A well-crafted sales pitch can get your prospect excited about the opportunity you’re offering and encourage them to take the next steps with you.
Sales pitches are about crafting a compelling narrative for your client. However, many salespeople treat their sales pitches as a presentation of facts, figures and results, expecting to make a compelling argument based on data alone.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to use the power of stories to drive decision-making and close more deals after the sales pitch. We’ll also cover the fundamental elements to include in your sales decks, and practical ideas on how to deliver them (combined. Read on for plenty of great sales pitch ideas and suggestions.
First, though, exactly what is a sales pitch?
When most people hear the term ‘sales pitch’ they imagine a room full of potential clients and a salesperson or sales team going through a slideshow in front of them—like “Shark Tank” or “Dragons’ Den.”
But a sales pitch is more versatile than that. It can be a script you go through on a call, a two-minute speech you perfect for networking opportunities or the classic presentation in front of decision makers.
In fact, every time you pick up the phone and tell a lead about your product, or meet someone at a business mixer and give them the lowdown about your product or company, that’s a sales pitch.
Most salespeople will go through their sales pitch at least once a week, or even on a daily basis. For sales teams, this is a regularly occurring part of the sales process, so you should have your sales pitch perfected and optimized for every occasion.
As the old sales saying goes: facts tell, but stories sell. This is especially true when putting together your perfect sales pitch.
Here, we’ll dive into how to frame your sales pitch around a narrative that engages your prospect and gets them invested in what your solution has to offer.
It may seem counterintuitive, but a product pitch shouldn’t start with the product, it should start with your client’s biggest pain points (something that will surely resonate with decision-makers on their side).
The focus of your solution isn’t product features or service capabilities. It’s about the critical challenges you solve for your customers.
This is why your pitch must begin with a story that highlights a big enough pain you help customers to alleviate—specifically customers in the same industry and market as your prospect.
“I still see so many reps lead a pitch with the features that they love,” observes Sophie Cameron, business development representative at CAKE. “While it’s great to see they have such passion and believe in what they’re selling, this doesn’t match the customer’s needs.
“So, start by figuring out their problems and pain-points, and tailor the pitch to those. Why did they decide to talk with you in the first place? Which features will help them achieve their goals? Getting the answers to these correct is what will really resonate with your prospect.”
A strong opener should focus on a critical change in the prospect’s industry, career or life that they must pay attention to. They should consider what you’re offering as a new, superior way of doing things. This is how you get your prospect’s attention, and it shows that you truly understand them, focusing on their needs rather than yours (making them a lead) is what compels them to keep listening. The role of presenting this change is twofold:
By focusing on a change, rather than just the problem alone, you‘ll create a sense of urgency and encourage prospects to share their thoughts on how this change will affect them. Immediately, you go from persuasion to collaboration. It’s a consultative selling approach that works to build a meaningful relationship with your prospects.
“For me, pitching is all about relationships! Building trust and being honest. Rather than focus on the product, focus on how the product can help the end user,” says Lewis Bruford, Sales Manager at haart.
Let’s say we wanted to do this when pitching Pipedrive:
By leading with the second option, we’re more likely to shift perspectives, or attract leads who believe in what we believe.
It’s easy to look at change with rose-tinted glasses. But without clearly framing the consequences for not taking action, you’ll struggle to close deals.
Explaining what is likely to happen if your prospect continues down the same road will get their attention and inspire them to take action.
This is where having third-party statistics can go a long way. It allows you to present a data-driven argument behind the pain-point your solution alleviates.
Another way to highlight the pain is to create a “villain” and position yourself as the hero who will battle against it.
This "villain" shouldn’t be a real person or a competitor, as that will come across as underhanded. Instead, it should represent old ways of doing things, legacy systems and forces that push against getting the desired result. Your product or service should be positioned as a more optimized, effective solution to whatever “villain” you’re choosing to point out.
Once you highlight the pain, it can be tempting to start pitching your product. But there’s an important step to handle before you start talking about your solution and its features.
While highlighting the pain will get your prospect’s attention, it’s not the most effective way to elicit action. They are likely still going to be hesitant to change, especially when it is costing them upfront. You must show them the upside of the challenge, and what they stand to gain if they enter the arena.
The “new way” you presented earlier has to yield results or an outcome that the prospect actually wants. But you must also position it as something that can only be achieved with help from the right people or organization: AKA you.
Remember, you’re pitching your vision here, not your product. The new way of doing things isn’t what your product or service is, but rather what life will look like once potential customers invest in it.
