Skip to content

How to Give a Sales Pitch: A Guide for Founders (with Examples)

businesswoman giving a sales pitch

“Never forget that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression—with investors, with customers, with PR, and with marketing.”
– Natalie Massenet, Founder Net-a-Porter

Seven seconds. That’s all you get. That’s the time it takes for a prospect to decide whether they will pay attention to you or not.

There’s nothing more precious than attention these days. If your sales pitch is getting the deer-in-the-headlights stare, it needs work.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to give a sales pitch and craft an irresistible one – a pitch that gets leads interested, engaged, and wanting to know more about you and your services. We’ll also go over specific examples of good vs. bad pitches.

But first, think about what a pitch accomplishes. If you were in line for coffee and started a conversation with someone attractive, you wouldn’t discuss the weather and then follow up with a marriage proposal. Even if you were hitting it off, the next step is to offer an invitation to connect, like a lunch date. Something that would likely lead to them saying yes, I’d like to meet you again.

That’s no different from a sales pitch. It’s not love at first sight; it’s getting someone interested just enough to speak with you again and land a full sales presentation.

You Have Seconds to Make an Impression

We are wired to make snap decisions. It’s not a character flaw or a personality trait; it’s a survival instinct. Scientists tell us our ancestors had to quickly assess the mysterious rustling in the bush. Was it a tasty goat, or a hungry lion? The bulk of our ancestors ran away and voilà! Humans still exist.

Part of this survival instinct is a portion of our brain called the RAS or reticular activating system. It responds to our conscious brain’s commands to filter out millions of data points and pay attention only to the information we tell it to. It’s why you can hear your name called out in a crowded party or suddenly see the type of car you’re interested in everywhere.

In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell writes about a study performed by psychologist Nalina Ambady, where she measured how quickly students would judge a new teacher. “Ambady once gave students three ten-second videotapes of a teacher – with the sound turned off – and found they had no difficulty at all coming up with a rating of the teacher’s effectiveness. And then Ambady cut the clips back to five seconds, and the ratings were the same.” [source: Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, (New York: Little, Brown and Company; 2005)]

Besides making fast judgments for survival, we are also all dealing with a bombardment of information. According to one study, we consume the equivalent of 34 gigabytes of data daily. With the advent of social media and an increasingly hyper-connected society, it seems attention spans are getting shorter.

We are focused on our personal needs and desires – focused on our problems and how to solve them – and, by the way, we’re also overwhelmed by distractions.

And you wonder why no one is paying attention to your sales pitch?

People are constantly assessing new images, people, and input, and wondering, deep down, “Is this task/thing/person relevant or not?” Most of the time, the answer is “it’s not.”

It’s the same with this article. Probably not even one-third of the people who read the headline made it this far. (Thank you and congratulations on making to this point 😊 ).

With these smaller windows of attention, founders and salespeople have less time to intrigue leads and convey value. So learning how to command attention within a small amount of time is more critical than ever.

Don’t Just ‘Wing It’ (How NOT to Give a Pitch)

As I have said before, you don’t have a business if you don’t have anyone buying. This doesn’t mean you have to be as good at selling as a full-time professional sales rep. Having a well-crafted sales pitch will get you one step closer to making a sale, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that designing a sales pitch is easy – just writing a few lines about what you do and calling it done doesn’t cut it.

Sales pitches aren’t some sort of formal busywork salespeople have to do. Instead, they are an essential asset in your sales arsenal and have a direct impact on your business’s success. There are more bad ways to pitch than good.

For instance, when my cofounder and I pivoted one of our businesses, our consulting agency E-Nor, over 10 years ago, we began selling analytics services. Unfortunately, most people didn’t know what analytics was.

When attending networking events, I’d enthusiastically say, “We have an analytics consulting company.” I’ve seen fewer blank faces in a mannequin warehouse. They did not know what I was talking about. Of course, I hardly got any follow-up invitations. I was wasting my time.

What did I do wrong?

The lack of insight from data was a legitimate pain point for our target audience that analytics could solve. Business owners and marketers had terabytes of data from their websites, emails, and call centers; plus, they didn’t know how to mine value from this massive data mountain. We could help them!

Despite the clear unmet need, I failed to connect my value proposition to the prospect’s problem. Sadly, I lost many of those early, highly qualified leads.

How We Fixed Our Sales Pitch

After much frustration, my business partner and I recognized the issue. The valuable service we provided didn’t matter. What mattered was showing our prospects how it helped them in relatable terms – we needed to show how we would help solve their problems.

We sat down and went through many iterations of our sales pitch. We finally came up with a concise pitch that would clearly express what we do. It was time to test our new conversation starter: “We help businesses derive actionable insights from data.”

Though it had room for improvement, it was tremendously better than the weak we-are-analytics-consultants pitch. The transformation in the response we got was dramatic. Every other conversation where we used this new pitch seemed to land a meeting, leading to new clients and successful case studies.

It was all because we stopped highlighting what we do and began focusing instead on the benefit for the client.

