4.1b Making Sales Seminar Reserve

There is always going to be a point in your career, that you will need to sell something; sell a product, sell an idea, or sell yourself to someone else. It’s a vital skill to learn, and one way to do this is to practice your sales pitching.

A really good way to do this well is to follow the below points:

  • Identify your goal.
  • Explain what you do.
  • Communicate your USP.
  • Engage with a question.
  • Put it all together.
  • Practice.

A strong sales pitch must deliver the desired message succinctly and persuasively. If the sales pitch is on point, you are on the right path to winning over your audience.

The first five minutes of a discussion sets the tone for the rest of the conversation, so it’s important that your message and personality really come across as intended right from the start.

Depending on which study you concentrate on, it takes less than 30 seconds for individuals to form a first impression, and this is the same whether its personal or professional. Importantly, personal and professional impressions are more often than not intrinsically linked, you may have heard the adage ‘people do business with people they like’ before, and it’s very true. That’s not to say that all you have to do is befriend someone and everything will fall into place for you, but it is part of inherent human behaviour for us to gravitate towards other people we trust, respect, or admire, or just generally feel more comfortable with. For this reason, it’s Important to try and build rapport with new contacts from the first meeting.

There’s a lot of debate surrounding fool-proof tactics and techniques to get strangers to feel instantly very comfortable with you, and you can research and go on that journey if you feel you need to, but ultimately the best way to build a working relationship with anyone is to just be optimistic, genuine and authentic. Listen with sincerity, interact cheerfully and politely, don’t try to be something you’re not, and pick up on the social cue’s they are giving off. You cannot be all things to all people, so there will undoubtedly be people who find that you are just not their cup of tea for whatever reason, so you won’t be able to instantly form a bond with some people. And that’s okay. Sometimes that is just the way people are, it’s not necessarily a problem with you or the other person, sometimes the dynamic just doesn’t mix well. Even so, there’s no reason you can’t have a harmonious working relationship with someone that you don’t connect with on a personal level.

A skill that you will have to get exceptionally good at throughout your career is what is referred to as Elevator Pitching. This is essentially just being able to speak around a topic, brand, person, project or idea for a short period of time in a way that really ‘sells it’ to whoever is listening. It is a sales pitch that is short, sharp and sweet.

Your elevator pitch should be succinct and to-the-point. You should be able to do this pitch in a variety of time periods, as there’s no standard exact time so depending on your location a pitch can be expected to be anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes.

How to make an impression

Keep it brief:

Your elevator pitch should include a brief summary of who you are and what you do. You do not need to disclose the whole history of what you are selling, so your entire work history or professional goals, or how your project or event was conceptualised unless it’s extremely short and relevant to the outcome. In terms of an introduction, it should arguably be the shortest part of the whole pitch.

Persuasion:

You will need to be persuasive. Even though it’s a short pitch, your speech should be compelling enough to spark the listener’s interest in your idea, project, or event. This is particularly important if you have a less-willing or non-captive audience and are hoping to get them onside. If you have a captive audience or an audience who are already interested in your project, that makes it a lot easier.

Humblebrag:

Explain your skills. Your elevator pitch should describe who and what your event are, as well as any awards, accolades or recommendations. Concentrate on assets that offer value in a variety of scenarios. This is your time to brag a little – don’t seem arrogant, but do express what you have to offer.

Rehearse:

It’s all about practice, practice, practice. The easiest approach to feel at ease when making an elevator speech is to rehearse it until the pace and “sell” come easily to you without sounding artificial. As you practice, you will become accustomed to being able to change the subject and going slightly off the cuff without relying on reciting it word-for-word. The more you rehearse, the more comfortable you’ll be delivering it in front a variety of people or mediums.

Keep it slow:

Don’t speak too fast. Whilst you only have a short time to convey a lot of information you should not try to overcome this by speaking quickly. This will only make it hard for listeners to absorb your message, and you will lose them in amongst the sound.

Be succinct:

Avoid rambling. This is why it’s so important to practice your elevator speech. While you don’t want to over-rehearse, and subsequently sound unnatural, you also don’t want to have unfocused or unclear sentences in your pitch. Give the person you’re talking to an opportunity to interject or respond. A few well-placed pauses can be just as powerful as noise, and where appropriate, you should always use a pause for affect if possible.

Mind your manners:

Avoid frowning or talking in a monotonous manner. One disadvantage of rehearsing is that it can cause you to focus more on memorising the precise phrases you want to say and less on how you conduct yourself. Maintain a high level of energy, confidence, and enthusiasm. Back to an earlier point about people working with individuals they like, even when giving a sales pitch that is as short as under 5 minutes, your personality will shine through. So it’s important to make sure that you are coming off as positive, trustworthy and likeable.

The best way to structure an elevator pitch:

Who are you/What does your company do:

Why are your audience listening to you/why should they be listening to you. You hear this part a lot in parodies of salesmen who say things like ‘my name is John Smith and boy do I have a deal of a life time for you, listen in everyone you won’t want to miss this’ etc. You should strive to not be that cheesy but get the point across that you have a specific objective in mind for giving this speech, whether that’s investment, brand attention, partnerships, or concessions.

Questions:

Asking questions of your audience, usually rhetorical, is a great way to get them thinking from the same starting point, and tee them up to your line of thinking. You can then lead them down a desired thought process. E.g ‘have you ever wondered why XYZ, or are you aware that 60% of people aged 25-40 are XYZ’ etc.

Empathise or Appeal:

Whilst you are ‘selling’ something to them, it might not always be in return for financial compensation, so you should always ensure you are speaking with their opinion/thoughts in mind, i.e being sympathetic or empathising with their position. This is often conveyed when people open a speech with something like ‘I know you’re all keen to get to lunch so I’ll keep this brief’, or ‘I understand first-hand the hardship of having an event you look forward to cancelled at the last minute’. It’s also a good place to appeal to a specific desire, trait, or experience of your audience. For example, if you are pitching to an event venue that is very focused on sustainability, you would focus a large portion of your pitch with that in mind. You want their ears to prick up, and be paying attention as soon as you say certain buzzwords.

Pivoting:

From there, you should ‘pivot’ and almost immediately insert what you/your event/project/produce does to solve that issue or alleviate the stress of whatever you have just asked them about. This is where you drive home the successes and benefits of you/your project/your event. You should be adding value with each sentence that comes under this section, it is where you ‘convert’ your audience from sceptics into believers.

Closing:

After all the good stuff has happened, you need to close efficiently. The worst thing you can do is taper off with a ‘…so yeah, that’s me I guess.’ It will instantly undo all the progress or good work you did in your pitch if you don’t end properly. It’s jarring and conveys the ideas that you don’t know your end game or what you want from your audience. An accepted way of closing is to bring it full circle. Wrap up the key points in a sentence or two and then you can round off in a number of ways. You can challenge your audience, extend an invitation to an event or meeting, offer some inspiration or motivational words, tell a poignant story, or ask an unusual or thought-provoking question.

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