Thanks to the explosion of digital content, buyers are less dependent on sales reps for basic information on products and services. This information is readily available to them through a mix of social media, peer reviews, and industry sources. Instead, what buyers seek from sales reps are trustworthy and valuable contributions tailored to address their unique pain points and business needs. One study, for instance, found that buyers want salespeople to become strategic contributors to their buying experiences, providing them advice that contributes value to their purchase decisions, and helps them grow their bottom-line.[i]
Given this shift, the traditional sales pitch, designed as a one-way information dump from the seller to the buyer and primarily focused on features and pricing, is no more effective. For sales reps to contribute meaningfully in sales conversations, it's vital that their sales pitches be more customer-centric, problem-solving, and engage with the customer at every stage of the buyer's journey. In other words, the modern sales pitch is less about the seller and more about the buyer. It requires reps to actively listen and provide enough scope for customers to participate in the sales conversation and collaborate in discovering a solution suited to their needs.
Modern pitching is not a monologue
So, what makes for an effective sales pitch? According to studies, buyers want sales reps to show an understanding of a company’s business, situation, and needs, demonstrate ROI or value, actively listen to them, provide expertise and guidance, and help collaborate and co-create in crafting a compelling solution.[ii]
All of this means that the modern sales pitch has to be a two-way conversation. This doesn’t mean sales reps should do away with a structured sales pitch and wing it through unplanned, ad-hoc conversations. However, it does call for a more flexible and contextually relevant sales pitch that creates space for buyers to ask questions, express ideas, and think through problems with the sales rep.
Why modern pitching needs sales pitch readiness
If the modern sales pitch is a flexible and contextually relevant conversation, preparing to pitch to customers cannot simply involve memorizing a rigid script. Instead, the process is more akin to learning to speak a new language, the language of the customer’s pain points and motivations. This involves:
a) Capturing the nuances of real-world problems rather than trying to box customers into pre-decided categories.
b) Thinking creatively and being able to translate the customers’ existing problems into new and unique solutions.
c) Handling objections with the confidence and mastery needed to inspire trust in the buyer.
Building such fluency into the sales pitch would require reps to not just learn about the product but also develop the skills to ask the right questions, listen actively, map product benefits to customer pain points, provide specific solutions, and reframe objections into opportunities. In other words, while product and market knowledge can be consumed passively, active participation and practice are required for sales reps to perfect their selling skills and master their sales pitch. This is because not all forms of learning are equal. For example, research tells us that we retain a bare 5% of the information when we listen to a lecture. Even with audio-visual methods and live demonstrations, retention never rises beyond 30%. However, an impressive 75% of knowledge is retained when we learn by doing.[iii] This vast difference is because active participation increases the learner's level of reflection and cognitive processing. Therefore, to apply such skills effectively in the sales conversation, reps need sales pitch readiness, a process that helps reps to integrate their sales knowledge with the skills to apply it in real-world sales conversations through continuous practice. Simply put, sales pitch readiness involves the process of making sure that sales reps have the required knowledge and skills to go out and start pitching.
Getting reps sales ready with pitch readiness
The primary goal of sales pitch readiness is to equip sales reps with the ability to deliver customer-centric sales pitches that engage customers meaningfully at each step of the sales journey. The key building blocks of a sales pitch readiness program are:
Make pitch practice easy and continuous:
For building fluency in applying selling skills to sales conversations, sales organizations must initiate and maintain a regular cadence of sales pitch practice for their reps with periodic knowledge reinforcement. This requires an ongoing commitment and a process for reps to rehearse pitches on a continuous basis in order to ensure that they are constantly developing their skills. For instance, building regular pitch practice as part of a daily routine and as an essential component of updating rep readiness before each scheduled sales call can help reps perform at their peak at all times. But getting reps to adhere to such regular cadence requires making it as easy as possible for them to partake in practice activities. Thankfully, pitch intelligence and sales readiness platforms using AI/ML technologies allow sales reps to easily record and share demos and practice pitches with managers and peers and get regular feedback for improvement. Sales reps can break down the sales pitch into specific tasks and subroutines, such as cold call opening and objection handling, and work on them iteratively so that each micro-skill can be deployed as and when required.
