Telling others all the good things about your small business should be easy, right?
No one understands what your brand has to offer better than you do. You put in the hard work to build something special, and you’re proud of how far you’ve come. So, why is it difficult to channel that confidence when it’s time to pitch your small business to clients?
For a lot of business owners, pitching feels like a cross between bragging and begging.
“I’m an expert at getting results! My product is great! Please buy it now!”
If self-promotion makes you uncomfortable, it’s time to change the way you view small business pitching. A good sales pitch doesn’t involve badgering or bothering people.
All customers have needs and problems that are unresolved. When you reach out to customers, you’re making it faster and simpler for them to find the right solutions.
Like all skills, being a successful salesperson takes practice. Overcome your fears by training yourself to craft strong sales pitches and land new clients.
Know your audience
Ever wonder why so many people hate selling? A sales pitch comes across like a con game when you pursue customers who aren’t really interested in your product. Always remember your business has value to the right people.
Make the effort to identify clients who can genuinely benefit from your services. Try to understand what matters to different people and how they do business. If you target compatible customers, it will be easier to work up a calm, conversational tone in sales pitches.
Use research to tailor your pitches
Don’t make the mistake of using a standard sales pitch for every client. Most people and business owners share information about themselves online, so it’s unacceptable to skip doing research.
Use websites, social media, and other business resources to gather information that can help you relate to clients. Think about which details are most useful for pitching B2C or B2B clients. For example:
- Where do they spend time online?
- What do they like and share online?
- How do they interact with other people?
- What industry events do they attend?
- How do they prefer to communicate?
- What recent developments or obstacles are they dealing with?
- What recent client accomplishments are worth mentioning?
Time is limited when you need to establish a connection fast. Look for a way to make clients feel comfortable right from the start. That way, clients are more likely to have an open mind and be receptive to your message.
Identify the client’s biggest challenges
In a live pitch, you want to get clients talking and play off their responses. Encouraging people to open up about their challenges is a smart method to get clients invested early on. Ask yourself:
- What problems do clients face on a daily basis?
- What is the client’s ideal product experience?
- How is the client currently handling the problem?
- What are the gaps in the client’s current product solution?
- What common objections stop clients from trying something new?
By leaving things open-ended, your presentations will sound authentic and put clients at ease. However, it also means you can’t prepare for every single beat in the conversation. That’s okay.
Prepare as much as possible to address the client’s core problems. Then, you can build a natural rapport that will help you stay on track during the impromptu moments.
Find common ground with your client
Start your pitch by finding some common ground. Imagine pitching your services as a virtual assistant. Most of your clients will be overworked small business owners who struggle to wear many hats and meet deadlines.
Find a way to enter your client’s world. A good technique is to ask a question or complement what your client is already doing. Speak plainly, and avoid jargon that will bore or confuse your audience. Check out this quick example.
Seller: I recently saw your display at the XYZ Furniture Expo, and your hand-carved dining room tables were incredible. How long does it usually take you to make a bespoke piece that large?
Client: From the design to the finishing stage, a large table could take me anywhere from two weeks to well over a month. I’m juggling a lot of things at once, so I take my time trying to get every piece just right.
Seller: That makes sense. If you had extra help dealing with the client side of things, you could focus on the creative side more.
Client: Exactly. Since my tables are all custom-made, there’s a lot of back and forth with the clients. It doesn’t leave as much time as I’d like for other stuff, like promotion. That’s why I work a lot of long hours right now.
When you show interest in your client, you don’t have to be pushy or oversell your services. Let clients talk, and use follow-up questions to get a full picture of their needs.
Build anticipation for a solution
No matter what type of client you’re pitching, the #1 concern is always the same. What are your services worth? What tangible benefits do clients gain from hiring you?
A good pitch offers specific, quantifiable information — not vague promises. How do you accomplish this? You can do one or all of the following:
- Show a live demo of your service and how it solves the problem.
- Tell a story, or provide an example of a previous client you helped.
- Provide relevant samples from your portfolio.
- Share specializations that make you particularly suited for the client.
Personalize your approach to fit the situation. A live demo is great for a physical product, while portfolios are better for projects that are difficult to display.
Create a call-to-action
Use everything you’ve learned from your exchange to create a call-to-action. Be prepared to respond to objections in a respectful manner. Let’s go back to our previous example of a virtual assistant.
Seller: Have you ever thought about hiring an assistant to deal with client-related tasks?
Client: I’ve thought about it, but I’m not sure it’s the best use of my budget right now. I’d rather wait until my business grows to hire an assistant.
Seller: Funny you should say that. A good assistant can help your business grow faster and more than make up for the cost. In fact, I recently helped an interior decorator get six months worth of bookings.
She was running her business all by herself and having a lot of cash flow problems. I helped her improve her billing system to create a stable income stream. She was able to hire two more people.
Client: Oh really? Are you a virtual assistant?
Seller: Yes, and I also specialize in customer acquisition and social media management. I really love helping small business owners transform their passions into a career. If you’re serious about growing your business, let’s talk more about how you can reach your goals.
Once the client is clearly hooked, why not offer references to back up your claims? Past customers are the best ambassadors for your business, and they can drive home the points from your pitch.
Don’t assume the client’s answer is “no” if you don’t get an immediate “yes.” When you’re working with small business owners, they don’t have to answer to anyone else. However, consumers and larger businesses often have to discuss buying decisions with other people.
When possible, try to make sure a key decision-maker is present from the beginning. Otherwise, ask your contact person exactly what you can do to accommodate the decision-maker.
Keep improving your pitching skills
Like it or not, learning how to pitch your small business is something every entrepreneur has to do. The more you practice public speaking and storytelling, the easier it is to connect with clients. The most important thing is to get better at listening. You can’t persuade people until you know what motivates them to spend money.
A great sales pitch demonstrates the impact of taking action. You have to show clients you’re an expert, not just tell them. To make that happen, you need to be confident and well prepared to answer questions. Do as much prep work as possible to increase your chances of leaving with a sale.
When you give a pitch, make sure you’re prepared to share your contact information with custom business cards.