Antomy Of sales Pitch
Allow me to cut this open on a very macro level. Over the past year, I’ve been involved in many new business deals. Both for my own consultancy and also riding along side new business deals with my clients Business Development Directors and their Executive team. Here’s a quick synopsis of what I’ve seen fail and what I’ve seen work during the pursuit of new business opportunities.
When firms pitch for new business or look to “move” their prospects towards making a purchase, the typical sales pitch tends to follow a linear path as shown below:
One reason for this is because people don’t invest in businesses they invest in stories about businesses. The challenge with this sequential pattern of mini stories, beside the fact that business development is not linear, is that the expected outcome is premature at the 20-minute deck stage. Before I tell you why, here’s some more background.
Linear Pitch Flow:
High Concept Pitch
This is usually a one-sentence or one-word introduction. It describes the company’s vision in a single work or phrase. The HCP is the beginning of the conversation, not the end. It’s meant to capture some attention in order to tell the rest of your story.
YouTube = Flickr for Video
David Cowan from Bessemer (investors in Skype) has a great quote: “The elevator pitch forms everyone’s first impression of your venture. It needn’t be a single sentence, but the delivery ought to be measured in seconds, not minutes — like any good TV or radio commercial.”
The elevator pitch (again on a macro level) usually follows a Why, How, What in very Sinek-ian fashion.
Why: Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently
How: The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly
What: We just happen to make good computers, want to buy one?
This is essentially a presentation that provides more details about your business.
Reid Hoffman recently posted LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch Deck to Greylock. For more, check out Pitchenvy for a database of real life startup pitch decks.
WHY YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG
The problem I’ve seen is that most clients expect to see a final outcome after they have systematically guided the prospect through this path. Proposals are sent over, briefs are completed, or evaluation plans are presented. Even if you have managed to get a group of stakeholders into a boardroom for a 20-minute deck presentation (congratulations by the way, this is no small feat to overlook), you still haven’t managed to “move” your prospects towards buying something they need. You’re merely exchanging a generalized idealistic vision for a premature outcome.
The real sales process begins after you’ve built up a sufficient level of credibility and value. This now allows you to engage in a candid, collaborative, strategic conversation necessary to help solve your prospects deep symptom level problems. I’m not saying you need to give your thinking away for free, what I’m talking about is helping to bring higher value insights to your prospects explicit needs, based on your expertise in solving similar problems.
This takes collaboration from a large number of players. Not only players from the prospects team but also players from your team, to validate that you have the right team to deliver on your vision.
Side Thought: This is hard work for one solo BD hustler.
Here’s how it looks
The goal of this “moving” phase is for both parties to make the necessary concessions through win/win negotiations in order to achieve a viable, desirable, feasible and sustainable solution for everyone. This will most likely take up a large percentage of your time during the sales cycle. So understanding how to navigate this landscape will be essential to increasing your new business opportunity to win ratio.