15 Quick Tips To Make Your Pitches More Effective

  1. Only present your offer after summarising the client’s total situation and their requirements – and gaining their acceptance of your summary.
  2. Don’t present ideas in the offer for which the client can see no requirement.
  3. Know the offer inside out. Sound and detailed product/service knowledge gives confidence to make a good presentation. Skimpy knowledge makes for presentations which will reflect a lack of confidence. Such presentations will be subject to interruptions and objections. So, don’t present details of ideas that you do not understand. Get the people who are expert in their arena to present their part of the solution, possibly at a later date. Do not pretend that you know everything, the client does not expect that.
  4. Know your main competitors’ offerings. In particular know where you differentiate from the competition. “Me too” presentations are ineffective. Offering solutions that match what the competition have already offered means that you are not spending enough quality time understanding the client’s situation. Knowing your competition can also help you to pre-handle objections during the presentations.
  5. Practice and perfect a “standard” presentation for those services for which opportunities occur on a regular basis. Many presentations have parts where 85-90% are the same each time they have to be delivered. There is no reason or excuse for “making it up as you go along”. There is a “best” version of every concept presentation. Make sure that this is what is delivered to the client.
  6. Be prepared to tailor the last 10-15% of the presentation. Link the presentation to the client’s specific situation and requirements. Use the client’s words and figures.
  7. Use visual aids as “proof” to back up your words. Don’t rely on words to make a lasting impression. Research shows that words alone are easily forgotten.
  8. Consider carefully the best medium for the particular situation. Some options which can work well include:
    – Talking people through a document: be careful to keep control so they don’t flick through to the back page!
    – Gather around a laptop: good for one or two people, keeps intimacy and co-operative approach.
    – Use PowerPoint onto a screen: helps focus attention, creates control and a more formal approach. Be careful about “death by PowerPoint”. A good rule of thumb is to allow 2 minutes per slide. Don’t make your slides too busy.
    – Consider graphics not just words
    – Use a flip chart or white board: a very interactive approach which can show responsiveness and confidence.
    – Consider mixing these approaches
  9. Use positive, assumptive statements. Show confidence. e.g. “When you are using this service” and not “If you were to go ahead with our xyz service”.
  10. Make the presentation no longer than it needs to be. They will have a lot of questions. Give them a chance to ask them. Leave at least half your available time for questions. Decide in advance who should answer different types of questions.Plan your best answers to expected questions. Answer briefly and shut up (perhaps with a check “Does that answer your question?”). Other team members should resist the temptation to provide supplementary answers. Use the KISS principle in your presentations.
  11. Check your client’s understanding and acceptance of your presentation as you proceed. Don’t leave it until the end for the one big closing question. Try to get feedback as you go along.
  12. Make good eye contact with the client. We distrust people who have difficulty in maintaining eye contact. On the other hand don’t try to outstare the other person. This is intimidating. Use your client’s name regularly – but not ad nauseam. Ensure that your presentation is supported by positive body language. Listen and watch for “acceptance signals”.
  13. Focus on their issues and how you will make a difference by addressing them. Avoid the “company sell”. They want to know what it will “feel” like to work with you. Show them at least someone from the doing team. Give examples. Use phrases like “Our clients tell us”.
  14. Think about the language you use. Avoid jargon and TLAs (three letter acronyms). Use their terminology, not yours e.g. clients vs clients, shareholders vs investors. Make your language positive and robust. Avoid words and phrases like “hopefully”, “we will try”, “that’s not usually a problem”. Go for language like “Our clients tell us”, “I am confident that”, “substantial”, “significant”, “positive”, “measurable”.Some jargon words and possible replacements:
    – Not “quantum” or “quant” but “amount”
    – Not “deliverability” but “our ability to make this happen”
    Be tough on yourself with these kind of words. They make a difference!
  15. Remember to enjoy it!
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