Central Sierra
University of California
Central Sierra

Perfecting Your Sales Pitch

When I started my first business, I knew that I had a great product and I expected everyone to automatically realize this and purchase it. In those initial months, sales were lackluster. I couldn't believe how few people were buying and that buyers were refusing to carry my product. What was wrong with my product? Did they not see how great it was? What was I doing wrong?

During this angst, two successful businessmen, whom I knew and respected, explained that I was not understanding the art of the sale. I wasn't clear about who I was, what I was selling, and why they needed my product. I was expecting my product to speak for and sell itself. When I did engage, my sales pitch wasn't clear, direct, and persuasive. I tended to let the prospective buyer dictate terms because I needed to make the sale. As bills piled up, I began to work on a more refined sales pitch or elevator speech. With work, that speech resulted in sales. Profits increased and business stabilized.

Many years later, I have transitioned from manufacturing a product to growing a product. I have learned to tailor my presentation to the audience. Along the way, I developed a few key rules that I follow when delivering an elevator speech.

1) Who are you? – Identify yourself, your position, and your farm or business clearly. Have a business card and attach it to marketing and sales material.

2) What are you offering? – Clearly identify what you are offering for sale. “I have citrus” is a generic statement that I try not to use. A clearer statement would be, “today I am here to talk to you about our mandarin oranges and Meyer lemons”.

3) What makes you and your product unique or better than your competitors? – Prior to the pitch you need to have done your homework so that you can answer this question. Be clear and succinct. State facts.

4) What can you offer besides the product? – Merchandising materials, demo or sampling programs, listings on your website, product education to staff or customers, brand loyalty and recognition, custom or unique packaging. In essence, anything that will help the buyer (reseller) make the sale to their customer.

5) What is your price and what are your terms? – Again research. What are your costs in growing and delivering the product? What is your standard packaging? What are the wholesale and retail prices for your product? Can you deliver the product? What is the delivery cost for you? When and how do you expect to be paid? Know if you have room to negotiate going in, but don't state that you are negotiable up front. Let the buyer ask.

6) Why do they need you and your product? – This is your closing and the impression that you will leave with your buyer. Summarize clearly and concisely rules 2, 3, and 4. Be positive. I like to close with “I know that our products would be a great addition to your line, and I look forward to working with you”.

Developing an elevator speech takes time, research and commitment. You need to know your product and your business. You need to know your competition. Above all you need to know the customer and marketplace. I cannot emphasis enough the research that is needed to deliver a successful and positive pitch. The elevator speech is your commercial!

Posted on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 12:46 PM
  • Author: Robert Bonk
Webmaster Email: cecentralsierra@ucdavis.edu