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Mastering the Perfect Pitch -- A Sales No-Hitter

Posted Monday, July 9, 2012, at 12:24 PM

In the sales world, delivering the perfect pitch is akin to throwing a no-hitter. It's no easy feat, but those who've mastered the art of the flawless pitch have the power to consistently shut down the opposing team and bring home more wins.

A "sales pitch" can be defined in several ways -- the elevator pitch given over the phone to secure a sales meeting, a one-on-one sales conversation with a prospective buyer, or a more formal presentation to a group of buyers and influencers. The latter of these can be the most challenging, as its formality can limit a salesperson's innate ability to engage and build rapport with a prospect.

It's been my experience that salespeople who "deliver presentations" close a mere 10 to 20 percent of that business. In contrast, when they engage prospects through a more interactive "demonstration," that close ratio jumps to 60 to 70 percent. Here's how they do it:

Show passion. Undeniable passion -- for the client or marketing in general -- sells. It's contagious, and prospects eat it up.

Show versus tell. Offer facts and examples to prove you've successfully resolved, for other clients, the type of pain your prospect is experiencing. This will often lead them to the conclusion that you're the right fit before you even say so.

Communicate vs. lecture. Step away from your PowerPoint occasionally. Lay down the clicker, walk toward your prospects, look them in the eye, and have a heart-to-heart about a topic you know to be important to them. Ask for input. You'll be remembered for it.

Identify and speak to the pain. Be sure you know what pain your prospects are experiencing that led them to consider your proposal. If you can't ascertain this information in advance, build a quick needs assessment into your pitch and adapt your presentation accordingly on the fly.

Demonstrate you care deeply about them, their company and their goals. Your presentation should feel personal.

Answer direct questions directly. Candor in the sales world is refreshing. There's no faster way to earn a prospect's respect than by answering the tough questions directly -- even when the answer doesn't benefit you.

Rehearse and own the room. Walk through your presentation so you can speak off script. It's a presentation crime to read from the screen. Not only do you look unprepared and lacking in confidence, but you are unable to maintain eye contact.

Quickly get to the WIIFM (what's in it for me -- your prospect). Work to spend 80 percent of your time talking about your prospect's needs versus your company.

Like every major league pitcher, salespeople must honestly assess their current skill level and dedicate time to developing those skills in order to find their way to the perfect pitch and that coveted no-hitter.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing, in Memphis, TN. www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).

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Lori Turner-Wilson
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Lori spent over 15 years leading corporate marketing and communications divisions in the financial services, hospitality and franchise restaurant sectors. As Director of Target Marketing for the Hampton Hotels brand of Hilton Hotels Corporation, Lori managed promotional, direct and Web marketing, as well as custom publishing, for the brand's franchise system. In her role as Vice President of Employee Communications and Development for First Horizon National Corporation, she managed the corporation's internal culture initiatives, communications, and employee recognition programs. Other positions held include Sr. Communications Director/Corporate Editor for TCBY Enterprises, Inc., and Vice President of Marketing for First National Banking Company. Lori is a founding sponsor and member of the Board of Directors for LaunchMemphis -- an organization committed to developing an entrepreneurial community in Memphis comprised of investors, entrepreneurs and local organizations. In addition, Lori is on the Board of Directors of the Sales and Marketing Society of the Mid-South and on the Advisory Board for the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County. She is a sought-after speaker in the Memphis area, delivering sales and marketing keynote addresses and workshops to organizations like: the Memphis Chapter of the American Advertising Federation, the Sales & Marketing Society of the Mid-South, LaunchMemphis, EmergeMemphis, the Memphis Regional Chamber, the National Association of Women Business Owners, and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. Lori holds a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in addition to having completed the University of Colorado's School of Bank Marketing and Management. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards including local and district Addy's, Communicator awards, and a Telly. She received recognition as one of the Memphis Business Journal's "Top 40 Under 40" recipients in 2009. Lori also served as a contributing ghost writer for the renowned "Complete Idiot's Guide to Guerilla Marketing." Beyond her passions for marketing and dogs of all shapes and sizes, Lori is an avid traveler, runner and foodie.