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The seven secrets to pitching to new clients

Tuesday, 29 January 2013 | By Michelle Bowden

feature-pitching-thumbFrom the outset there are so many things to get your head around in a new business, from branding to stock control.


But a key skill you need to become brilliant at, and quickly, is pitching for business.


If you can fast-track your ability to bring new customers in the door and keep them as loyal clients you’ll be creating very strong foundations for your start-up business.


So what do you need to do to fast-track your pitching skills?


Here are my seven secrets to pitching to new clients:


1. Relationship


Business is all about the relationships you create and maintain.


Always remember it’s about the people doing business with people and learn to care about your potential client from the outset and make people feel good.


Famed US salesman Zig Ziglar said: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”


Listen when your client talks (never talk over the top of them), clarify where necessary so you really understand what they are asking you for, and present a solution that meets their needs.


So make sure you get your head right. If you go into a sales meeting wanting to ‘make money’ you’ll be barefoot on that pavement in no time!


It’s not about the money. It’s about finding solutions to people’s problems.


If you get this right in your head you’ll be selling ice to Eskimos in no time.


2. Brand


We all know the value of a positive first impression and never is this more important than when you meet potential clients for the first time.

Latest research by personal branding consultant Sally Hogshead suggests it takes only nine seconds to form a first impression and then a further 25 seconds to confirm that initial impression.


So it’s critical to do some serious thinking about how you are perceived by potential clients from your website, to your phone manner, to your collateral and brochures, to your personal presentation and your personality.


Once you’ve assessed your current impact it’s time to rethink any image issues that don’t make you an instant winner.


3. Believe


Confidence is very enticing to others. Make sure you know your product or services inside out and spend some time getting to know your client prior to arriving at the meeting.


Prepare your pitch in advance and practice, practice, practice. There’s nothing like knowing your stuff to make you feel confident and in control.


And while you’re at it, research your competitors too. The more you know about how you’re different to other providers, the more you’ll be able to improve on your comparative weaknesses and the more eloquent you’ll be when questioned by your potential client.


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4. Structure


When you get to the part of your meeting where you’ll explain how your product or service meets their needs, be sure to use McCarthy’s 4Mat model of learning.


Explain why your approach is best for them, what your solution looks like, how you will implement the solution and how it works and finish with a chance for them to question you.


5. Language


Never flinch when discussing your costs and don’t call them costs. Use a word like ‘investment’ which softens the sales process for everyone.


6. Rapport


We like people who are like ourselves – sadly, it’s true! The best way to build rapport or ‘sameness’ with your client is to ask questions that help you get to know your client and show how interested you are.


Don’t ever fake your personality; just bring out that part of you that matches with a part of them to create easier relationships.


7. Ask


Always, always, always ask for the sale. It’s true that most people recoil from the hard sell and in turn that can make us feel uncomfortable about asking for the business.


Remember your client is not a mind reader and just because you are there pitching doesn’t necessarily mean you really want the business.


Be explicit about what you want without pushing too hard and make sure your client knows that you are excited about the possibility to work with them.


For example, “I’d love to work with you, please give me your business.”


In a nutshell it’s all about planning and preparation so that once you’re in your meeting you don’t have to think too hard and you can just be yourself.


Happy pitching!


Michelle Bowden is a presentation expert and one of only 35 female Certified Speaking Professionals.

Michelle is the author of ‘How to Present: the ultimate guide to presenting your ideas and influencing people using techniques that actually work’. For further tips and techniques, go to www.michellebowden.com.au