The term “sales pitch” might be a little old school, but the concept is not. At its core, a sales pitch is just a way to explain your product or service’s value to the buyer. Call it what you will, but educating prospects on an offering’s worth is still central to sales.
What has gone out of style are sales pitches that are long, product-focused, and boring. Twitter has effectively shortened our attention spans to statements that contain 140 or fewer characters. If buyers can find the time to hear your sales pitch at all, it had better be compelling and to the point.
In his book To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink presents six types of modern day sales pitches that act as updates to the classic elevator pitch. Try to translate your product or service’s value proposition into each of these six formats so you can whip out one or another when appropriate.
6 Types of Sales Pitches for the Modern Seller
1) The One-Word Sales Pitch
Can you boil your entire presentation down to one word? It might seem silly, but consider the power of a brand that has complete command of one word. “When anybody thinks of you, they utter that word. When anybody utters that word, they think of you,” Pink explains.
For example, HubSpot’s one-word pitch would be “inbound.” President Obama’s one-word pitch during his 2012 reelection campaign was “forward.” Think of the single word that represents your offering and use it as a punchy tagline.
2) The Question Sales Pitch
This one should only be used when you are confident that your buyer either somewhat or completely understands the value of your product. Instead of phrasing your pitch as a statement (“Strategic outsourcing will reduce your company’s costs”), reformulate it as a question (“Would strategic outsourcing reduce your company’s costs?”).
Why does this work? “Question pitches prompt people to come up with their own reasons for agreeing (or not),” Pink writes. “And when people summon their own reasons for believing something, they endorse the belief more strongly and become more likely to act on it.” This is the upside. But if prospects aren’t convinced of your offering’s value, a question pitch might invite additional scrutiny (“Would outsourcing benefit us? I’m not sure … “). So it’s critical to carefully assess the buyer’s mindset before using this tactic.
3) The Rhyming Sales Pitch
Dr. Seuss was on to something. “Rhymes boost what linguists and cognitive scientists call ‘processing fluency,’ the ease with which our minds slice, dice, and make sense of stimuli,” Pink explains. And this has a surprising effect: Studies have found that rhyming statements are perceived to be more accurate than non-rhyming, even when both options convey the exact same message, Pink notes. So before you dismiss rhyming as child’s play, take into consideration that a simple couplet could make the difference between a done deal and a competitive steal.
4) The Subject Line Sales Pitch
Salespeople are masters at the art of crafting intriguing email subject lines. So take that expertise and apply it to your sales pitches. Pink writes that strong email subject lines follow three principles: utility, curiosity, and specificity. However, you shouldn’t try to add elements of each into a single email header or sales pitch. According to Carnegie Mellon research, “your email subject line should be either obviously useful or mysteriously intriguing, but probably not both,” Pink writes. It’s also noteworthy that the more information buyers are contending with, the less effective curiosity-provoking subject lines become.
The actionable takeaway? Craft two separate sales pitches — one useful, and one intriguing — and then layer specificity onto both. Deploy the first if the prospect is obviously pressed for time, or is buried in information from rival vendors or internal stakeholders. Use the second if they are just beginning their buying journey and can move at a more leisurely pace.
5) The Twitter Sales Pitch
Tweeting is an exercise in clarity and brevity. What would your sales pitch sound like if you only had 140 characters to work with? Formulating a Twitter pitch forces you to think critically and creatively about the main highlights of your offering. It can also help you trim the unnecessary fat from your sales presentation. Keep in mind that while it’s easy for you to remember all the features of your offering (you do sell it, after all), a laundry list of functions is bound to overwhelm and confuse prospects.
6) The Pixar Sales Pitch
Toy Story. Up. Finding Nemo. WALL-E. Pixar is a master at creating not just stunning visuals but stories that resonate with children and adults alike.
Although the stars of the studio’s movies range from robots to sea life to talking toys, each has a similar story structure at its core. Former Story Artist Emma Coats released this narrative template that can be applied to all of Pixar’s films:
Once upon a time _____. Every day, _____. One day _____. Because of that, _____. Because of that, _____. Until finally, _____.
By phrasing your sales pitch in this way, it automatically becomes a story, which top salespeople know stick in people’s heads much better than a dry recitation of facts. In addition, this template makes it easy for sellers to place their prospects front and center — and buyers should always be the hero of a sales story.
Here’s what this type of sales pitch might look like in action:
Once upon a time, staffing agencies struggled to find the quality talent they needed. Every day, they checked a number of social media sites and sifted through dozens of resumes searching for needles in the haystacks. One day, a new type of software was invented that automated this search process and quickly returned qualified candidates based on sophisticated algorithms. Because of that, staffing agencies were able to more efficiently fill open positions. Because of that, they were able to serve more clients without taking a toll on productivity. Until finally, the agencies vastly increased their number of customers and amount of new revenue.
What’s your favorite type of sales pitch? Share in the comments.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2015 and has been updated for freshness.