Your sales pitch can make or break the deal, so it’s a good idea to have that nailed down before meeting with your customer. It’s your opening line, your verbal business card, and the first thing your customer will hear when you call or meet with them.

I’ve been in sales for almost 16 years and have heard my fair share of both great and less-than-stellar pitches.

For this post, I’d like to discuss the anatomy of a good sales pitch and share examples of the best sales pitches I’ve ever heard.

Salespeople are past the point of giving prospects hour-long presentations to sell products or services. Nobody has that kind of time and, to be honest, if you need an hour to relay your value proposition, you’re doing it wrong.

A good salesperson should be able to get their message across compellingly and concisely. If you can nail your sales pitch, odds are you’ll have more time to talk down the line.

A product pitch is not much different than a sales pitch, but is specifically focused on a product or service. You’ll go in-depth and emphasize how your product works, how it will solve their pain points, and the specific benefits it will bring to your customers.

As an example, a sales pitch can be broadly focused, like if you’re a consulting firm that offers a wide range of services. You’re selling your business as a whole, rather than a specific product or service, like a CRM platform or accounting tool.

Starting a pitch is arguably the hardest part. You have to grab your prospect’s attention so that they actually want to hear the value of your product and how it can help their business. But before you can share the product’s value, you have to hook the prospect.

When starting your pitch, you’ll want to integrate the following essential elements.

Here are a few methods for starting a product pitch, but remember: try to stick to thirty seconds, or one to two sentences if you’re delivering the pitch via email.

Start off a pitch with what you know best — yourself. While I don’t think you should focus solely on yourself throughout your entire pitch, starting off with a personal anecdote can help you speak with more authenticity and foster empathy.

The key here isn’t to focus on the product’s merits. How many product pitches start off with “This product helped me achieve X results in X amount of time”? A lot. And I’m already yawning. And no one cares about results unless they know the problem first.

Your personal anecdote should focus on a problem that your product can solve. Make it as excruciating as you’d like — and don’t forget to be genuine and connect your anecdote to their business.

Oh, yes, the good old question. While it might verge on overused, it’s not to be dismissed. Asking a question is a highly effective way to start a pitch. The question should, again, focus on the problem.

Stick to yes or no questions and tailor it specifically to the business you’re pitching to. If you’re speaking to a real estate business, create a question that articulates a problem specifically experienced by real estate firms. If you sell a property management software, it could be as simple as, “Do you spend way too much time tracking individual property sales? That’s time better spent actually showing homes to prospective buyers.”

Starting with a stat can be effective — but it has to resonate with the audience and offer stakes. In other words, what does the stat have to do with the problem? How does it reflect a potential and critical downfall that could harm your prospect?

Let’s say that you’re a salesman of yard maintenance services. Starting off with “50% of homes don’t use yard maintenance services” is a lazy and boring way to begin your pitch. Consider instead: “50% of homes don’t use yard maintenance services, resulting in thousands paid to HOA every year.”

Now that you know how to start your pitch, it’s time to deliver the rest of it. Use the following tips to secure buy-in in less than three minutes.

A sales pitch isn’t a conventional presentation. You’re not going to have PowerPoint slides. You’re not going to have complimentary pastries on a boardroom table. And, most of all, you’re not going to have your audience’s time and patience for long — at least not until they’re sold on your product.

This ties in with the previous point. You don’t have the time to go on tangents or talk about anything but the message you’re trying to get across. Your pitch has to be lean and to the point. It has to register with your listener immediately. That means speaking with intention and clarity.

If you’re pitching a product, you want to ensure that you clearly communicate how it will solve your prospects’ pain points, giving them a clear picture of how their day-to-day will improve if they decide to make a purchase.

Consider the picture you’re going to paint in your pitch. Give your listeners perspective on who’s buying your product or service. They want to know that you have a lucrative, engaged market in mind. Be specific in identifying who will be interested in your product, and try to convey why your listeners should be interested in them.

Cover why your customer base needs you. Your target market is only as valuable as the problems you can solve for them. Convey a problem they consistently face. If you’re pitching a spreadsheet software for accountants with functionality Excel doesn’t have, you could discuss how hard it is to bookkeep without your software’s unique features.