Now that you see the power of sales pitches, let’s examine them more closely.

Elements of a Perfect, Effective Sales Pitch

Let’s step back and look at the definition of a sales pitch. A sales pitch is a message or presentation intended to highlight the benefits of a product or service and convince a potential customer to move forward in the sales process. Seems simple enough.

As the definition explains, a sales pitch is an act of communication, whether written or spoken, short or long, aimed at convincing a lead:

  • That your service has value
  • That you are a trusted resource to deliver that value
  • To take action (through a call to action)

You can create an effective sales pitch by investing the time and energy to tailor your messaging to resonate with your lead. Part of this tailoring comes from what you know about the psychographics of your target audience.

Answer these 3 questions:

  • What is the top-of-mind problem you solve for your clients?
  • In what way is solving this problem most valuable for them?
  • What are some other ways solving this problem improves their business or life? (Think of benefits like freeing time for other activities, peace of mind, reduced stress, delivering results for their boss/board, increasing the bottom line, etc.)

When you have crafted your initial draft, let it sit for a day then revisit it. Can you make it more concise? Try different verbs and adjectives that add a bit more punch. Ask a few friends for feedback.

Sales Pitch Examples

Here are a few examples of bad sales pitches and ways to make them better.

Sales Pitch 1: Document Shredding

Poor: We shred documents for corporate clients.

While shredding is still an important service, it doesn’t really communicate how what you do should be important to the client or what is top of mind for them.

Better: We provide onsite document security services on a set schedule so founders and managers can have peace of mind.

Remember, the goal is to start a conversation and pique curiosity. If the prospect thinks they know what you do (and that they don’t need your service), then the conversation stops. The second version talks about two key interests to spark conversation: document security and less stress.

Sales Pitch 2: Health Coach

Poor: I help middle-aged women get healthy.

Again, another in-demand service. The problem is it’s too in demand, and there’s nothing here that differentiates the pitcher from the cornucopia of health and fitness solutions.

Better: I help women over 40 rediscover their best selves.

This pitch bypasses the diet-and-exercise imagery most people will think of when they hear the first pitch. Instead, it connects to a deep desire of this target audience – to connect back with themselves and their own well-being, especially for those who’ve raised a family. Again, if the listener/reader is in the target audience (or knows someone who is), they will want to know more.

Sales Pitch 3: Social Media Management

Poor: We manage social media for tech startups.

It’s great that this pitch focuses on a narrow niche, but what it doesn’t do is connect the dots for the prospect. Many people believe social media management is just a matter of posting regularly – something any intern or admin employee can do.

Better: We use social media to increase engagement and quality inbound leads for tech startups.

This pitch invites the lead into a conversation to learn how a professionally managed social media presence can lead to a boost in sales.

Sales Pitch 4: Consultant (Real-Life Example)

For a real-world example, I found a consultant’s pitch on LinkedIn.

Poor: Consultant helping entrepreneurs create sound projects. (Modified to protect anonymity).

This one isn’t terrible, but it certainly could be improved. The language is ambiguous. How do they help? What does “sound project” mean? What type of projects? How does that improve the entrepreneur’s situation?

Better: Helping construction entrepreneurs save time, money, and frustration with their most important work.

Assuming this person helps with projects (and not audio engineering), we narrowed his niche so it’s no longer a catch-all and specified how helping with projects is valuable to the prospect. For clarity, their specific niche could be almost any industry, but the point is the same: show how your expertise benefits the end user.

The Best Sales Pitch Effectiveness Test

Maybe as you were reading, you thought of a few ways to rewrite your pitch. Great! But you can only do so many edits and revisions. The best test for your new sales pitch? Try it out.

Meet with people, deliver your pitch, and gauge their reaction. Avoid the eternal perfectionism cycle. Real-life feedback is the best evidence of being on the right track.

But don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Remember that pitches don’t need to produce an immediate sale. Success means that you’ve engaged, educated, and inspired your leads to take that first step toward a successful sales process.

If you don’t have a sales process yet, make sure you check out my video “The Ultimate Guide to Sales Funnels for Consulting & Service Businesses.”

Three Tips to Improve Your Sales Pitch

Pitching is not a one-and-done effort. Just like everything else in life, the more you do it the better you get at it…

1- Practice Your Pitch Daily

Once you have your 10 or 30-second pitch written down, start practicing for 30 minutes every day for two weeks. Imagine a recent lead you’d met for the first time standing in front of you. You can practice in front of a mirror or record yourself and then play it back. Listen carefully and think about your passion, energy, and compassion while you’re giving these pitches. Try to make them as genuine and natural as you can. Note any issues and adjust your pitch accordingly.

You need to practice it as if you’re actually giving it to someone. If you don’t want to stand in front of a mirror, practice the pitch while you’re driving, or if you are on a hike. The idea is that you need to practice every day until the pitch becomes second nature.

2- Find Great Sales Pitches

You must see examples of good sales pitches frequently so you can learn from it. An easy way to identify good pitches is through looking at successful salespeople’s pitches.

