The trick is to shorten your learning curve by making the duration to perfection a factor of frequency more than a factor of time. Pitch as many times as humanly possible, improving with each successive attempt based on progressive lessons learnt.
An account winning pitch takes time to bake. As with every new skill, even the seasoned salesperson will struggle with a pitch, for the similar product or service he must cross-sell. Let alone one for the different industry he has joined. Berating yourself over a ‘failed’ pitch is foolish, really. Fail is in quotes because fail implies finality. And finality when learning a new skill is the destination not the journey. You must crawl, and then walk before you can master the skill of running. Yes, you may skip the crawl because of experience but it is defeatist to want to jump straight to running.
When you prepare your pitch, you see in your mind’s eye how the product or service can help the buyer, and invariably you are limited to that view point. And no matter how much you think you have nailed it, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Only the audience’s response after you present can help mould the pitch to perfection. There is no way round this. It just is. Take heed of this quote: “You cannot get a baby in one month by impregnating nine women. Some things will take as long as they will take.”
A pregnancy takes 9 months
And such is what growing a skill calls for. Grazing your knee falling off the bike, wobbling in the name of cycling, even being ridiculed by those terrified of failing their way to passing. It is therefore futile to insist that your sales fail for lack of the perfect pitch. If business projections unfolded in real life as they do on Microsoft Excel then everyone would be in business.
This is not carte blanche to throw in the towel and not prepare. Far from it. Nothing can ever take the place of preparation. Strive to connect the buyer’s problem to how your product solves it. Anticipate whatever objections that may arise and weave them into your pitch. And then practice relentlessly. And here’s the clincher-bounce it off someone else. You will be surprised how blind-sided you will be. As we were, when presenting our relatively new transformation program Connect! “The benefits didn’t shine through; the persuasion was more logical than emotional” and “That objection was poorly handled,” we were told. Will it be perfect with the next pitch? Of course, not.
Sharpen the saw
It’s still an experiment in a lab-move it to a live environment and the vagaries of nature kick in- like the effect of the Brexit vote on your sterling pound pegged pricing; or, being told to present your thesis without the PowerPoint presentation to prop you. But you improve your next pitch based on this feedback; you even weave the client’s industry jargon and examples into it, gleaned from previous presentations. The trick is to shorten your learning curve by making the duration to perfection a factor of frequency more than a factor of time. Pitch as many times as humanly possible, improving with each successive attempt based on progressive lessons learnt.
And perfecting the skill is still not the destination-continually working at it is. I was surprised to learn from a doctor that if your legs remain immobile for a mere six weeks they could atrophy; meaning you may have to learn how to walk all over again. Imagine that! A skill we take for granted can simply fizzle to nothing for lack of use. Equally, sharpening the skill of pitching is a continual process. Like typing has disrupted writing, a lapse in the skill of pitching will see it atrophy. Perhaps that is why salespeople are said to be only as good as their last sale. To make your pitch ‘perfect’ requires you to keep giving and improving it. Baking it into account winning perfection, beats berating yourself into dejection.
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