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Tune up your SaaS sales pitch with a focus on clarity

Relationship Manager, Intercom

Sebastian McKenna Long

@sebmlintercom

Main illustration: Lisa Sy

For salespeople, your sales pitch is crucial – above all else, it must be crystal clear what you’re trying to sell and what the value is to your prospective customer.

This clarity from the start is critical, because that early impression shapes everything that follows – according to Forrester, the first viable vendor to reach a decision maker and set the buying vision has a 74% average close ratio. And the value of that sale compounds over time. In another survey by Gartner, nearly two-thirds of tech buyers said they would purchase more from existing providers if the value from their initial investment was clearly demonstrated.

“I like to think of the best pitches as working like a great pop song”

The importance of a great sales pitch is hard to overstate. I like to think of the best pitches as working like a great pop song – it has to be catchy and infectious, immediately resonating with your audience. And just like a great performer, your delivery has to be sharp and compelling every time.

Most of the best pop songs are fairly simple compositions – a snappy tune, a memorable chorus – and the same could be said of the best pitches: they quickly and concisely convey the value your prospect will get from your product. The prospect is left with an idea and vision that they can’t get out of their head.

Pitching complexity with simplicity

But that simplicity becomes more elusive when the product you’re pitching is increasingly complex and powerful – how can you cram all those useful features into a short, compelling pitch?

This is especially true in SaaS, where tools are constantly evolving to tackle bigger problems and more use cases. With a product as powerful as Intercom, for instance, which caters to sales, marketing and support teams, it’s not enough to simply rely on a feature list to sell the value.

“If you start listing all your features, you risk confusing and frustrating your prospects”

While it’s tempting to dazzle your prospects with the full range of your cool features and the full spectrum of problems you can solve, resist the temptation. After all, you wouldn’t play a symphony when your audience is in the mood for a pop song.

If you start listing all your features, you risk confusing and frustrating your prospects, that approach fails because it lacks the key quality of the best pitches – clarity. Customers don’t care about all the problems you can solve, after all. Instead, all they care about is whether you can you solve their problem.

Identify their job to be done

Remember, articulating how you are offering the solution to their problem is the equivalent of the catchy chorus that will stick in their head.

Of course, at some stage a deeper feature discussion will be required – those pop songs will develop into an album, so to speak – but early on you must be focused on clearly identifying their goal, their job to be done. So here’s how to write that three-chord classic:

  • Do a thorough, deep discovery process to identify their pain or opportunity fast.
  • Narrow down the features they will find most useful to three, and focus your pitch on those.
  • Get your customer to define the full steps to implementation on the first call, then work backwards through each step from signing the contract. This helps your prospect internalize what the sales process will look like, which makes the deal feel more tangible than abstract.
  • Make effective use of customer references. A well-placed, clearly explained story of how a similar company achieved a similar result turns theory into concrete reality.
  • Often in SaaS sales our contact or champion is not the ultimate decision maker, so get a sense of what their company’s business case format looks like, what the full buying circle is and who the ultimate decision-makers will be.
  • Include ROI estimates – if you spend X, you can expect Y by a certain date using this particular feature. This is what is going to stick out to the ultimate decision-makers.
  • Align expectations at the start of every discovery call with an upfront contract, outlining how long it will take, what you’re going to discuss and the likely outcomes.

Taken together, these steps will not only give you a clear roadmap/timeframe, but crucially will also put clarity in the mind of the customer. There is a good chance, especially early on in the buying process, that they haven’t considered the full steps in detail.

Your job here is to make it as simple as possible for your champion or contact to sell your product to their superiors. Data shows us that there are now about 6.8 decision-makers in each B2B SaaS deal, so the clearer your initial pitch, the easier it will be for your contact to make those persuasive arguments.

real-time-sales-CTA

Customize your pitch every time

It’s instructive how we approach this at Intercom. For instance, if we’re talking to a prospect who has a “sales” problem, there are 100 different Intercom features we can dazzle them with. But that can be overwhelming at the start.

“You’re trying to boil down a complex product to its essence, but the essence varies from customer to customer”

So through proper discovery we find out that they have, say, a problem capturing leads on their site at their moments of highest intent. In that situation, we pitch Custom Bots, and we explain how simple it is to set up. This is so much clearer and more actionable than bombarding the prospect with every possible feature they might end up using.

Forget about feeling like you have to do justice to every feature, and instead focus on showing how you can solve their problems.

Clarity is contextual

When you’re making a successful pitch, you’re trying to boil down a complex product to its essence, but the essence of any reasonably complex SaaS product varies from customer to customer. It’s crucial at all times to remember that clarity is contextual, entirely dependent on the unique circumstances of your prospect.

Know your audience, and judge the tune accordingly. At the outset, figure out the catchiest tune you can play to get their attention, and then practice until your delivery is perfect.