Topic overview


Small business owner making a sales pitch to prospective customers.

A pitch or a sales presentation is a great opportunity to progress or complete a sale. Pitching can be anything from a formal presentation to a group of corporate clients to a more informal chat with a new prospect. No matter who the audience is, a presentation is a golden opportunity to turn a sales lead into a new customer.

Sales presentation planning

Advance planning is key to making a successful business presentation. To start with, you need to know who your audience will be so that you can tailor your presentation to their needs. A technical briefing for experts will be quite different to a high-level sales presentation to the customer's managing director.

Before getting into any detailed planning of the presentation, try to get an idea of what the customer is expecting. Are you going to give a formal sales pitch or hold a more open discussion? How long will the meeting be? What pricing information will you need to provide?

Structuring your sales pitch

A good sales presentation focuses on a few key points that support your overall message. These must be presented in a logical sequence, together with any supporting evidence or visual aids that will make your pitch more convincing. Don't be afraid to reiterate your main points in your introduction and again as you wrap up.

Once you have the structure organised, it's worth drawing up notes you can speak from and practising. Try to build some flexibility into your presentation in case a particular point doesn't work well, you run short of time or you have any technical issues.

Once you are happy with your presentation, write down and answer any questions you think you may be asked. Ask a trusted friend to listen to your speech and get them to ask you some questions too. Ask them to give you feedback on your answers to their questions. Is there anything you have not made clear?

Delivering an effective sales presentation

It's natural to be nervous when you are about to deliver the presentation. Try to turn this nervous energy into excitement in order to convey your enthusiasm for your subject. Take deep breaths before you start and make a conscious effort to speak slowly to help overcome the appearance of nerves. Projecting your voice and using confident body language can also help improve the impression you make.

Aim to engage the audience rather than just speaking at them; make eye contact with members of your audience and, if appropriate, ask them questions and use their names to involve them. Try to avoid distractions such as giving them handouts during the presentation or being interrupted by ringing phones.

Dealing with audience questions

Once you have finished your presentation, you should encourage feedback and any further questions. You may need to overcome a few objections; prepare for them in advance so they don't stop you in your tracks.

From time to time you will be asked questions you don't know the answer to. It is best, in these circumstances, to be honest rather than trying to bluff or waffle. A suitable response might be: "I don't have that information to hand right now, but I will send it through to you later today."

Don't dismiss or brush off questions. Listen carefully and you will be able to answer both the initial query and address any underlying barriers to making a sale. Last but not least, make sure you agree what the next step will be.

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.