You’ve painted a picture of the core problem you solve, the change in the prospect’s world, why your prospect should pay attention and how they’ll benefit from this change if they take action.
Now, it’s finally time to present your product as the solution to these problems, and the path your prospect must take to reach the desired outcome.
There are two ways to do this, and it can be more effective to do both:
Use a features checklist, or even a data quadrant comparing your product with the old way of doing things, or your competition. You also might be able to use examples of how you’ve helped other clients as proof that your product or service is worth the investment.
Your product is the key to succeeding in the new world or defeating the villain. With the groundwork set, your product isn’t just a set of features; they act as superpowers for your prospect to succeed.
While we will be covering how to implement traditional sales principles into your pitch later, there’s a critical final piece to your story arc to explain first.
That piece is, of course, evidence. How can you back up your claims? How have you generated results in the past?
You could use the power of testimonials and case studies to demonstrate social proof as well as the results you’ve helped clients achieve.
This is your chance to present the other heroes of your story: your existing customers and prospective clients. Showcase how they’ve gained results by using your product or service, and how you helped them navigate the new world.
Having a framework to shape your narrative will allow you to connect with your prospects on a deeper level.
Now it’s time to shape that story into the different scenarios you’ll find yourself in the day-to-day.
You wouldn’t go into a full-scale sales presentation during a cold call, you need a concise, compelling opener that only lasts a minute or two. This is why it’s important to shape your story and value proposition for the different sales activities and environments you’ll find yourself in.
Here, we will explore five of the most common formats, with sales pitch examples, and how to use each opportunity to capitalize on attention.
Once you have the attention of a prospect, it’s the perfect opportunity to share your story with them.
But this doesn’t mean you should start your pitch as soon as you get connected! Keep in line with cold calling best practices by introducing yourself first.
Here’s a simple phone call script you can use to gauge your prospect’s interest (courtesy of Jessica Magoch, CEO of JPM Partners):
Hi, this is Jess from JPM. How are you? We’re working on some solutions to help you recruit and train a new generation of salespeople. Is that something you’d like to hear more about?
If they say yes, then it’s the perfect time to lead with your narrative. Here’s how to frame your story using a proven cold calling framework:
Here’s an example of how you might put these steps together in your own pitch:
Hi [NAME], this is James calling from Pipedrive. I’m calling because I noticed you recently secured a new round of funding and, as expanding the growth of [COMPANY] might be a priority now, you might be interested in how we’re helping salespeople achieve better results through a new way of selling. Would you like to hear more?
If they say yes, continue:
Great! We’ve noticed that when salespeople focus more on the right activities, instead of worrying about hitting quotas, they end up reaching those numbers faster while working in a more efficient manner.
This is why, at Pipedrive, we’ve created a CRM that focuses on activity-based sales, a new way of selling that empowers reps to do their best work and become better salespeople. In fact, we’ve recently helped [BRAND] generate [RESULT] through our solution.
If this is of interest, I’d love to share more about this new way of selling, and how it would benefit your revenue goals at [COMPANY]. Shall we schedule a call in the calendar sometime over the next week or so?
Here, we’ve touched upon the old way of doing things (measuring salespeople on quota) and presented a new way of doing things (activity-based selling). We also touched upon the superpower we provide and the results we’ve generated.
While it doesn’t give all the details, it’s enough for the prospect to decide whether or not to take the next step, because they have a general idea of what you have to offer their business.
Just like cold calling, your email outreach needs to be succinct and get to the point quickly.
According to Boomerang, the sweet spot for email length is between 50-125 words. Furthermore, they discovered that a 25-word email is as effective as one with 2,000 words.
Here’s a simple framework you can use to write your cold email pitches:
Again, using Pipedrive as an example, here are these elements in play:
First of all, congratulations on your new round of funding with [INVESTOR]! I expect growth is going to be a high priority for you now, so thought you might find this of interest.
We help SaaS companies like yours move away from the old quota-driven way of selling and empower salespeople to get better results with activity-based selling. Using our CRM system, we’ve seen [CLIENT] generate [RESULT] using this activity-based selling approach.
I’d love to share more about this during a quick call sometime over the next week or so. Is this of interest?
Excluding the greeting and sign-off, this email runs in at 95 words. It lightly touches on the most important aspects and, most importantly, talks about results that greatly benefit the customer.
From LinkedIn to Twitter, your buyers are now active on and can be reached through social media. They’re the perfect platforms to connect and share your narrative with them.
