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4 Steps to Strengthening Your Digital Sales Pitch

January 28, 2021

Millions of emails and voicemails are sent to sales prospects every day, many of which never yield a response. Capturing someone’s attention is even more challenging if you represent a startup and lack the authority of a well-known corporation. In today’s world, where the opportunity to connect in person at conferences, trade shows, or over coffee is more constrained, strong digital communications can mean the difference between getting your foot in the door and being shut out.

Amy Kalokerinos, founder of AKalaid and a former partner at Andreessen Horowitz, uses her vast connections and industry knowledge to help ambitious startups accelerate sales, marketing, and business development.

During B Capital’s Marketing and Sales in a Digital-First Environment webinar, Kalokerinos gave an inside look at perfecting your sales pitch and securing prospects in the digital-first climate — or any environment.

Here are four steps for companies seeking to open minds and close sales.

  1. Personalize each pitch

Specificity is key in sales outreach. Prospects want to know that you’ve researched their role, their company, and their needs. They don’t want their time wasted with generic, copy-and-pasted emails.

Before crafting a cold email, get to know your audience. Thankfully, social media has made your job here a little easier. Scan your prospect’s LinkedIn profile, paying attention to recently published work, like thought leadership articles, corporate white papers, or video clips. Reference these in your opener by citing an intriguing point or complimenting them on a particularly well-executed piece.

If your sales target hasn’t shared any recent updates, search for broader company news and call out a recent achievement (like launching a new product or welcoming a new cohort of hires). “Prospects live and breathe personalization,” explained Kalokerinos. “It’s all about connecting through current events and what’s happening around them.”

Customize the body of your email, as well. Think: How will my product or service specifically benefit this prospect? Put simply, people don’t want to learn about a company that’s “changing the world.” They want to learn about one that will change their world.

  1. Offer the option of an audio-only call

Video call usage skyrocketed during COVID-19. But while face-to-face communications can cause a sense of connection, it’s also sparked a new phenomenon: Zoom fatigue.

“On a video call, the only way to show we’re paying attention is to look at the camera,” explained one Harvard Business Review article. “But, in real life, how often do you stand within three feet of a colleague and stare at their face? Probably never. This is because having to engage in a ‘constant gaze’ makes us uncomfortable — and tired.”

To curb potential exhaustion, offer prospects the option of going off-camera. If they have multiple video calls already on their calendar, audio-only communications could be a refreshing reprieve — inspiring a sigh of relief and making your meeting stand out in their mind.

  1. Lead with empathy

Before discussing sales solutions, keep in mind that you’re speaking with a person. In any environment, it’s important to lead with empathy — and even more so when connections are being made remotely.

“Build that rapport and personal relationship,” directed Kalokerinos. The best way to do so? By beginning with a conversation-starter tailored to your prospect’s situation. For instance, if a prospect’s company recently faced internal restructuring, you may inquire about new challenges that have cropped up.

“Remember that it’s not about you,” said Kalokerinos. “It’s actually about them.” Once you’ve made a personal connection, seamlessly segue into the next facet of empathy. As the seller, you should be thinking: How can I make my prospect’s job easier? Is there anything I’ve heard in these first few minutes, or from my research, that provides a sales hook? Are we selling something that increases efficiency, saves time, or benefits their bottom line?

When delivering your pitch, be patient rather than pushy. “Prospects have enough sense of urgency in their life right now,” said Kalokerinos. Instead of attempting a hard sell, adopt a consultative approach. “We want to be more of an educational expert,” she explained.

Most of all, keep in mind: While empathy is everything, disingenuity won’t get you anywhere.

  1. Demonstrate real ROI

“Every customer is now the CFO,” said Kalokerinos. “If you don’t have a return on investment, you don’t have a sell.”

Throughout your pitch, demonstrate a deep understanding of your prospect’s pain points — and show how your solution fills the gaps in their current processes. For instance, if they struggle with finding quality software engineers for open roles, explain how your B2B recruiting software is programmed to pinpoint top tech talent.

“Budgets are being scrutinized at almost every organization across the globe,” reminded Kalokerinos. “If you’re an executive and you’re looking to purchase some sort of software service, you really have to build the case as to why it’s critical.”

Above all else, remember: Generalizations go nowhere, but specificity gains traction for the next step in the sales process.

Plan for success

At the end of the day, said Kalokerinos, sales is 80% planning and 20% execution. “The planning is the most critical aspect,” she explained. “Because the more planning you do and the more thoughtful you are, the better your outcome actually is.”

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