Here’s where you start to bring it all home. You’ve established who you’re selling to. You’ve established why you’re selling to them. Now, you have to establish why they’d buy from you. What can you do better than your competition?

As mentioned above, you need to clearly explain how your product addresses their needs. Continuing with the accounting example, you could touch on how your unique data visualization features make busywork more efficient.

Show the benefits of your product on a broader scale. In the example we’ve been using, you can talk about how accountants that use your software have more time to spend with important clients or the flexibility to spend time with their families. Show how your product makes your customers’ lives better as a whole.

Ideally, your pitch should be a one-liner summarizing what your company does, how they do it, and for whom. And this is not just a requirement for sales reps. Anyone in your company, from the CEO to sales consultants, needs to know your one-line sales pitch by heart.

So, how should you structure your sales pitch?

If you have time to properly expand and work on a conversation, touch on points of interest. Here’s a framework you can use for building your elevator pitch:

Many companies use success stories in their pitches to ensure the sale. Name-dropping really works, so be sure to use that to your advantage. And if your product is small or light enough to keep in your pocket, you should always have one on-hand to show your prospect.

I always stress the need for a concise sales pitch. So keep it free of professional jargon, don’t get into the weeds, and be sure to talk more about your prospect and their problems than yourself.

Nothing’s more off-putting than a bragging salesperson talking about themselves, their company, or their services. That’s what I call the “me monster.” The actor in your story is the customer, not you — period.

Lastly, presentation and distribution are everything. You need to deliver your sales pitch to the right person at the right time with the right tools on hand (like a demo, free trial, or presentation).

The sale starts with your list of contacts. Define your list and personas, know their correct contact information, get an introduction, and make sure you contact them at a time of day when they’re likely to respond.

How can you make your sales pitch the best it can be? Here are some sales pitch ideas.

For instance, if you’re selling enterprise-level software to senior-level executives, you might adjust your tone and delivery to be more formal and poised. The scrappy owner of a startup, however, might appreciate more humor and levity. Study your prospects to figure out the best storytelling method for them.

Who are you talking to? Make sure your sales pitch is relevant to them and piques their interest. You’ll be able to customize it so it addresses the items that are most important to the person you’re speaking with.

This idea applies to any pitching method or technique you use. No matter what, the sales pitch should speak to your prospect’s highly specific pain points and needs. For instance, if you’re pitching your bookkeeping software to the sole proprietor of a freelance business, you might emphasize the easy and simple invoicing tool.

Depending on the potential customer and situation, change up the type of pitch you use. Alternatively, as the sales process progresses, you can use different types of pitches and identify the ones that your prospect most effectively responds to.

Odds are your sales pitch isn’t happening in an English classroom. The idea of incorporating vivid, clever comparisons might seem effective in theory, but there’s a good chance you might confuse your prospect. Remember, you want to keep things clear.

If you feel compelled to use metaphors, keep them business-related or extremely familiar (like “it’s important to walk before you run” or “we should compare apples to apples”). Don’t use sports-related metaphors unless you’ve made a connection with your prospect on that basis — maybe they played baseball as a child like you did, or you’re both fans of the same sports team.

One way to ensure your pitch is memorable is by blowing the listener or recipient’s mind. You might do this by stating a fact that is counter-intuitive, demonstrating the product/service’s best-selling point in a shocking way, telling an outlandish story, or emphasizing your product’s most unique feature.

For instance, let’s say that you’ve established your company’s customer service as one of your key selling points. During an office visit, you might take the prospect on a tour of the customer service floor to show them the service team in action, and even introduce them to the chief customer officer on a first-name basis. Talk about creating a positive impression! With that move, you’ll cement the authenticity of your claims while delighting your prospect.

If you’ve both worked at startups in the past, for instance, you can appeal to your prospects’ emotions by mentioning how limited budgets can be during those early startup days. You can then either help them feel glad that they have a larger budget now, or lead into the returns of your product.

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful motivator and can create a great sense of urgency. The last thing you want is for them to be dazzled by your sales pitch but procrastinate long enough for that feeling to fade away. Instead, get them to take action right away.

You want to establish yourself as an authority in your space. Some interesting, relevant facts can help grab your customers’ attention and add a certain degree of legitimacy and trustworthiness to your pitch. In addition, provide more resources that the prospect can refer to as they continue exploring your company and your offerings. That way, they can find out more at their own pace.

