Your brand is a story. And if you’re having trouble closing sales, you might be telling your story wrong.
Every business transaction is really a story that’s being shared between two people: the teller (seller) and the audience (customer). If you set up a good story in your sales pitch, your prospects will want to find out how it ends happily for them.
But there’s a catch:
In order to close a sale, your pitch must tell the right story, at the right time, to the right audience. If you get any of these factors wrong, your odds of a happy ending fall fast.
4 Ways to Improve Your Sales Pitch
If you attract prospects that don’t convert as often as you’d like (or, worse, not at all), then you have a story problem. To improve your sales pitch, let’s figure out where it’s going wrong and what to do about it.
PROBLEM #1: You’re attracting prospects who aren’t ready to buy now
Is your audience even aware that they have a problem?
If not, you’ll have to make them aware of it. And once you do, not all of your prospects will be sufficiently motivated to solve a problem that they’ve just discovered. (At least, not unless the risk of ignoring it is likely to cause them significant hardship.)
If you attract an audience that’s only becoming aware of their problem, or if they don’t see its downside as a sufficient enough threat to require an immediate solution, then your product or service may be premature to market.
In that case, you have two potential fixes:
- shift your focus to only attract people who are already aware of the problem AND who are actively seeking a solution (which is a much smaller audience to target)
- shift your goal from sales to education (to achieve early brand awareness buy-in from your audience now, so they’ll be more interested in buying from you later)
Every prospect can eventually become a buyer. But you must tailor your sales story to attract those who are most likely to buy from you now. That’s how you’ll stay in business long enough to serve your slower-moving prospects later.
PROBLEM #2: No one knows who you are, so they don’t trust you to solve their problem (yet)
Big companies and major influencers have a “halo effect” around their brands.
When a brand is already well-known by its target market, any new product or service they introduce comes “pre-vetted” by their audience’s bullshit detector. This helps brands easily add new revenue streams to their existing channels. After all, if Product A-1 has already been proven to work, people are far more likely to pre-trust Product A-2.
But what if your prospects have never heard of you before?
How can you solve this critical perception problem?
By applying social proof.
Testimonials, referrals, reviews, case studies, client lists, search engine rankings — each of these factors into a first-time visitor’s impression of your brand. Even if they’ve never heard of you before, they want to see who else trusts you and why you’ve shown up at the top of their search results.
Which details in your marketing copy convey the happy endings that your current clients and past customers enjoyed? If you don’t have any listed, ask your best customers to explain your benefits back to you in their own words.
PROBLEM #3: You’re appealing to your prospects logically OR emotionally, but not both
An effective value proposition needs two ingredients: logic and emotion.
Your features — what your product or service does, and how it does it — make the logical case for your pitch. Your audience needs to know four practical things before they’ll buy from you:
- you understand their problem
- you know how to fix it
- you have relevant experience they can trust
- other people already believe in you
Unfortunately, this is where most pitches stop.
When you’re too close to your own solution, of course it makes sense to you, so why wouldn’t it make sense to everyone else too? This causes many businesses, nonprofits, and startups to ignore the second, equally important step: creating your audience’s desire for a solution that leads them to purchase.
Your benefits — how your prospect will feel after you’ve solved their problem, and the ways their lives will be better once that problem is eliminated — make the emotional case for your pitch. They ask your audience to imagine a better future for themselves, and they inspire them to take the necessary steps to achieve that better future — one of which involves buying what you’re selling.
If your prospects aren’t converting into customers, review your pitch to make sure you’re addressing your their logical and emotional needs.
While everyone is different, most people actually make emotionally-based decisions and then retroactively seek out a logical justification for them. Thus, both halves of your pitch should be represented in your pitch in order for your prospects to feel motivated to buy.
What happens if your pitch is imbalanced? That’s when you lose people.
If you overemphasize logic, you invite your prospects to compare you to others solely based on price or efficiency. (That’s a game you may lose.) If you overemphasize emotion, you ask your prospects to take a financial risk without yet understanding if their investment will be worth it. In that case, they’re likely to put it off.
PROBLEM #4: You’re not differentiating yourself from your competition
Even if your prospect is aware that they have a problem, and they want a solution, and they consider you to be able to deliver results they’ll appreciate, they still may not buy from you.
Because they may like someone else’s brand story better.
Your brand’s story is a tribal signal. It’s intended to attract other people who share your company’s values. That’s why some people buy Coke, some people buy Pepsi, and some people will never buy Coke or Pepsi.
Do you attract prospects whose values align with yours?
Do you attract prospects who enjoy interacting with you?
Do you attract prospects who see what your vision of “a better future for them” looks like and then say to themselves, “Not only do I want that future, but I want this brand to get me there”?
If the answer is no, then your problem is the way you’re telling your story.
Microsoft and Apple both make computers, but you can tell a lot about how someone views themselves based on which computer they buy.
Target and Banana Republic both sell pants, but you can tell a lot about how someone views themselves based on where they buy their pants.
Budweiser and your local brewery both make beer, but… you get the idea.
You’re probably not the only company offering a solution to your problem of choice. So look at your competition. Can you define what differentiates your solution from your competition?
More importantly: can your prospects?
If not, you need to highlight the values, the style, and the tone that sets you apart from your competition. Refine your message until your prospects can tell you apart from Competitor Z, but they can also tell which of you they prefer to buy from.
Image credits: Baby Desert Tortoise by K. Kristina Drake, LEGO pieces by Charles & Adrienne Esseltine, and Cows by Andrew Prickett via Flickr Creative Commons License; Heart and Brain by The Awkward Yeti
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