Expose reps to diverse sales scenarios:
To gain mastery over open sales conversations, reps must learn to adapt and respond to a variety of sales situations, not all of which may have been foreseen. After all, they must participate in hundreds of different types of sales conversations across different product lines, industries, segments, buyer types, sales stages, and so on. To keep up, rep practices cannot be formulaic repetitions of a few standard scripts but must include a range and variety capable of building up the necessary skills to address different real-world sales scenarios. Whether it's a quick rehearsal of battle cards before an important sales call or a late-night practice using role play on objection handling before meeting a challenging buyer the next morning, keeping the practice closer to real-world situations makes it easily accessible to the sales reps whenever similar situations arise.
Include immediate, unbiased, and specific feedback:
Practice is of little utility unless it is accompanied by effective feedback. Without such feedback, sales reps are left with no means to know what lessons they should draw from their sales pitch practice and which skills they should pursue further. Feedback is most effective when it is neutral, immediate, and specific.
When feedback is neutral, it helps overcome any bias that may distort the assessment results. Bias could result from conscious or unconscious prejudices that consistently skew assessments and feedback toward or away from certain practices or patterns without sufficient evidence to support the chosen trajectory. Immediacy in feedback is necessary because reps should be able to remember the specific details of their performance when they receive feedback on it so they can act upon it. If feedback is given after a long interval when the memory of the performance has faded, it will only lead to confusion as reps are unlikely to remember the actions or behaviors being critiqued by their managers or coaches. Finally, specificity is necessary in order to give sales reps clearly actionable ideas on the specific skills they need to work on to improve their sales performance.
An AI-enabled pitch intelligence platform uses algorithmic computation to provide feedback that is neutral, immediate, and specific. The formal rules of algorithms ensure that the feedback remains neutral and bias-free, while superior computing resources allow for more rapid feedback that takes account of many more specific and quantifiable factors.
Gamify pitch practice to encourage competition and improvement:
Healthy competition is a great way to engage sales reps and encourage them to practice more. Studies show, for instance, that 83% of sales reps receiving gamified training feel motivated, while 61% of those receiving non-gamified training feel bored and unproductive.[iv] This is because building-in games and contests tap into three strong desires: competition, recognition, and reward. Competition also forces reps to flex their capabilities in new and creative ways to beat their rivals.
Curate pitch practice and training content for supplemental learning:
Individual sales reps don't always have to start from scratch but can build on knowledge gained from the collective experiences of all team members. However, it isn't easy to encourage such collaboration among competing sales reps. However, curating and sharing pitch practice content from top performers as examples of best practices is one easy and effective way to encourage peer learning and provide supplemental resources for coaching. Another essential step in supplementing pitch practice and coaching is creating a library of sales objections and strategizing responses to them.
Continuous pitch practice with flexible and contextually relevant sales pitch scripts tailored to handle a wide variety of real-world sales scenarios, supported by immediate and unbiased feedback for further improvement, is the key to building sales pitch readiness in sales reps. When companies make such practice convenient, structured, and effective through the use of an AI-enabled pitch intelligence and sales readiness platform, they set up their reps for consistently successful sales conversations.
How the Nytro.ai platform can help you build sales pitch readiness
By providing the tools to conveniently create and share pitch practice videos, the Nytro.ai pitch intelligence and sales readiness platform empowers sales reps to take ownership of their own practice and skill development. Further, with AI-enabled assessments, the Nytro.ai platform provides immediate and actionable feedback on factors such as clarity, tone and pacing, topic coverage, and keyword usage, as well as ranks each rep's performance against the average and top performers. This helps reps understand skill gaps and areas for improvement that they could immediately act upon to improve their performance and helps managers assess which reps are sales ready and which need more training. Finally, the platform also provides tools to gamify the pitch practice process and make the learning process more engaging.