Sales Pitch Preparation: 10 Things to Include

What are some failsafe topics to include in your sales pitch preparation to increases the likelihood of your client saying yes to your solution?

The golden question is – what do clients look for when you pitch to them?  What defines success – and a win for you?

This is a difficult question to answer in just a few words. The reason is that clients alter their priorities across industries.

For example, in relatively immature industries such as AI, a proven track record of success, plus a financially robust balance sheet, are both essential elements that clients will look for.

In mature industries, such as Logistics, it’s quite the opposite. Clients know that the top logistics companies are on the whole successful and financially robust. Instead, clients might be looking for freshness, energy and innovation in this mature market.

But there are loads of other considerations too. Your job prior to the pitch is to find out which of these points are right up the top of the client’s assessment notes.

If you get them right, and focus your sales pitch in those areas, then you will have much more chance of success!

So here’s the list – keep it handy while you’re preparing for your next pitch!

sales presentation pitch

1. Previous relevant experience

Clients want to know that you can hit the ground running to help reduce induction rollout costs. All things being equal between suppliers, then clients might choose the supplier that already knows them, their industry, key personalities and issues. Educating a supplier can be an expensive process. Your clients will want to cut down on these costs as much as possible.

Additionally, there is something reassuring about a track record. It means that you have got some results and learned from your mistakes – on another client’s time!

How do you demonstrate experience? Well the first thing to realise is that it doesn’t “go unsaid”. You must absolutely showcase your experience in your pitch. You can do that with testimonials (client video interviews work well) and case studies.

With your case studies, consider using the three-stage “Challenge, Solution, Result” structure. If the “Result” section is written or spoken in the client’s words, even better!

Selected evidence that you have operated successfully in their sector is crucial and will fundamentally change the dynamic of your new business pitch.

2.  Change their world!

Your aim with a pitch is to change the client’s world. At the end of the pitch, your client should feel fundamentally different from when you walked in.  If you don’t feel that you can do this, then chances are you won’t win, because yours may be a “me-too” pitch jammed in with the rest of the pack.

One of the key ways you can change the client’s world is by telling them something that they either don’t know already, or haven’t given enough thought/priority towards.

It’s not easy to come up with a special insight or two.  It will take the most experienced and lateral thinkers from your business.   But that’s usually what wins pitches, so you need to set aside the time.

In his excellent book The Perfect Pitch, Jon Steel mentions that was one of the ways he won the Porsche account.  It seems in the 1990s that Porsche executives did not realise what the rest of the world thought about their cars – that they were “driven by assholes”.  The pitch that Steel made was about providing research into this attitude and this one insight formed the backbone of a very successful and creative advertising pitch.

3.  Ability to deliver the solution

Note the wording here:  deliver solution.  This is not “ability to present the solution” – that’s the easy bit!  What you have to do when you’re pitching is to show how you are going to actually deliver the solution.

If you are pitching something tangible to the client that they can touch and feel, then you’re at an advantage.  For the rest of us who sell the “intangible” then showing our ability to deliver the solution is not as easy as it sounds.

It might be best to demonstrate your ability to deliver the solution.  So maybe you can think about doing a walk-through, or painting a vivid word picture.  Show them the people who will be rolling out the solution – their personalities, drive, ambition, track-record.

Plus, a simple rollout-plan always helps.

The most effective pitches show just how easy it is to work with a client. Easy steps with minimal hassle is the key to success here.  And the way it is delivered is important too – this is part of what you do every day and every week so you should present in a calm, logical, clear way.

Remember that you don’t need to know how your car works to enjoy the luxurious ride.  The client doesn’t need to know all the detail.  However they do need to know that you are more than capable of delivering an outstanding solution.

4.  Cost effectiveness

It’s important to know the difference between price and cost effectiveness.  A price is a ticket hanging on a product, nothing more.  It is a number only.  So price alone has no value.

