pain.”
Business today is more and more about sound bites. (Especially in politics but that’s another matter!) Making your messages “sticky” is an important way for people to remember them. A great way to do that is through humor. Why? Because people like to laugh! If you can make someone chuckle, smile or feel (just for a second) that what you have said or written is clever, they may give you a few more minutes of their time to hear you out.
Keep culture in mind
In some countries it’s fine to call someone by their first name even if you don’t know them. This is common practice in the US, but in France it’s shocking to do that.
You need to know what practices are standard and which ones are not if you are going to effectively pitch people from cultural backgrounds other than your own. Being familiar with how things are done in those countries helps enormously and can contribute to a higher reactivity rate amongst your target audience.
Specify a clear call to action
At the end of your call or your message, end with a question; it will compel the reader or listener to answer. For example: When would you have time next week for a 10 minute conversation? How would Thursday at 11:00 am CET work for you?
If you just close with a simple, “I’ll be in touch soon,” you’re not requiring the prospect to do anything next, so they won’t.
Conclusion: One pitch does not fit all
The bottom line is that you can’t have just one pitch. It’s not possible to effectively recycle the same speech for each and every prospect because the same message will not resonate with different types of people.
It’s better to spend more time preparing several perfect pitches than it is to take just the one and use it as a spamming mechanism. You may reach less people doing it this way, but the people you will reach will bring you more value.