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5 Steps to Creating Effective Sales Pitches and Avoiding the “Canned” Ones

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5 Steps to Creating Effective Sales Pitches and Avoiding the “Canned” Ones

“We’re in an outreach pandemic where the secret to real connection is a framework you can dance within vs. a canned sales pitch—whether it be on LinkedIn, email the phone or text,” says Bernadette McClelland, a sales leadership speaker and CEO of 3 Red Folders. “Real connection takes work. However, it doesn't take much to find a snippet of commonality and qualify your potential client, before you start a product, business or person related conversation.” But why doesn’t a “prepared pitch” work anymore?

"The reality of sales is that customers are generally impatient, busy and expecting solutions yesterday. With that in mind, they can smell a script that isn’t unique to them a mile away. If they’re the business owner, they’re bombarded with sales pitches every day and are numb to them."
Aileen Day, CEO of Aileen Day Advisory

Here Are 4 Reasons Your Canned Sales Pitch Won’t Work

These days, people are attuned to an impersonal sales pitch, so if you’re spamming everyone’s inbox with a generic message, you’ll bound to get ignored or blocked, for one of these reasons.

1. Your pitch doesn’t allow you to know the unique needs of the person or business in front of you.

This can be a major turnoff to a buyer who gets hundreds of pitches a week. “The challenge with a script is that sales communication is real-time and variable,” says Doug C. Brown, CEO at CEO Sales Strategies.

Brown says the only time a “one-size fits all” sales statement works, is if it's targeted to the right audience. Geico's slogan is a good example of this: "Would you invest 15 minutes to save 15% on your car insurance?" Cold outreach can still work today, Brown notes, but they must be humanized, relevant, and meaningful communication tailored to the company and person you want to reach. Otherwise, your message will be commoditized.

"Some point-of-sales scripts can be relevant to use as an outline for points to hit in a conversation,” he says.

2. Your potential customer wants to have a conversation and ask questions.

Most business owners realize the need for a relationship with other businesses. And the only way to get to know someone is to actually have a conversation, not read from a script.

“We're having strategic conversations where we tailor our value proposition to each customer's needs,” says Josh Appelbaum, formerly of Hit Promotional Products and newly appointed vice president of Digital Transformation at Vantage Apparel. “That’s having an understanding of what our capabilities and capacities are and using them within meaningful conversations with our customers to meet their goals.”

3. Your personal story or reason why your shop’s products and services are the best, doesn’t connect to the person you’re talking to.

They don’t care (as much) about you as you think they do. “Keeping that communication focused on the outcomes your prospect wants should always be top priority,” McClelland says. “That also means respecting their time.”

4. Your prospect has to make the pitch fit their needs.

They want to know how you can help them achieve their big goal or solve a big problem. But if you’re reading from a script, they find themselves doing the work you should do during the sales conversation.

“If you haven’t minimized any potential objections (they may have about doing business with you), then you haven’t gained their trust. You can’t ask for their business if you haven’t gained their trust.”
Bernadette McClelland, Sales Leadership Speaker and CEO of 3 Red Folders

5 Steps to Creating Effective Tailor-Made Sales Pitches


1. First, remember that your product or service isn’t for everyone.

Ideally, before you set up a chat or a meeting with a potential customer, you’ve already identified they’re likely a good candidate to benefit from your shop’s products and services. It’s important to do your research here to qualify your prospects as likely buyers. Ask yourself what these businesses need to have in place to afford your offer and, also benefit from it now.

“Prepare a customer persona map of each of your customer types. That will give you a deeper understanding of who your customer is as a human and a professional, not as just another inanimate sale.”
Aileen Day, CEO of Aileen Day Advisory

“In a map, you want to understand various factors such as who they are in and out of work, what type of personality they have, what they do for fun, what values they hold, how often they’d need you, where else and what else they spend their money on and so on," Day says.

2. Establish a real relationship.

For your shop to be the primary or exclusive partner in this client's decorated-apparel or online store’s needs, you’ll need to establish early on that you’re indeed partnering with them. Share with them that you have the best products, the best artwork and decorating services, and you can offer expertise in how your customer can get the most bang for their branding buck. 