That number is validated by you in a pitch if you are able to add value.  When you put it into a pot with anticipated (or guaranteed) results, adding benchmarking, competitor comparisons, success-measurements & performance incentives then you have cost effectiveness.

It’s possible in a pitch to plant some “value bombs” as well. Supposing that you are in a competitive pitch, and you want to show your product has a certain value that your competitors do not have.  For example you might be able to offer a performance guarantee and your competitors may not.

You might say the following in your pitch: “Be wary of companies who offer this without a performance guarantee – this may be covering up some of their service faults.”

It’s interesting how many times we get told that “we recently lost a pitch based on price”.  One way of looking at this is if you pitch for a client and lose based on price, then you only have yourself to blame.  Why? Because you talked about price and not cost effectiveness (value).  Clients will look for value so spell it out for them.

5.  Strength of senior management

If you have an interesting, charismatic leader from your senior management team then it’s a good idea to put them forward.  Humans like associating with power, and your business clients will love a strong, charismatic senior management person.

During the pitch your senior manager must talk from the heart and give some real flavour about your company.

It is up to you to showcase your senior management person as best you can.  If they can’t be there in person, can they record a 60-second video for the pitch?  Could they call in for question time from the airport with a special message?

Don’t underestimate the power of involving this person because they drive your very important corporate strategy, thinking and financial success.  Your clients will like to know that your leaders are accessible people who are thinking of them.

Final tip – if your senior management is in the pitch, it’s important to guide them about content, tone and role.  They need to rehearse just as much as the next person.  You won’t want them to hijack the pitch and run away with the timing because they were ill prepared.

The point is clients will say yes to you if your senior management puts their heart & brains on display. Make it happen!

6.  Financial stability

Does this one surprise you?  It might because (except for a tender process) clients may not usually be forthcoming with questions about your financial performance.  It may not come up at all during the pitch.

Yet it is important to them and will count quite strongly in their reckoning.  The reason is clients may want to partner with you for several years at least, without having to go through a regular buying process which costs them time and money.

As such no prospective customer will be interested in a partnership that will be soon brought to a screeching halt when you become insolvent!

So please make sure you point out to the customer the highlights of your financial success. For example:

  • You have been active in the market for a number of years
  • You count X, Y and Z as some of your biggest clients
  • You are investing in your company with innovation and technology
  • You are continually investing in your people to ensure that they are happy, stable and always learning.

If your financial stability “goes unsaid” then you are inviting a level of nervousness.

Now that you know clients are actively assessing your financial stability then you can introduce it into your pitch.

7. Position within your own sector

Your average pitching audience will see 3 of your competitors. Sorry if this is the first time you are about to hear this: from your clients perspective you probably all look the same!

So you must differentiate, and that means declaring your market position:

  • What is the one thing that you do differently to everyone else?
  • What is the one way that you seek to surpass client expectations?
  • What is the main point of difference about your product and your people?

Are you clear about your position in your sector? Are you “100% digital”, or “We come to you”, or “Guaranteed success”?

Do you offer a “personal service”, or are you all about “convenience”, or do you have a “retail speciality”?

At the end of a pitch your clients should absolutely know your point of difference. They should be able to say something like “Oh yes, I really the Content Management System people”!

Whatever you decide, there are a couple of guidelines about positioning:

  1. For a position to be viable, then you usually have to be first.
  2.  And if you’re not first then you need to do it much better!
  3. Also, a position is usually relative, meaning that you should have X position in relation to your competitor’s Y position.

For an understanding of positioning, there is no greater book than “Positioning, The Battle For Your Mind” by Trout and Ries.

They reasoned that each market segment is like a ladder – for example in the “Cola” category there are 5-6 main players forming the rungs of that ladder. Each cola has a position in the mind of the consumer. For example: diet, upper class, a mixer, the real thing…

The point is, one of the key criteria that clients are using to measure you is the difference, the value and the uniqueness you have compared to your competitors. This is one of the key ways to winning a pitch and is worthy of as much time as you can dedicate to it.

