Sales Pitch Presentation Mistakes
Pitching for new business is hard. Pitch presentations can be stressful, time-consuming, and complex. But even though sales pitches are never going to be fun for most people, they don’t have to be so bad. Avoid common sales pitch presentation mistakes and things can be a whole lot easier.
So, what are some of the common mistakes that presenters and bid managers make? What should you not do?
Ignore the prospect’s agenda and instructions. They won’t care if you talk about the things they ask about or not. If they are grappling with some difficult issues right now, they would probably rather you didn’t remind them.
Instead: make sure that you talk about the things you have been asked to address, and if the prospect is facing challenges, offer a solution to these challenges.
Only talk about the things that the prospect has asked about, so that your pitch presentation becomes indistinguishable from your competitors’. Don’t consider your competitive value proposition, and don’t think about whether you could map your competitive value proposition to the topics you have been asked to cover. Under no circumstances attempt to shape the prospect’s thinking in a new way to match your USPs.
Instead: don’t be afraid to try and shape the agenda. If your story flows in a certain way, tell it that way and spell out for the prospect how you are covering the items you have been asked to address. If you think the prospect would benefit from seeing the issues in a different way, attempt to change their thinking.
List all the reasons why the prospect might possibly want to choose you. The more the better. Make sure that you have so many arguments that each member of the pitch evaluation team will remember something completely different. That way, when the decision-makers sit down to discuss your pitch, they won’t be able to agree on what you offer.
Instead: structure your presentation with a clear and memorable value proposition. Five items is memorable, any more might not be.
RFP and Pitch Presentation
Use the pitch presentation to talk through the detail of your written submission. The tender response is most likely full of technical detail. Most high-level decision makers are keen to have you explain all of the technical detail of your bid in fine detail, and don’t need to hear any arguments actually selling the merits of your bid.
Instead: keep your pitch presentation at a high level, and concentrate on selling, not explaining.
Question and Answers
Don’t worry too much about Q&A. You’ll be able to handle the questions as they arise – after all, you know your business, and no question would be too hard to answer. Anticipating questions, preparing answers, and building slides to support the answers will only ruin your spontaneity, and take away from the excitement of the pitch.
Instead: prepare for Q&A by listing possible questions, and thinking about how your answers can relate back to your value proposition. Prepare slides to support answers.
Solution vs Ability to Deliver
Spend all your time presenting your solution, and don’t say anything about your ability to deliver that solution, or in giving a sense of what you would be like to work with. After all, if the audience like your ideas they will have to choose you to deliver them. They couldn’t just ask a competitor to adapt their solution.
Instead: talk about your team and your company, not just about your creative solution.
Try to make your sales pitch slides perfect. Spend the night before making dozens of changes to the presentation, making sure that all of your presenters are exhausted during the pitch. Let everything else eat into rehearsal time, so that none of your pitch team has ever presented any of the slides before they do it for real.
Instead: lock down your slides the afternoon before you present. From that moment on, get great at delivering the slides.
Let your bid team get on with things, and only bring in your presenters – who are busy senior executives – the night before. They can make sure they are happy with the direction of the pitch presentation at the last minute.
Instead: if a presenter is going to play a significant role in your pitch, they need to be available, and involved in enough time to have input to the direction the pitch is taking.
Use bullet points. Every prospect loves to have somebody save them effort by coming in to read aloud. Spruce-up any text-heavy slides with clip art, a really busy PowerPoint template, or an incredibly complex diagram that is labelled in six-point font.
Instead: replace bullet points with graphics, images, charts, and animations. Don’t read aloud to grown adults.
Attractive Bullet Points
Bring in a design agency to make your slides look good. You realise your pitch presentation probably shouldn’t just involve your pitch team reading slides aloud, or talking around the bullet points that your audience have already read and understood. So, why not make the slides look better with a bit of design? Your audience may still be able to read your bullet points for themselves, but if the design is pretty enough they won’t notice how boring the presentation is.
Instead: replace bullet points with graphics, images, charts, and animations. Don’t just make bullet points look pretty.
3 Comments to Sales Pitch Presentation Mistakes
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Douglas Ritchie, Business Development Director, Serco
The presentation was a resounding success, enabling us to engage with the audience, demonstrate our understanding of the brief, effectively communicate our value proposition – and ultimately, win the business.