It’s also important to provide supplemental information that doesn’t necessarily educate them about your product but about how they can do things more efficiently at their business. For instance, if you sell design software, you can send them links to resources that teach them how to design assets for social media platforms.

If you’re in need of inspiration, take a look at the following sales and product pitch examples. They’re short, focus on the customer, and effectively convey value.

If you were a hospital or pharmacy considering using Merck’s solutions, you’d be convinced by this pitch. Why?

Merck knows that values and strong scientific foundations drive business decisions in the healthcare industry. They capitalize on that by emphasizing their long history and tying their work into their mission. In that way, it sends a message that resonates with its target audience.

Gap is better known as a clothing brand, but the company behind it, Gap Inc, is a publicly traded firm with multiple successful brands under its belt. In its pitch to its potential investors, Gap Inc emphasizes its dominant position in the marketplace while ensuring that the company will be a secure long-term investment.

This is an interesting way to build your pitch: Make a note of what really annoys your customer and pitch how your service can resolve this grievance. It’s another way of reframing the customer’s needs, and it works because it’s a powerful way to describe the situation.

When they discuss how you’re being told by analysts what to do, or people who haven’t used a product, they highlight a clear disconnect in the market between what you need and what you get. The company allows verified users of products to write reviews and becomes an essential resource for their users.

In this pitch to businesses and organizations looking for a speaker, Van Jones emphasizes his expertise — then highlights the fact that his reach will apply to everyone who listens to him. In a similar way, you can use the authoritativeness of your business to stand out, then turn around and address any concerns an organization might have about doing business with you. Here, Van Jones subtly addresses the current political climate by emphasizing that his speeches will resonate with anyone regardless of their background.

Edward Jones, a financial advising firm, creates a personal, resonant pitch by focusing entirely on the prospect or buyer. You rarely hear about them in this pitch, which is another great model to follow when creating your own pitch. While this is geared toward consumers rather than another business, it’s a great example of how you can write a pitch that resonates with your prospects while offering plenty of information about what you do.

Thrivent Financial is another financial firm that focuses on the buyer in its pitch. Like in the previous pitch, it emphasizes helping prospects do what they most want to do after managing their finances. By implementing a similar strategy, you can craft your pitch so that prospects understand what they can achieve if they do business with you.

First up is HubSpot’s very own product pitch. Short and to the point, this pitch tells businesses what it offers and the results it can drive both for the prospect’s business and their customers.

I can’t stress this enough: Help your customer understand what you do, who you do it for, and how in under two minutes. Your customer is busy and doesn’t have more than two minutes to spend with you. A short sales pitch helps you as a salesperson as well, because the faster you can disqualify people who aren’t interested in your offer, the faster you can reach someone who is.

Vidyard is a company that’s been making waves — mainly because salespeople are finding video an effective prospecting tool. They found that great sales pitches are personalized, and what better way to do that than to add a human face to your message?

Their product pitch rocks not only because they identify their prospect clearly (sales reps who find email ineffective and time-consuming), but they also focus on the competitive advantage they have from the get-go. They don’t just sell this service, they “make remote selling easy” — and that makes a difference.

Leaving the discussion about competition too late in the conversation can also kill your sale. Vidyard knows this, which is why they make sure to include it in their pitch.

Found on the LISNR website, this product pitch uses their origin story to explain both how their organization came to be and what they aim to accomplish. This gives more context to their product, making purchasing with them more than just a transaction but also a contribution to a greater mission and belief system.

The Xactly pitch focuses on the problem their customer has — an important part of a successful pitch. I discussed the “me monster” above, and you should be wary of it when creating a pitch. Xactly does this well. The trick is to address your customer’s problems and concerns and highlight how your product or service solves these problems. In the case of Xactly, it’s about getting people off cumbersome legacy systems and Excel spreadsheets.

An important note to make about these sales pitches is that they are all amazingly optimized for a short conversation. I can’t stress enough how much brevity matters for a sales pitch. Talking too much, using filler words, and talking about your company for more than two minutes can easily kill a conversation. So, keep your sales pitch short, clean, and simple! Your customers will thank you.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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