8.  Creativity of your solution

People are creative, companies are creative and solutions are creative.  If you think you are in a totally non-creative company, then you are wrong. Creativity doesn’t just belong in an advertising agency.  Creativity dictates the effort, the skill and the approach required to solve a problem.

In a pitch you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  You might have the same commoditised solution as your competitor – for example a bag of wheat – and you might think there is little you can do about it.  However, in the right hands even a bag of wheat can win over an audience.

Pitch creativity is about presenting it in a way that moves audiences to feel something about the solution.  It could be the way you present it in the pitch:  you could make the solution the hero and the real focal point of the pitch.  You could have certain visuals to support this.  You might include the client in a session to help you actually arrive at the solution in the pitch – demonstrating both your creativity and giving the client a first hand look at how simple it is to work with you.

You might twist the solution around and look at the problem from a different angle (maybe the customer angle, or the media angle).  You can be creative with how you structure account service, how you order your logistical solution and how you present a contract.

There are all sorts of opportunities to demonstrate “out of the box” thinking.

9.  Chemistry of the team

When your clients are watching your pitch, there is a portion of their attention (albeit at times subconscious) that is directed towards your teamwork.  Chemistry is defined in Wikipedia as “the science of matter and the changes it undergoes”. Note that there are two dynamics here – the original form, and then change.

What does this mean for chemistry within your team?  Well, the same two things. Winning teams are the combination of personalities in your team, but it is also the way you change with, and react to, each other.

In other words true team chemistry is not just how you appear, but the small changes that you go through in the room while you are pitching.

It’s the changeovers, the reactions, the subtleties, the respect you have for each other (not doodling while the other person is speaking for example!) and the way you bounce off each other that count. Chemistry is the jokes you share, or the way you throw across the room to your Account Manager for an example or anecdote.  It’s the slight brush of a hand on your shoulder as your GM stands beside you, talking about you warmly and genuinely.

Teamwork is greatly aided by rehearsal.  Be aware that it is very difficult to “create” chemistry between people because it may come across as fake or forced.  Team chemistry shouldn’t be the aim of a session, but rather a pleasing side effect of rehearsal.

Why do clients rate team chemistry so highly when they are watching pitches?  Because it is an indicator of so many other things, such as:


If this team respect each other (for example don’t interrupt) then they probably have a healthy working relationship.  If they respect each other’s expertise then it probably represents a well structured and talented business


If this team work well with each other in the pitch then it means that they have worked together in a stable environment for a while in the real world too


A pitching team in harmony and good humour indicates to the client that they will be easy to work with.

10.  Performance against industry benchmarking

Won any awards lately?  Has your company been the subject of a survey, or some research?  Have you had the opportunity to statistically prove how good you are – compared to others in your industry?  Has there been any consumer comparison data produced?

This is very important information to get across in a pitch.

The reason is that industry benchmarking can move the pitch topic from opinion to fact.   From “this is how good we think we are” to “this is how good others think we are”.

If you haven’t entered any industry awards maybe this is the year you could consider it.  Yes, it’s a lot of work. However there are benefits – it can really help to focus what your company has achieved, producing some great materials for your next pitch.

And it can bring people together from various internal departments.

But most of all, preparing for an award or commissioning some research is a great way of ticking this important box for a client.

(Incidentally at Natural Training one client of ours said that winning an award increased his billings by about 100%).

Make your next sales pitch a winning one!

A pitch is a high energy process – often fun and sometimes frustrating.  It is usually a time of great uncertainty too.  From the outset you are never 100% sure that you are going to win, which makes it a nervous process full of guesswork.

Your aim throughout your pitch preparation is to bring as much certainty to the process as possible.  While not conclusive, this list of criteria should go a long way to helping you get that certainty.

Check out our sales pitch training page if you would like us to show you why we are considered a sure thing by many of our clients looking to win their next pitch.

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