How to increase your chances of success in your next pitch.

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By Caroline Hopkins

How do most clients choose which supplier to work with? 

This question is often put to buyers in industry surveys and the results reveal that what sways the buying decision is usually a combination of buying ‘criteria’ – such as track record, resources, value for money, ability to deliver on time/in budget – and ‘chemistry’, a feeling of mutual understanding and rapport, which is often the biggest factor of all.

So how can you enhance your success when pitching?  How can you be convince the buyer that your credentials and charisma are the right fit for them?

In my experience, it comes down to perspective: whose shoes are you wearing when you prepare your pitch? 

Most people go into a selling situation in their shoes: they have prepared the information they want to share about their organization, their history, their ideas, their people etc. etc.

Few people approach a sales pitch wearing another person’s shoes: the client’s.  And this can often be the key to winning the pitch.  By really getting across to the other side of the desk, sitting in the client’s position, wearing the client’s shoes and asking yourself “If I were them, what would I be looking for?  What would make an impression on me, what would speak most to me and what would convince me?”

There is a great expression in presenting which is “I don’t care what you think until I think that you care”.  Clients want to know that you care enough to understand them, their outcomes, their challenges and their aspirations – and until they get this, they are not really swung by the date your company was established or your number of employees.

And yet, this is how so many people approach their pitches – by leading with “All about us” rather than “We really get you”.

So to make your next sales pitch more compelling, a useful model is the ‘Perspectives Window’ a four-step process that I developed to help my clients get into the right ‘shoes’ to prepare for a pitch.

Here’s how it works.   Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle and across the middle to create 4 quadrants.

The top left quadrant is ‘Your Outcome’.  Here you write what you want to get from this pitch.  Your outcome may be to win the business or it could be to create a sales advance, in which case specify what you want that sales advance to be.  This will be your ‘Call To Action’ that you will include at the end of your pitch.

The top right quadrant is ‘Their Outcome’.  Here you need to get in the client’s shoes to consider what they most want from this pitch.  What will make this pitch a great result for them?  This is what you should refer to in your opening remarks.

The bottom right quadrant is ‘Their Interest’.  Having thought about their outcome, what are their hot buttons?  What are they most interested in finding out about from the pitch?  What are their likely concerns and challenges right now that may be causing them to worry?  Fill in your thoughts about these here.  This is what you will prioritise when deciding what to include and what to cover first, after your opening remarks.  You can reassure them of your credentials later on, once you have addressed their hot issues first.

Finally, the bottom left quadrant is where you focus on your passion or enthusiasm for this pitch.  Why do you care about helping them with this?  What about this pitch or the opportunity to work with this client most excites you?  Write this in here.  This will get you in the right state of enthusiasm to deliver your pitch with conviction and charisma.

The Perspectives Window forces you to maintain a win/win perspective towards your pitch – and by considering both your and the client’s point of view, you will be more likely to communicate your ideas in the context of their needs and interests with energy and enthusiasm for their success.

Try it next time you give a pitch and notice how shifting your perspective can make your pitch more memorable, more empathic and ultimately more successful.

Caroline Hopkins is a presentations coach who offers 1-to-1 coaching for sales pitches and runs training workshops in the North West of England.  Her clients include many brilliant presenters who were once nervous and rambling – until they learnt that effective pitching, like driving lessons, is a skill you learn so you can get somewhere.  For further tips and ideas go to www.lovepresenting.com

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