The two fundamental approaches to social selling are:
For the sake of this guide, we’ll focus on the former. Let’s dig deeper into some of the most common social selling outreach methods:
For LinkedIn invites and Tweets, you have a limited number of characters to play with. You’ll need to get creative here when presenting your pitch. In some cases, it’s best to focus on one element of your narrative.
Here’s an example of a LinkedIn connection invite which focuses on results:
Hi NAME, congrats on the latest round of funding! We’ve just helped [COMPANY IN PROSPECT’S INDUSTRY/MARKET] generate [RESULT] and thought you might be interested in learning how we did it. - [YOUR NAME]
Whichever aspect of your sales narrative you choose, use it to pique interest and get the initial response. You can then lead the conversation and nurture the lead from there.
The elevator pitch is typically what you use at networking events, or when meeting someone in your industry for the first time. Think about it as something you could easily convey to someone you’re sharing a short elevator ride with.
It’s a simple way of sharing your solution in 30 seconds or less. Use it to differentiate yourself from other people in the room using your narrative-driven sales pitch.
Be sure to practice your elevator pitch before going out into the field. Test it on a colleague and ask them for their feedback, or work as a team to refine one that you all use.
You may be looking at the list of sales pitch formats above and wondering, “what about the trusty sales presentation?”
This is the most common and, arguably, the most complex type of sales pitch. It’s the sort that requires 30 to 60 minutes’ worth of time, careful consideration, preparation and testing. Which is why we’ve dedicated two entire sections of this guide to it.
Here, you’ll learn how to structure your sales pitch into a deck that keeps your prospects engaged. Using the storytelling principles we covered earlier, you’ll be closing more deals in no time.
Just as personalization is key during your prospecting and verbal communications, it’s also well worth applying to your pitch decks.
Even a simple touch, such as applying prospect brand colors, can go a long way. But your sales presentation should never be fully recycled for multiple clients, because each client has different pain points and different needs. You can invest the time to customize sales presentations, because they’re likely presented deeper into the relationship with a client; they already have heard the elevator pitch at this point, or they came to you and expressed that they want to learn more.
Customization should also be applied to the challenges of your prospect. This is especially effective if you serve different industries, as each will have their own set of problems and goals.
Many salespeople make the mistake of being too “text-heavy” with their sales decks. By applying too much copy to your slides, you risk making information difficult to assimilate and losing your prospect’s attention.
Therefore, use minimal text and visualize as many elements as possible—especially stats and data. If you need to go into more detail, write yourself a script so you can talk around the stats.
You should be able to talk about your product as much as your customer is interested, but everything doesn’t need to be shown physically in your deck, or else it will be too hard to follow.
If the story of your brand is relevant to the problem you solve, don’t be afraid to share its history with your prospects.
This is the short version of our story: Pipedrive’s founder, Timo Rein, started out as a salesperson who wanted a better CRM to become more efficient in his job. Instead of waiting for it to come along, he decided to bring his vision to life.
Just make sure that you relate aspects of your story to the challenge your prospect faces and how you can help them tackle it.
While your backstory isn’t hugely persuasive, it can be an important step to adding context and building a connection with your prospect. Here’s our sales training video on how to tell your company story in a sales call.
While humor can be a tricky thing to execute, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine. If it aligns with your brand and is well received by your buyer personas, humor can be an effective way to connect with your prospects. It makes customer relationships feel more natural and friendly, which in turn makes you more trustworthy to your customer.
For example, injecting memes, puns or cultural references can go a long way. To advertise their new shop on Broadway, Casper created theatre-style posters, full of puns and joke reviews, to emphasize how comfortable their mattresses are, which also adds a level of customization to a pitch or marketing strategy:
You will generally have a limited amount of time to make your pitch, so you have to be succinct. After all, there’s a lot to include. You have to:
Being concise allows you to uncover your prospect’s needs before you share your deck. It also means you’ll have plenty of time to handle any objections that get in the way.
Once you’ve put your deck together, look through the slides and remove anything that isn’t critical at this stage of the relationship (doesn’t mean it won’t be later, but you don’t want to overload your lead with information). At the very least, find slides that can be merged together to make a single point.
If you’ve nailed your 30-minute pitch, but a prospect only gives you 15 minutes, try to book another time—your pitch can only be effective if you give it the time that it deserves.
If there are other stakeholders involved in the buying process, it’s likely the prospect who attends your presentation will want a copy of the slides.
