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Your marketing funnel worked like it was supposed to, and you’ve got a sales call booked in your calendar. Every lead you get is important, especially the ones interested enough to book time to chat with you about what your service has to offer. And perhaps no call is more important in getting them to buy-in to your offering than the first pitch. What can you do to give you and your team the highest chance of success?
Because B2B sales deals are often quite large, you’ll need to build a great deal of trust with prospects for them to feel comfortable moving forward with your company. This means it's important to know your prospects, customize your approach, and be hyperconscious of both how they’re thinking about their problem and what they’re looking for in their meeting with you whenever you are preparing for a SaaS sales pitch.
In B2B sales, every meeting you take is going to feel different; each prospect comes in with a different set of needs, expectations, and preferences. Knowing how to prepare, adapt, and think on your feet as you learn more about the prospect is essential.
Research and preparation
Do your research! Nothing will help you better anticipate the needs of a prospect than doing some simple research and preparation and identifying which category of lead they fall into.
Who are they?
The most important thing you can do to set yourself up for success in an introductory sales meeting is simply getting to know your prospect as best you can before you sit down with them. LinkedIn will of course be your best friend in this scenario, providing additional information on their role, how long they’ve been at their company, where they are located, etc.
If you’ve set up your contact or meeting booking form correctly, you’ll hopefully already have most of the essential information you need to get a good sense of the value of this lead and the approach you’ll need to take. Using the information they give you in combination with lead scoring and a complete set of customer personas will allow you to quickly and easily sort them into a prescribed category.
For each of the persona categories that your prospects fall into, you should prepare a pitch that is tailored to their pains, hopes, fears, and buying power. Are they concerned about doing their job well or helping those under them succeed? Do they have the power to authorize a purchase or will you need to speak to someone else first? Having these categories prepared in advance will make your call preparation process much faster.
Next, you’ll need to determine what the value of the lead is to you. This has to do primarily with whether and to what degree they fit with your ICP. Do they have the budget to move forward with your solution? Are they the right size? Are they operating in an industry that you service? This kind of lead scoring can also be largely automated through systems like HubSpot, Eloqua, Salesforce, and Marketo.
Do you have the right sales materials for them?
A critical tool in the toolbelt of a successful salesperson is a set of diverse sales materials. Pieces like whitepapers, eBooks, blogs, and industry reports can help prove your thought leadership. Meanwhile, testimonials, case studies, and one-pagers give the prospect additional context on what you do and show social proof that you can do it well. Coordinating with your marketing team on the content, design, and production of these pieces and establishing a healthy library as early as possible is crucial.
After you’ve gathered the materials you need, you’ll need to organize them by persona and stage of the buyer’s journey. Knowing when to deliver certain materials and who to deliver them is often just as important as the materials themselves. An eBook might be a great tool for the prospect to learn a little more about their problem and how they could potentially solve it, but if they’ve already determined they have a problem and are simply choosing between competitors, a testimonial will be a much more effective resource to share.
Whether you offer some of these materials to the prospect before, during, or after your call may vary depending on your preference, past experience, and the current situation, but having them on hand ahead of time will be essential regardless.
Starting the call
It’s time for the call. You’re ready to join the meeting. You would feel nervous, but luckily you’ve done your research, prepared a pitch, and have a set of materials that fit their persona. From this point forward, however, there are a lot of different ways the call could go, and you’ll need to think on your feet. Let’s walk through a few possible scenarios and some tips on how to approach different types of conversations.
A strong suggestion:
Always join the meeting at least five minutes before it begins. This will helpfully not only ensure that you never join late but should the prospect be excited enough to join early, you’ll want to be right there to greet them. If they’re offering you extra time, take it!
Perhaps they changed their mind, perhaps they got their meetings mixed up, perhaps they just forgot. No-shows will be a common occurrence when you’re fielding a large volume of sales calls, and how you deal with them will be largely dependent on the value you see in that particular opportunity.
Sending reminder emails in advance of the call and, if the prospect does not attend, during the call, will be helpful for reducing the incidence of no-shows, but they cannot be entirely avoided. Staying for 10 to 15 minutes to give them an appropriate amount of time to join late is recommendable, as is sending a follow-up email after the call offering to reschedule. Whether you want to continue to follow up with them past this point, however, should be decided based on whether you believe they are truly a good fit and could turn into a good customer.
Introductions and icebreakers
An important thing to remember when you’re leading a sales call is that this is probably the prospect’s first chance to see the personality and humanity behind your brand. Leaping right into a scripted, robotic introduction and pitch, then, would be squandering this opportunity. Instead, start with some genuine conversation and icebreakers to warm up into a conversation before introducing yourself and your colleagues.
This is also your chance to build some additional credibility for your brand and yourself, what you know, who you’ve worked with, and what you’ve achieved. Citing specific customer examples which are similar to the prospects’ will also be impactful here.
