Business, Politics, & Society

How to Make the Perfect Sales Pitch: Step-by-Step Guide

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 7, 2019 • 6 min read

If brainstorming a great idea is all about getting into your head, successfully pitching it to the outside world is about getting out of it. It takes considerable practice to master the art of delivering the perfect sales pitch, but it’s worth the effort. Start small with an elevator pitch, then work your way up to pitches tailored to specific target audiences; you’ll find you build confidence with every pitch and soon find yourself winning over even the skeptics.

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Sara Blakely Teaches Self-Made EntrepreneurshipSara Blakely Teaches Self-Made Entrepreneurship

Spanx founder Sara Blakely teaches you bootstrapping tactics and her approach to inventing, selling, and marketing products that consumers love.

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How to Make the Perfect Sales Pitch in 6 Easy Steps

1. Create the Perfect Elevator Pitch

Every entrepreneur needs a clear, concise, and persuasive sales pitch. This short, punchy description of your business is called an elevator pitch, so named because the pitch should be no longer than 20 or 30 seconds, or the length of a short elevator ride. When someone hears your elevator pitch, they should walk away knowing who you are, what you do, and why your business or idea is a gamechanger. You’ll have to use this mini-pitch time and again—when you’re trying to win over family members who doubt your idea, when you’re convincing a manufacturer to make it, or when you’re talking a store owner into stocking your product.

Start crafting an elevator pitch by looking in the mirror and asking yourself: What makes my product, company, and idea different than the competition? Try to answer those questions in one minute or less without using any hedging words like “maybe,” “like,” or “I think.” Use assertive phrases like, “I know.”

2. Sell the Problem, Not the Product

You may think that when you’re selling your product, you’re selling your product, but that’s not the case. You’re actually selling the problem that your product solves.

Write your pitch in three parts:

  1. Describe the problem you’re addressing. Convince your manufacturer, customer, or buyer that there’s an urgent problem or pain point that needs solving. Appeal to their emotions and get them to either identify or empathize with the problem. Ask, “Has this ever happened to you?” If it hasn’t, make them feel for the people it does happen to: “This is something that my friend/mother/coworker has had to cope with their whole life.”
  2. Show how your product is the solution to this urgent problem. What makes your product better than all other options out there? If it’s a brand new innovation, what makes it a must-buy?
  3. Anticipate your customer’s objections. As you roll out part two of your pitch, anticipate objections. Practice your pitch on a few friends. Take specific notes on the feedback, and work on addressing their issues in your product and your pitch.

Once you nail your pitch at a minute, try cutting out anything superfluous to get it down to 50 seconds. Keep practicing and cutting and practicing some more until you’ve perfected a 30-second elevator pitch with a clear call to action—how can the person you’re pitching to join you in making your product a reality?

3. Know The 4 Target Audience Personality Types

There are four different personality types that entrepreneurs might have to sell to on their business journey:

  1. The Director: Someone who wants you to get to the point. If you’re pitching to the director, be concise. Don’t spend too much time dwelling on the problem before you present your solution.
  2. The Socializer: Someone who wants to get to know you. If you’re pitching to the socializer, tell your story, starting from your early background.
  3. The Relator: Someone who wants you to connect with them and care about them personally. If you’re pitching to the relator, talk about how you care deeply about the people whose problems your product will solve. You’re in this together!
  4. The Thinker: Someone who wants to know every detail about your product. If you’re pitching to the thinker, explain the problem you’re solving analytically, and get to the nuts and bolts of the materials and methods you’ve used to solve it.

Which type are you? Think about how your own personality is reflected in the sales pitch you’ve developed. Then identify four different people in your life who fit into the above four personality types. Rewrite your sales pitch four times, tailoring it to each of the people you’ve identified. Then rehearse each pitch out loud.

4. Persuasively Turn a “No” into a “Yes”

When is it appropriate to try and turn a “no” into a “yes”? It requires some tact to strike a balance between being pushy and being successful.

  • Give your “no” clients time to think about your pitch. Be thoughtful about when to follow-up after hearing “no.” Give them time to consider what you’ve offered before asking them again. In the meantime, who knows what could happen—you may gather even more examples of people who’ve shifted from “no” to “yes” while you wait.
  • Share an anecdote or testimonial. If a buyer or manufacturer who previously told you “no” but has since told you “yes,” share that story as a case study to show all of your “no” clients why they’re making a mistake. “This account first told me no, but then they decided to give it a try and it upped their overall sales by X percent.”
  • Use humor. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and maybe even play on the fact that you’re obviously trying to sell something. If you can gently mock your position and demonstrate self-awareness, people will feel more relaxed around you and may be willing to give you a try.

5. Leverage Yourself

The best sales pitch examples utilize the power of staying hands on. Don’t consider your first big department store sale as an indicator that you can rest on your laurels as your product flies off the shelves. For example, during the first two years that Spanx was being sold in department stores, the company’s founder Sara Blakely trekked to those stores and sold her product in person. She got the sales people at the department stores excited about selling her product by meeting them firsthand and giving them her sales pitch.

6. Face Your Fears

Many entrepreneurs fear public speaking, failure, and being embarrassed. Ultimately, a fear of selling comes down to the very human fear of rejection. The only way to chisel away at that fear is to expose yourself to it. Getting rejected again and again will anesthetize you to the letdown, and it will stop stinging so much.

Besides brute force, there are various classes you can take to get more comfortable with selling products to strangers:

  • Take a straightforward public speaking class—anything to get you more comfortable in front of a crowd. Body language is key to any successful sales pitch, and mastering yours will influence any number of potential customers or prospective clients.
  • Take an acting or stand-up comedy class (Sara Blakely did the latter). Both will force you to confront your vulnerability and get you accustomed to talking to strangers. Plus, you’ll learn the importance of good timing and delivery—a skill that is as key in sales as it is in acting and comedy.
  • Take a debate class. It will force you analyze two ways to look at an issue. This goes back to anticipating objections potential customers may have to buying your product.

Learn More About Entrepreneurship

Sara Blakely had no fashion, retail, or business leadership experience when she invented Spanx in the late 1990s. All she had was $5,000 and an idea. Which means you can start your own billion-dollar business, too. Learn more about finding your purpose, making prototypes, building awareness, and selling your product in Sara Blakely’s MasterClass.

Get the MasterClass All-Access Pass for exclusive access to video lessons taught by business luminaries, including Sara Blakely, Howard Schultz, Anna Wintour, and more.

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