So you’re getting ready to pitch a prospect---that’s awesome! When you’re preparing to make the pitch, it’s helpful to know some of the most common mistakes to avoid. We’ve made plenty of business pitching mistakes over the years that we don't want you to have to repeat.
These are the top 5 biggest business pitch mistakes we’ve made, and how you can avoid them:
1) Cold-calling a prospect.
Let’s be real: no one likes to be “sold” to. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a cold-call sale, you know that it doesn’t feel good… and the chances are, you didn’t make that purchase. Or, if you did make the purchase, you resented the salesperson for it. Neither are a very appealing scenario when you’re in the world of business.
Attempting to sell to prospects before they’ve had a chance to get to know you is a sure way to lose out on a valuable opportunity. Instead, you want to warm up your prospect. Get to know them better. Understand what they want and need from you. You’ll get far better results when you pitch people who you already have a meaningful relationship with, as opposed to shooting in the dark with cold-call pitches.
And the best part? You’ll enjoy pitching a whole lot more! Win-win.
2) Being unprepared for answering tough questions.
There’s nothing like meeting with a potential client to discuss their project, only to have them ask you a question that you have NO IDEA how to answer. I’m pretty sure some of my most cringe-worthy moments have been those looooooong moments of silence where I stared at the prospect, my cheeks slowly turning red, as I tried to search for something---anything!---to say that would sound somewhat intelligent.
The more that you can prepare in advance, the better. You need to consider every meeting with a prospect as something similar to a job interview: you’d be well-prepared for attending that, wouldn’t you?
Do your research in advance and plan out exactly what you’ll say to the prospect when they ask you tough questions. You can write your answers down ahead of time so that you have the wording in mind, and you can even rehearse your answers ahead of time. Having them written down is perfect for referring to if it’s a phone meeting (although you won’t necessarily want to be looking down at your notes if you’re meeting the prospect in person).
But… how do you even know what types of questions potential clients will ask you? How can you prepare for the tough questions if you don’t know what they might throw at you?
We’ve worked with dozens upon dozens of clients over the years, and we’ve got a pretty good handle on the typical questions that clients ask. We even have a few pat answers to give prospects when we don’t know the answer! You can get the full scoop on common questions clients will ask---plus suggestions on how to diplomatically handle them (and sound like you know what you’re talking about)---inside Pitching Clients 101.
3) Not being clear on pricing or deliverables.
Clarity is key! Communication plays an essential role in business interactions, and if you aren’t clear with what you’ll deliver on, your next set of action steps, or what type of pricing model you use, you could run into a lot of problems down the line.
One of the worst feelings in the world is walking away from a pitch meeting and realizing that you have no idea what steps to take next (this has happened too many times to me). If you aren’t clear and upfront with prospects, you’ll have all kinds of problems… and those problems can build into big rifts with clients. Been there, done that.
Pricing can feel awkward to talk about with a prospect, but it needs to come up. If you aren’t clear from the beginning how much it costs or what kind of budget they’re working with, then you’re going to waste both of your time if they can’t afford your services. You should both be on the same page about the deliverables of the project and the estimated cost of deliverables so as to avoid miscommunication.
In Pitching Clients 101, we provide a few techniques you can borrow to discuss pricing with clients in a way that doesn’t make you feel awkward or uncomfortable.
4) Not being confident in our own abilities.
When Dan was first hired on by a large company years ago, it was his responsibility to pitch a prospect. But on that first pitching call, he felt completely out of his depth. It didn’t take long for him to suggest to the prospect that they go a different route.
It’s important to understand what your strengths are and to have a realistic idea of what you are and are not capable of at this stage of your business. Was Dan capable of doing that work for this prospect? Maybe not. But perhaps if he had more confidence in his own abilities, he might have realized that he was more capable than he thought.
When you aren’t entirely certain of your own abilities, your client will sense your hesitations and lack of confidence. They might decide not to hire you after all, or they might try to negotiate a much lower price point for your work.
5) Not thinking about things from the client’s perspective.
It’s easy to get caught up in why this client and their project would be the perfect fit for your business, and what would make the project so exciting for you to work on. But… to be honest, your client doesn’t really care about that. At all. What they care about is this: what you can do for them.
This is a mistake I used to make (and have seen many others make) when writing cover letters for resumes, way back in the day when I was looking for a 9 to 5 job. No wonder I wasn’t getting too many companies contacting me!
If you only focus on why you’re looking forward to working with them, and how you want to learn more about XYZ by working on their project, then they’re probably going to look elsewhere. Frame everything from your client’s perspective and what makes you a good fit for them---rather than what makes them a good fit for you---and you’ll be much better off.
Bonus tip: Forgetting to discuss possible obstacles.
When you’re pitching a client, it might not seem necessary to discuss late fees or rush charges. The project seems straightforward enough, after all, and you trust this prospect. They seem like a good person! You don’t need to worry about late fees or rush charges.
But… then they tell you they need a particular part of the project completed within the next three days, or they don’t end up paying you for weeks---or MONTHS. What can you do? You forgot to write that into your contract. Whoops.
You can avoid these issues altogether by being really clear upfront about all of this. As I said earlier, communication is crucial! You may or may not wish to discuss this at your first pitching meeting, but you’ll certainly want to get it out in the open fairly early on in your relationship so that everyone’s on the same page.
Want to learn how to pitch clients successfully and confidently?
In Pitching Clients 101, you'll get exactly that!
You’ll learn how to…
- Stop freaking out about pitching clients
- Find the RIGHT clients for you and your unique business
- Learn real-life examples (and wording!) you can use to reach out to clients
- Take action on pitching clients
- Feel more comfortable + confident with the idea of pitching (yes, even if you’re an introvert!)