After you’ve laid the framework for the conversation and given them a little more information about your company, invite them to explain their situation and what they’re looking for. This is the most valuable portion of an introductory sales call for you as it gives you the most insight into how they perceive their issue and what they’re expecting out of you and the meeting. One of the worst things you can do in this situation is to interrupt or stop them.
Though you’ve prepared for a certain type of conversation given their position and need, don’t assume precisely the direction or scope of the call and be ready to pivot your approach based on the information they’ve just given you
When they’ve finished, they’ll often ask something of you. To see the product, learn more about your business, browse pricing options. This will typically be the time to start the pitch.
To pitch or not to pitch
Before leaping into your rehearsed, fine-tuned, time-tested pitch, think about whether that is the natural direction of your conversation so far. At its best, a sales call is just a conversation. They have a need, you have a solution; you’re just trying to figure out if you are a good fit for each other.
Instead of starting on your pitch, asking follow-up questions and letting the exchange of information happen naturally and be just as informative as a formal pitch.
It also may be the case that it is clear right out that your two companies are not a great fit, and in this case, it’s important to be upfront about potential blockers right off the bat. Budget, technographics, and geographics, for example, can all be definite and insurmountable blockers to working together and in these cases, no further explanation and selling is needed.
In many other instances, however, a pitch will indeed be the most efficient, effective way to give the prospect a good idea of what you do and why your solution is the right choice for them. Since pitching will be the right call for most introductory sales meetings, let’s look at some key points to avoid when you’re going through your own pitch.
At their core, most of the issues that arise during a pitch stem from not being flexible and adaptable enough. While you’re going through your sales deck, be sure to avoid:
Talking too much
It’s a simple piece of advice, but one that’s not always heeded. As previously discussed, nothing will be more valuable in this call than hearing the customer express their pains and hopes in their own words. That’s why it’s important to take pauses, ask your prospect questions, and give them time to ask questions of you.
Speaking for five or ten minutes straight without interacting with the prospect will likely induce boredom, distraction, and general unenthusiasm—the three horsemen of a failed sales call. It also prevents you from pivoting to topics that are more relevant or interesting to the prospect as they arise in your conversation.
Particularly in B2B SaaS sales, when products are not always as visually and tangibly as a new pair of shoes or the newest iPhone, the salesperson is crucial for making the offering as intriguing as possible. If you aren’t maintaining your energy and interest throughout the call, you can hardly expect the prospect to either.
It’s easy for a well-rehearsed pitch to become robotic and overly polished but it’s important for it to sound natural. Try not to write out a specific script but rather a loose set of points to touch on and challenge yourself to change up your delivery to intentionally keep it as unstructured as possible. Let your energy carry the conversation instead of a script.
Applying one pitch to every call
As mentioned, a successful salesperson will have multiple pitches in their toolbelt to match the different personas they’ll be pitching to. The information you’ve gained from research in advance of your call will give you the info you need to determine which persona, and thus which pitch, would be a good fit for them. Now that you’re in the call, however, don’t be afraid to tweak your pitch as you learn more about the prospect.
Ending the call
After you’ve made your pitch or otherwise presented your pitch, it will be time to start transitioning back into a more casual interaction. Here is where you need to open the conversation back up and include them even more to get their thoughts and lay out next steps.
Much as you did at the beginning of the call, take this opportunity to show the personality behind your brand and be sure to leave a good impression on the prospect. Bring up points from earlier in the call, offer resources that would add value to them in their unique situation, and offer additional time for them to ask more questions. Be sure that they walk away with all the information they came looking for.
You’ll want to stay conscious of the end time of your call at this point as well. Be considerate of the time that a prospect has offered you and don’t extend it without apologizing or asking them if they could stay on the call longer.
As you are wrapping up your call, take time to set expectations for what the next steps of the sales process will look like. If a call went well, you may be able to secure time for another call, demo, or purchase right then and there, but be prepared for even the best-fit prospects to need additional time to speak with others, consider options, and get back to you at a later time.
After the call
After you’ve closed the call, you should follow up with the prospect with a customized email preferably on the same day that the call took place. In this email, answer any questions you may not have been able to answer at the time, provide additional resources you think they may find helpful, and reiterate the key points of the call.
Recording your sales calls is important for learning how to refine your pitch, sharing the meeting with other stakeholders, and remembering specifically what you said during the meeting. If you’ve done so, now is a great time to revisit important points when crafting your follow-up to make sure you are not forgetting any answers or materials you promised to send along.
Learning and refining
With time, you’ll continue to learn more about your audience and what kind of language, content, and approach they respond to. And it’s important that you are consistently turning these learnings into improvements in your introductory calls. SaaS is a rapidly expanding and evolving field, so even if you find a great pitching method one year, it may be rendered ineffective the next by new tastes and expectations among your audience. There are always ways to make your pitch clearer, more engaging, and more convincing.
For more on B2B SaaS sales, check out our resources on ”Optimizing your B2B SaaS sales funnel metrics,” “Key metrics for B2B SaaS marketing and sales leaders,” and “How to incentivize your sales team for success.”