You can of course read about it in books or watch some YouTube videos; that’s helpful as well. If you can see someone pitching in action, someone in your industry, or even a competitor, that’s even better. I’m a big proponent of attending networking events. I was just at one a couple of weeks ago and met over 15 people, all of whom were business owners and I was quiet for the first 20 minutes or so, just listening and taking mental notes (and when no one was looking, I’d quickly write notes on my phone so I don’t forget about the people I was meeting). Even after all these years in business and sales, I find it fascinating how business owners share their stories and engage potential leads.

3- Research and Learn

Search through the internet and read every page of your direct competitors’ websites and social media channels. Especially those who have been around longer than you have and are successful. I’m not saying you should copy everything they do blindly; this could backfire since not everything might apply to what you do and not everything a competitor is doing could be right or relevant. But look for how they highlight the benefits of their offerings, note how they’re differentiating themselves, and then incorporate those into your approach.

Key Takeaways: Sales Pitch Best Practices

  • You have a crucial 7-second window for capturing attention in a world overloaded with information.
  • A well-crafted sales (or elevator) pitch is essential for business success.
  • Shift from self-centered pitches to client-centric value propositions.
  • Refine a sales pitch by aligning it with the prospect’s needs and problems.
  • Elements of a solid and effective sales pitch
    • Communication aimed at convincing leads of your expertise
    • Establishes trust and motivates action
    • Highlights the problems you solve and the value you bring
  • The ultimate test for your pitch: Try it out in real-life situations.

Next Steps:

  • Brainstorm all the problems you solve for your clients and how the benefits of those solutions add value for your clients.
  • Write a new pitch or revise your existing one, let it sit a day, and tweak it to be concise and impactful.
  • Test your new pitch on friends and colleagues.
  • Schedule to attend a networking event and get real-world feedback.
Feras Alhlou

Feras Alhlou

Feras has founded, grown, and sold businesses in Silicon Valley and abroad, scaling them from zero revenue to 7 and 8 figures. In 2019, he sold e-Nor, a digital marketing consulting company, to dentsu (a top-5 global media company). Feras has served as an advisor to 150+ other new startup businesses, and in his current venture, Start Up With Feras, he's on a mission to help entrepreneurs in the consulting and services space start and grow their businesses smarter and stronger.

Related Shorts

The Last Resort

Don’t Complicate It

Most Common New Founder Issue

When Bad Clients Pay Off

Rejecting Imperfect Clients

Annoying Clients

How Sales Works

Why You Should Tolerate Jerk Clients

Your Business’s Survival Depends on This

Earliest Way of Marketing

How 100 Clients Is Better than 1000

My Experience Hiring College Graduates

Money Is Where Premium Customers Are

Never Fall for This

When You Can’t Take on a Project 😢

How We Lost Half a Million Dollar Contract

Crises of Authority

How to Ruin Your Marketing Effort

Early American Marketers

Quality, Service, or Price?

How Much The Top Consulting Firms Made in 2023

Pricing Models for Your Service

Do You Treat All Clients Equally?

How to Double Revenue Without Increasing Marketing

7 Ways to Grow Your Business

How to Push Leads to Close Faster

Where Did Successful Founders Get Their First Clients?

Sales Doesn’t End After a Client Buys

How to Retain Clients Better

How to Impress Clients with Your Skills

How to Expand Your Business Vertically & Horizontally

6 Questions to Increase Clients

Why Your Sales Pitch Doesn’t Work

7 Signs You Need to Hire Someone

How to Increases Chances of Sales by 94%

New Sales Hire Closes 0 Deals

9 Best Practices When Hiring

What is Marketing by Harvard Business Review

How to Do Marketing for Small Businesses

The 4 Marketing Channels Small Businesses Can Use

Time vs. Money 💰 Marketing for Small Businesses

How to Win Leads & Influence Customers

How to Use a Marketing Budget for Small Businesses

When to Hire for Sales?

The Most Important Part of a Business Website

Why Everyone Hates Sales

Don’t Take Jerks as Clients

Are You Being Used for Contract Requirements?

Decoding Marketing vs. Sales Funnels for Professional Service Startups

Cracking the Code: Why Leads Aren’t Buying from Your Consulting Business

5 Reasons Your Leads Are Not Converting

High-Quality Content Is Still King!

MarTech Optimizes Your Social Media

Take Advantage of Cold Calling & Emailing

Marketing Doesn’t Need to Cost Anything

Struggling with Leads? Start a Sales Funnel

3 Social Media Tips for Consulting Startups

2 Simple Marketing Strategies for Consulting Startups

Learn Brand Positioning from your Competitors

What is Martech? Marketing Funnel Basics

Business Image Matters as Much as Qualifications

To Better Understand Clients, Do Primary Research

All Buying is Emotional at Some Level

2 Strategies that Land Clients

Narrower Target Audience = Consistent Leads

Go Above and Beyond to Delight Your First Clients

Use Your Network and Word-Of-Mouth To Get Leads

Learning and Knowledge Sharing Drives Consulting Growth