Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in early 2020, the world has moved online, and business is no exception. Physical events and face-to-face meetings are still on hold in many places around the world and will be for an unspecified length of time.
However, if you want to meet your business goals, it’s essential to adjust and adapt to the new reality. And if you run a business-to-business (B2B) company, you will probably need to conduct your pitch meetings online for the foreseeable future.
Read on, and I’ll show you how to conduct the perfect virtual pitch meeting.
Choose the Right Presentation Software
There are numerous video conferencing and virtual presentation tools on the market. Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, and Google Hangouts are just some of the most popular solutions.
If you are new to giving virtual presentations, take the time to try out several different software options to choose the one that works best for your purposes. Whichever you choose, it should be easy to use for both you and your prospective client.
Test your software ahead of time to make sure it is working properly and that your internet connection can handle it. There’s nothing more annoying for a prospect than delaying the start of the meeting by fifteen minutes while you try to get your software to work.
Prepare and Rehearse
Preparation is the most important part of the presentation process, whether you’re presenting virtually or in person. Therefore, making sure you are adequately prepared is essential.
Research the prospective client as thoroughly as possible before you meet. You should know exactly what their company does, what their role is, and what problems they’re facing that your product or service will be able to solve. You can use LinkedIn, their company website and any preliminary communications to gather as much information as possible. Make notes and bring them to the meeting.
Another great way to gather information to prepare for your pitch is to ask the prospect to fill in a short questionnaire before you meet. Ask about their goals for the project, budget, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs.) Then use this information to structure your pitch.
If you have submitted a written sales proposal to the prospect, have a copy to hand so you can refer to it as needed.
Create an agenda and share it with the other party a few days before the meeting. This will let both parties know what to expect from the discussion and will give them time to add any additional agenda items they feel are necessary.
You should also create your presentation in plenty of time and practice it ahead of your meeting. You need to sound confident, authoritative, and knowledgeable. Knowing both your prospective customer and your product inside and out will help you. The rest is just practice!
Leave Time for Small Talk
Don’t jump straight into the business portion of the meeting as soon as you get onto the call. Building rapport is an essential part of growing business relationships. Therefore, leave a few minutes on the agenda for small talk. This is the kind of “getting to know you” chat about non-work subjects.
Small talk puts you both at ease and allows you to relate to each other as human beings rather than as salesperson and customer. The benefits it brings are more than worth the few minutes of extra time it takes.
What you talk about is less important than simply building that human connection. Just remember to stick to safe subjects!
A virtual business meeting is still a business meeting, and you must behave accordingly. This means being unscrupulously professional.
Dress smartly in the same clothing you’d wear if you were going to a face-to-face meeting. Sit up straight, face the camera, and smile. You should make sure your backdrop is either a neutral-colored wall or a tidy, professional-looking home office space. If this isn’t possible, use a virtual background.
Give the prospective client your full attention. Sending emails or answering your phone during a virtual meeting is just as rude as it would be in a physical meeting.
Finally, ensure you will not be disturbed. Tell your partner and children that you are going to be on a work call and unavailable, and close your office door.
Stick to the Agenda
Sticking to the agenda shows that you are prepared and makes sure you don’t miss anything important. It also shows respect for your prospect’s time. They are busy and have taken time out of their day to meet with you.
Therefore, make sure you follow the agenda in order and hit all your talking points. If any points need further expansion that you hadn’t anticipated, revisit them towards the end of the meeting or offer to send further information by email.
In general, a pitch meeting should last between half an hour and 45 minutes. Very rarely should it run for longer than an hour.
Do a Live Product Demo
“Show, don’t tell,” so the expression goes. If you are selling a product such as a piece of software, always do a live product demo if you can.
I often pitch my company’s eCommerce solutions to prospective clients who are looking to start an online business, and a live demo allows them to see how the products actually work in reality. Seeing a tool in action makes prospects feel much more confident that they’re making the right choice.
Keep it Conversational
Though you’ll be presenting to your prospective client about your product or service, the tone of the meeting should be conversational. In other words, don’t monologue or monopolize the conversation.
Pause between points to allow your prospect to ask a question or indicate their understanding. Ask them questions about their business and how particular features of your product could help them. Most importantly, listen actively and be attentive to their questions and concerns.
Focus on Value, Not Features
You naturally think your product or service is amazing and you want your prospective client to think the same thing. However, focusing exclusively on features is a mistake. Instead, you need to focus on the value the customer will get if they purchase your product or choose to work with you.
What problems does your prospect have, and how can you help them solve that problem? Paint a picture for them. How will their business improve and grow as a result of your services? If you have social proof such as testimonials from happy clients or quantifiable metrics from successful projects, this is the time to bring those out.
In other words, you’re not actually selling a product at all. You’re selling a vision. Put your prospect at the heart of the story you’re telling, and allow them to imagine a scenario where a critical business problem is solved.
End with a CTA
The call-to-action (CTA) is the most important part of any pitch. This is where you tell your prospect what you would like them to do.
In the context of a B2B pitch meeting, the CTA could take several different forms. In the best-case scenario, you might be asking them to sign on the dotted line and welcoming them aboard as a client by the end of the meeting. You might also offer them a free trial period of the product to see if they like it or diarize another meeting in a few weeks.
You must end the meeting with both of you knowing exactly what the next steps are. Leaving things hanging is an absolute no-no in business, so be clear and specific.
The follow up to a pitch meeting is almost as important as the meeting itself. Do not make the mistake of waiting for the prospect to contact you after the meeting. They are busy people and they may forget.
If the prospect expresses interest but does not buy, you can follow up a week or two after the meeting to see if they have any further thoughts or questions. At this stage, you might offer a free trial or a special time-limited signing discount, if you wish.
If the prospect decides to buy, follow up is still crucial. Check-in with them a few days after signing the contract to make sure they have everything they need and to ask if there is anything you can help them with.
You can conduct your follow-up by email, but a phone call is better. It feels more personal and you can have a real conversation instead of ending up buried at the bottom of someone’s packed inbox. Therefore, get a telephone number if you can and pick up the phone. There’s no substitute for the personal touch!
Better Pitch Meetings = More Sales
Knowing how to conduct great pitch meetings is an essential skill for a B2B marketer or business owner. You must learn how to build rapport, deliver a value-based sales pitch, and end with a CTA that converts those prospects into clients.
Delivering a great pitch meeting takes practice, and you might feel like you are back to square one if you have to learn how to do it all online. But the truth is, many of the elements of a face-to-face pitch meeting also apply online. Being polite, professional, knowledgeable, and confident will get you a long way. If you follow the tips I’ve outlined for you here and avoid the biggest pitch meeting mistakes, you have nothing to worry about.
So don’t be afraid of virtual pitch meetings. They might feel alien at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. Now go out there and wow your prospects!