How to Write a Sales Pitch that Packs a Punch
Hate writing sales pitches? You’re not alone. After a few years of pitch-avoidance I’ve recently been trying to improve my written pitching skills (unfortunately there are no excuses for mediocre sales letters when you’re a copywriter) and thought I would share a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the last few weeks.
Whether you’re in the running for a major multi-million dollar contract or you’re on Air Tasker nervously trying to get your first client the principle of pitching is basically the same whether it’s a written pitch or a verbal pitch.
Here are a few guidelines to help you polish up your pitches and (hopefully!) get results.
Before you start writing
Research is a big part of writing outstanding sales pitches. Before you even type your first word you need to think about who you are pitching to and what their needs are. You also need to be clear about what you offer and how you can help the people you're pitching to.
Who should you be pitching to?
It’s important that you target your pitches to each individual client but it’s just as important that you target your potential clients carefully. To be convincing you need to stay true to the ethos of your brand and this means pitching to people who are looking specifically for what you offer.
If you’re happiest taking time and producing work of the highest quality, don’t pitch to clients who obviously want someone cheap and fast. Even if you get the work, you will get frustrated and the client, and the work won’t be a good fit.
Likewise, if you are a bash it out quickly and move on to the next-bring-on-the-volume-near-enough-is-good-enough type person, you’re best off avoiding the high end boutiquey type clients. Chances are their nit-picking and obsession with details will drive you quickly insane.
What does your target need?
If you haven’t done this already, think about what clients purchase your products or services and why. What are their main headaches and how do you relieve them?
When you are identifying your target’s needs, make sure you scratch below the surface. Maybe they say they are looking for an accountant but what is it they really want? On a surface level they want someone to do their books for them but there is a more complex reason underneath. Maybe they are:
Busy and want someone who can free up their time
Shocking with numbers and want someone to make sure 1+1 doesn't = 3.
Irritated with the hassle of reconciling invoices every month and want someone to take it off their hands so they can focus on other areas of their business.
Looking to streamline processes for the future so everything runs smoothly as their business grows.
Often it’s more than one reason and it may not be what you think. It might help to talk to your existing clients and find out why they hired you (this can be a very revealing exercise!).
Once you have worked out your potential client’s needs and how you can help them you are ready to write your pitch.
How to start
Always address a written pitch directly to the person you are writing to. A pitch is no place for blanket phrases like ‘to whom it may concern,’ or ‘dear sir.’ Make it clear you’ve done your homework and find out exactly who you need to address your pitch to (and spell their name correctly).
A pitch should be like a conversation. The days of talking at prospects are long gone. What’s the best way to start a conversation with someone? Ask a question.
Starting with a question immediately takes the focus off you and puts the focus on the person you are pitching to. It also opens up a dialogue. Make sure the question is targeted in a laser-like manner to the needs of the potential client or customer, for example, “Are accounting mistakes costing your business money?”
Introduce yourself. After the initial question you should introduce yourself. This is no time to run through your resume, the introduction should be brief and to the point, e.g. “I’m John Smith, founder of Awesome Accountants – a quick and accurate bookkeeping service for small businesses.”
The main body of the pitch
Once the introductions are out of the way you can get to the main crux of your pitch. Sales pitches are fairly informal in nature so avoid being too wordy. Try to make it easy to read with short sentences, headings and small paragraphs.
Spewing out your bio on paper and delivering a list of reasons why you or your particular product is awesome isn’t likely to get you very far when it comes to pitching these days.
Clients don’t want to know about you, they want to know what you can do for them and that largely means listening to what they are looking for and telling them how you can help. Remember – you aren’t selling them your expertise or your product, you’re selling the benefits. Keep it focused and to the point.
The person reading your pitch is probably busy and may not have time to read through pages and pages of information. As a rule, one typed sheet or a computer screen is the maximum length for a sales pitch.
The call to action
Once you’ve written the main body of your pitch, you need to finish with a call to action. A call to action is a statement that tells your reader what you want them to do next. This can be anything from calling for more information, visiting your site, filling out an order form or agreeing to meet you for chat.
Writing a compelling sales pitch may take some time and effort but once you get a pitch that works you can keep it as a template for the future. Save it and keep it on hand and you can probably get away with tweaking it for each pitch you do in the future rather than having to write a whole new one from scratch.
Do you have any tips for writing sales pitches? Share them in the comments below.