A sales pitch comes in all shapes and sizes.  There is the good, the bad and the ugly.  Unfortunately, far too many fall into the ugly category. 

Today’s consumers and corporate buyers are sophisticated, savvy and are well connected in their industries. This means companies, large and small, need to be at the top of their game when pitching their company’s competitive advantage. This becomes even more important when selling to international companies choosing from best-in-class suppliers from the world who are aggressively pursuing their business.

My main goal as EDC’s Global Trade Director of Mining is to work directly with the procurement “influencers” in international mining companies to better understand their future needs.  This intel puts me in a better position to identify and promote potential Canadian companies that provide the products or services those companies need and want. 

One of the most important things I’ve learned from working with thousands of suppliers and some of the biggest international buyers is this: many fantastic Canadian suppliers are overlooked because they are not effectively and succinctly communicating their key competitive advantage. 

With that in mind, here are my Top 4 Tips to creating an effective and winning sales pitch.

1. Cut to the chase

If you take away one piece of information from this article remember this:  Your unique selling proposition is what will interest buyers the most.  Buyers are overwhelmed with information, often receiving as many as 2,000 proposals a month. You need to get to the point and provide solid facts to back your claims.  Make sure to highlight landmark projects, countries you’re successfully selling to and the benefits clients are realizing after implementing your solution. 

The bottom line is that you need to understand your unique selling proposition and succinctly communicate it in your pitch. 

A well-crafted sale proposition will differentiate your company from your competitors, and clearly communicate how your product or service can solve their unique challenge. This needs to be summed up in a few paragraphs or in a few minutes if you are meeting face to face.

You can’t just say your product reduces costs or improves safety. You have to say why and how and then prove it.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What problem or need does my product/service solve?
  • What is unique about my product/service and how does it compare to the competition?
  • Why is my company successful?
  • What is it about my solution that helps me win contracts?

2. How does your solution solve their problem?

Always try to “connect the dots” from your product’s benefit to your potential buyer’s projects and business strategy.   Know your potential customer by reading up on their latest news, monitoring their social media channels and taking note of what they support or focus on. If they say operational efficiencies and cost reductions are key priorities, make sure to stress how your technology, product or service can do this.

Be prepared to answer technical questions on your company’s capacity, certifications, and whether testing can be arranged. This is a frequent first step to an actual sale.

When it comes to logistics always show up early and be prepared to manage the unexpected. If you experience technical difficulties, be prepared to continue effectively despite this.

3. Demonstrate you can operate locally

In markets where there are language barriers, cultural differences and unfamiliar ways of doing business, using a local partner can be advantageous. In many cases, potential buyers require an agent or distributor to ensure ongoing local support.

Good partners will be familiar with local conditions and provide a multitude of important services such as after-sales support, managing distribution channels, preparing documentation and exhibiting goods at trade shows.

Do not underestimate the time needed to conduct due diligence on any potential partner, distributor or agent.  Make sure to check references, including other clients they have worked with.  Network with other suppliers and consult with Global Affairs Canada (GAC) in the region.

It’s also critical to show that you are committed to the market by taking the time to do face-to-face meetings. In many markets developing that strong personal relationship based on trust and mutual respect comes before a business deal.

If you attend a trade show or visit a prospective customer, work with a translation partner to produce sales collateral in the native language. It’s a simple task that will have positive results.

4. Follow up, follow up, and keep following up

Follow up immediately so your hot prospect doesn’t turn cold.  Set up the next meeting or agree to a time for the next phone call.    Don’t be put off if you don’t hear back; it doesn’t necessarily mean lack of interest. 

Generally, it takes more than 12 contacts before a sale occurs, so continued contact is extremely important.  This is especially true in regions like Latin America, where building a relationship with a buyer is a necessary part of making a deal.

Be patient. Building your brand in a new market takes time. It may require several years of engagement and multiple meetings so be persistent and make sure your representative is knowledgeable and can answer technical questions if needed.

Try using tech to reach your prospects more effectively: take advantage of apps like Whatsapp which is the go-to- communication tool in South America.  You will often hear back immediately from a contact using this app versus email.

First impressions count

It’s an old-fashioned adage but still true that first impressions count. You have about 2 minutes to get a buyer’s attention and you can only do that by being prepared with a short, concise ‘elevator pitch’ spelling out how your company can help your buyer get what they need at a price they are willing to pay.

Make your first impression count in the most important way of all; future sales for your company.