This is where having two versions of your deck can help with internal communications. The first version should only include text that guides the conversation. This includes sub-headings, data and short bullet points.
The second version is for your prospect’s internal use. Here, you can expand upon the points raised in each slide and add more information that wouldn’t have otherwise fit into the allotted time, or would have distracted from the key message.
Putting together the content for your sales pitch is one challenge. But having the ability to deliver it in a clear, confident manner requires practice—especially for new salespeople.
This section provides advice for managers to consider including in their training material.
For the SDRs and sales reps out there, you can use this as a checklist to improve your verbal selling skills and deliver your pitches with confidence.
Before jumping on the call, make sure you conduct as much research on your prospect as possible. This includes:
Conducting this preparation beforehand will help you build rapport once you jump on a call or meet the prospect in person. It will also help you ask the right questions before jumping into your sales pitch.
“It’s important to understand who it is that you are trying to sell to from a personal level—not just their title and the company they work for,” explains Jack Scarr, Sales Manager at Netmums.
“If you can do some light research and find out that they listen to a certain music artist, support a football team or favor a certain type of cuisine, inclusion of this in your pitch can reduce the time it takes to get their unrivaled attention exponentially.
“They’ll see that you have taken an interest in them as a person, not just their title and access to budgets.”
In other words; get to the point. Don’t use overly technical language unless you know your prospect will understand it—there’s no point if your sales pitch ideas aren’t clear. If you must use technical language, define the meaning and explain why it’s important. Keep in mind, in some cases using technical language is a good thing, because it shows that you understand the industry or field.
Try to avoid stumbling over your words or saying “um” between your words. This is where practicing with a colleague can help, as they’ll point out when you’re meandering away from the purpose of the pitch.
You should also practice talking slowly and talking less. Talk slowly because it shows that you’re more calm and confident, and gives your prospect more of a chance to take in what you say; talk less because reps are proven to have a higher closing rate if their prospect does more of the talking and they do the listening.
If you’re giving a demo for your SaaS product, the first five to ten minutes of the conversation are critical. This will allow you to ask questions around the prospect’s primary goals and challenges.
Once you uncover these challenges, you can tailor the demo to focus on the features that the prospect would benefit the most from. It can be tempting to run through your entire suite of features. But while you may see the value in everything your solution has to offer, your prospect might not agree.
By doing this, you tie the features and solutions of your product directly to what they’re trying to achieve. As you wrap up each feature, use phrases like “by using [FEATURE], you’ll be able to achieve [OUTCOME] and solve [PAIN POINT].”
Pitching your solution in person? Be sure to practice strong body language while you rehearse your pitch. This will help you both appear and feel more confident.
Here are some basic ways you can improve your body language:
Chances are, you’re going to receive several questions and objections during your sales pitch. If you’re not ready for them, you may appear unsure of yourself, and your prospect could lose confidence in your expertise.
This is why collecting a library of common sales objections is invaluable to the process of strategizing your sales pitch. When you know how to handle objections quickly, you’ll appear more credible to the prospect, and they’ll feel like they’re in the hands of a professional.
“Ask yourself the toughest questions,” recommends Jack. “The biggest part of a sales pitch is after you’ve finished talking about yourself as a person or the brand you represent; it’s when the questions start.
“Preparing for those questions can be the difference between a successful pitch and losing business. So, before you get to that stage, read your pitch and prepare answers to questions you might be asked.”
Make objection handling a core part of your sales training. Whenever you hear a new objection, make a note of it (as well as your response) to share with the rest of the team.
For more sales pitch ideas, check out our tool featuring the experts’ responses to common sales objections, and our videos on how to tackle the following objections:
Finally, take the age-old advice of “always be closing” (ABC) to heart (while remembering that the journey to close is where the important work is done). By the end of your sales pitch, your prospect should be ready to take the next step in doing business with you.
This might be for them to trial your software, or for you to send a proposal and schedule a follow-up meeting. Whatever it is, lead your prospect to it. Make them feel like they’re in good hands by taking charge at every step of the conversation.
A good sales narrative not only keeps your ideal prospects engaged, but it persuades them to follow along with the journey. If they believe in what you believe, and you can present a better way of doing things, it’s more likely you’ll secure them as a customer for life.
But this can only work if the entire organization is aligned with this story. Indeed, this story and “reason why” should be present in your marketing, customer service processes and the solution itself.
Communicate a better way of doing things, and show your prospects how they can drive results with the superpowers that you can give them. This is the key to crafting a sales pitch that inspires awe.
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