You can’t establish a relationship if all you do is take orders and fulfill them based on “instructions” from the customer. You want to offer expert suggestions and expand their orders based on what you know could really benefit their brand.

“Often, I see organizations pitching to cold customers without knowing a thing about them,” Day says. “If you can’t find the information, such as who’s the decision-maker, what they refer to their team as, where they’re located, how many employees they have, or what their organization’s purpose is, call them and ask. They’ll appreciate your effort and energy being placed in a way that shows them you value them as a group of people, not just another sale.”

Try This: If you’ve already sold to a customer once or twice, but are invested in creating a loyal relationship with them, Day recommends asking if you can come meet their team, see their workplace, understand what they do better and learn more about serving their needs. “This can also work wonderfully on the flip side, when you invite your customer to visit your shop,” she says. “It’s a wonderful builder of trust through transparency. How many shops can say they have that?”

3. Use storytelling.

It’s so much easier to understand abstract and complex ideas when it’s presented to you through storytelling. You can mix facts with a narrative that conveys outcomes and feelings you want your customer to receive because of how you help them achieve their goal or solve a problem. 

To do that effectively, McClelland recommends learning about your prospect’s main goal or problem and using “future pacing” to show them how your solution can help them achieve a goal or relieve an issue. 

If you’re not familiar with the term, “future pacing” is basically talking to someone in a way that helps them vividly imagine what the outcome will be if, in this case, they use your services. It helps them understand how your guidance will get them to the promised land.

“Stories with your client as the hero are the quickest way to bypass human rational reasoning—the area of the brain where rejections and objections occur—and get straight to the real decision-maker - emotions.”
- Bernadette McClelland, Sales Leadership Speaker and CEO of 3 Red Folders

You can use this format in a talk, an email, a DM, in marketing collateral and so on. Show your prospect what their situation will look like if they hire you and if they don’t. If they get involved in the story, and feel emotions, they’ll be more engaged and more likely to say yes, rather than, “I’ll get back to you.” It’s also a good idea to use testimonials from existing customers speaking on how well you helped solved their problems and provided excellent service

4. Solving your customer’s problems is the new “overcoming objections.” 

By talking to your customer, you’ll find out what they need help with. Then, give them advice and provide solutions that can solve that problem. 

“The only way to get there is to ask questions,” Applebaum says. “Get down to why somebody exists in their product category segment, why they're in business and why they're having a conversation with you about their business. This is how I talk to customers. That's the only way to get to a value proposition that works for that unique individual.”

5. Just ask for the sale.

We’re a call-to-action society. If you don’t tell someone what you want from them, they won’t do it. If you’ve spent time talking with a potential customer, only to wrap up the discussion and wish them well, you’ve lost a sale and likely a business relationship. 

End every meeting with a potential customer asking for the sale. Practice making it feel more natural and comfortable for you. This is what it takes to make the sale a reality. 

So, what does this look like? It’s not a hard push. Instead, it looks something like this:

  1. Tell the prospect you’d be happy to work with them.
  2. Ask them if they’d like a special priced run to demonstrate the way you work and the quality products you use.
  3. Collect their contact info and ask to follow up in a week.
  4. Offer to answer any questions or concerns they may have.
  5. Ask if there’s any reason they wouldn’t want to work with you.

The truth of it is that the people you’re meeting want to solve a problem. They’re looking to your shop for help. They want to know that you want their business and are asking for it.

Personalize Your Pitch and Create Real Relationships

You don’t need to use a canned sales pitch to gain sales and business. But you do need to be prepared to present your sales pitch using personalization and problem-solving.

“The advice I’d offer to any distributor or decorator salesperson out there, is to spend more time getting to know your customers,” Applebaum says. “The canned approach, now more than ever, is irrelevant. No matter how great you think your solutions might be, if they're not relevant to your prospect, it doesn't matter. That’s where you need to really hammer away at the details of what your customers need from you and then tailor your programs and offerings around that.”

n a world saturated with sales pitches, it should surprise no one that one-size-fits-all sales scripts, cold emails or DM conversations just don’t work – and can actually turn people off. That’s not to say many people still don’t try the easy way.

Mar 30, 2022