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Today, buyers are more informed than ever. One study revealed that customers spend 67% of their buying journey online, doing their own research and seeking advice. So there’s no need to pitch clients information they already know. But your sales pitch is still vital. It will likely be prospects’ first in-person encounter with your company, and a way to get specific answers they couldn’t find online. It’s also an opportunity for you to learn more about the prospect’s requirements, pain points, and expectations.

New salespeople often think pitching their product or service is what closes the deal. So they launch into a pitch that shows how their company is the best and how smart they are. All this does is cause prospects to put up their defenses. A good sales pitch is more about understanding prospects than pouncing on them. You need to do the prep work that makes you familiar enough with the prospect’s needs and desires to customize your presentation, instead of delivering a canned script. Here are some useful tips.

Prioritize and research your prospects.

Make sure you’re spending time on the right deals. Prioritize your leads by looking at the facts, not following your intuition. How many of the prospect’s needs can you meet, and how easily can you meet them? How big is the potential revenue stream? Do you have an inside track on landing the job? You also want to find the actual decision makers who have the power to approve the purchase. This might require building trust over time.

A great sales pitch resonates with prospects because it’s customized to them. You need to thoroughly research the consumer’s or company’s needs and desires, as well as a company’s makeup, industry, and competitors. In your initial contact, ask questions that will help tailor your message to prospect’s specific situation. Use your understanding of them to craft a concise message that highlights the features of your product or service that matter the most to them.

Tell them a story, then actively listen.

Your story should be about where they are today, and where they could be by hiring you. You want to get them to think differently, you want the story to inspire them to change. A storytelling approach differentiates you from other sellers who just pitch products and not value. It lets your message resonate with prospects’ hearts and minds.

Research revealed 78% of salespeople say soft skills like listening are essential to converting prospects. Listening uncovers your prospect’s key pain points so you can figure out the best way to help them. Ask “tell me about…” questions to get them to share their experiences. Aim to have the buyer do most of the talking. Keep checking in with them during the pitch to hear their views, then respond with thoughtful follow-up questions. This is critical to understanding their needs and closing the deal. Your pitch should feel less like a presentation, and more like a conversation about needs.

Share your solution.

Acknowledge the prospects’ problems and provide the solutions that speak to their unique challenges. Add real value here by giving them more than they can find on their own online. Hone your message in on the specific feature or features that benefit them the most. Give them insights from an experience you’ve had with another customer with a similar challenge. Demonstrate how you have their best interests at heart.

Overcome sales objections and propose next steps.

Sales objections commonly involve one of the following: budget, authority, need, and time (aka BANT). You don’t need detailed responses to all four but be ready to address any of them that come up. Show you understand the prospect’s concern and offer ways to surmount the hurdles.

End with a call to action that outlines next steps. Even if the prospect isn’t ready to buy, move the process forward with a follow-up meeting or trial. Proposing next steps is your responsibility. Failing to do so could result in ending a relationship before achieving your goal.

By the way, once you’ve closed the deal and gathered in another happy customer, don’t forget to ask for referrals. A customer who likes your product or service will typically be happy to help. This is important because referrals are more likely than other prospects to turn into closed sales.