The imagined ideal model for making a sales pitch is a situation where one person would pitch to another. You might imagine yourself standing in front of a single customer or sitting across the desk from a potential client and building a relationship that leads to a sales agreement or contract. Often, however, we are faced with multiple decision-makers: a team of spouses or a family, a board of directors or even a selection committee (or some other type of committee). In a short time, we have to establish multiple connections or relationships and we have to try to appeal to different decision-making processes in order to get to an agreement. This can be as challenging and overwhelming as it is common.
It is important to have a clear understanding of exactly who will be making the purchasing decisions, as well as how the process works. If two people come in to make a product purchase, try to discern whether they both will decide on the actual purchase or if one has more “power” than the other. Sometimes, it will seem as though one person makes the actual purchase, but the other person will be the stronger and more influential decision-maker. Take the time to ask questions in order to determine how the purchasing will be made.
If you are making a pitch in front of a board of directors or a committee, do your homework in advance to determine how the decisions will be made. Watch out for making a solid and creative pitch for a group of people who “predetermine” who gets to pitch for the actual decision-makers. This can be a waste of your time and effort and, if possible, should be avoided. Instead, make sure the decision-makers are actually in the room when you make your pitch. Determine the hierarchy as best you can and develop a clear strategy for how to approach each component. Are decisions made by vote? consensus? or by some other process? Whatever you can learn before hand will make it more efficient for you to prepare your presentation.
It is important to treat everyone equally and not ignore or diminish individuals who might not be as “powerful” as others. How you treat everyone who hears your pitch or presentation will have a strong influence on whether or not you are successful in your pitch. While you will definitely want to focus on those who can make the actual purchasing decision, do not ignore those other people who might be part of the process on another level. Treat everyone with respect and appreciation in order to make the best impression.