Many large, complex sales require sales professionals to approach pitching as a team. Often, there is strength in numbers, but preparation and logistics become even more critical in order to show a unified front to the customer.
Preparation for Pitching as a Team
An important consideration is choosing who will handle the opening. The person opening has to be skilled in making an impact, commanding attention, and establishing an immediate hook. Typically, he/she will give opening remarks, a rundown of the agenda, introduce team members, and handle transitions.
It is vital to prepare specific roles and content for each member of the team. Every person should know what they’re going to say, and they should convey the value they bring to the table. Even though everyone has their own expertise, all must be aligned behind the same clear message during the sales pitch.
To anticipate and prepare for possible questions and objections, it helps for the team to brainstorm beforehand. What might be an issue? How will the team handle it? Who, specifically, will address questions in which areas? Each presenter should know which part of the overall story he/she is responsible for, along with how his/her content dovetails with what the other presenters are saying.
Whether or not each person stands up to make his/her presentation depends on the circumstances. Sometimes, it’s natural to stand, even if everyone else is seated. Standing commands attention. Just make sure not to pace or walk excessively, which can be distracting.
Standing to present is most typical in finals presentation, but it may not work when the meeting is an informal conversation around a conference table. Just be aware of what’s going on in the room and adjust your style accordingly.
It is important to monitor audience reactions while each team member gives his/her section of the presentation. Is one person going on too long? Did another skip over an essential element? How is the audience responding? Do they look interested, or have they retreated from the conversation? To get back on track, stop and ask for feedback. “How is what we’re saying resonating with you? Does it seem like we’re on the mark?”
If one team member either can’t or hasn’t fully answered a question, another team member may speak up, but be careful not to contradict each other. “In addition to what Bob said, I’d like to add …” This way, it’s a matter of addition, prefacing the comment so it doesn’t sound contradictory. “Another way to look at this might be …” or “We’ve seen clients address this issue in another way …”
Designate someone to take notes throughout the meeting to make sure key points and comments made by the customer are recorded so that they can be assessed and addressed later.
Closing the Pitch
At the conclusion of the meeting, two things should happen: First, ask for feedback. “We’ve covered a lot here today, and we want your feedback about what you’ve heard. What additional areas would you like us to address?”
Second, ask for the business in a consultative way. I’ve been in some meetings where we can go from presentation to talking about implementation in the next breath. If, however, the meeting is more formal, with a structured RFP process, then be prepared for the customer to defer any decision making until later. If that’s the case, make sure to ask about next steps and who the contact will be to continue the conversation and schedule future meetings.
Once the meeting is over and the team is back in the office, be sure to send a personalized thank-you note. It should relate to something the customer brought up in the meeting or something that was most interesting to them. Following up like this gives the team one more chance to reinforce their value and demonstrate an extra level of attention to meeting customer needs.