What makes for the perfect pitch? There are countless articles out there sharing shortcuts and formulas for fast-tracking your way to sales success, but in reality the secret is that there is no secret. The most seasoned salespeople will tell you that the only way to perfect your pitch and close more sales is through practice.

It sounds simple enough, but not all pitch practice is created equal. It’s about more than the content of your pitch—great first impressions come from relentless practice, fine-tuned delivery, and the kind of confidence that only comes from a commitment to preparation. Everyone practices their pitch, but only the best put in the time to continually perfect their pitch to exceed expectations for every interaction.

All reps want to make a great first impression and close more sales. But when it comes to pitch practice, where should you focus your time and energy? Let’s dive into the most impactful pay-offs of practicing your pitch and the key strategies to deliver your best sales performance.

Replace Nervous Habits with Confidence

No matter how experienced you are, nerves have a way of creeping back in new and unfamiliar situations. The only kryptonite for a case of the nerves is preparedness. First impressions matter, and it’s important to do all you can to replace your nervous habits with confidence. All sales reps should take the time to work through the habits that keep them from nailing their first impressions. It might sound time-consuming, but it’s nothing a little strategic sales training can’t fix.

Here are three ways to practice a more confident pitch:

Video practice

Consider every new customer an opportunity to improve your pitch. Your sales training platform is there for a reason, so take advantage of the opportunity to record and review your performance in the privacy of your own home or office. Video practice is your chance to experiment with new approaches and tailor your pitch to a new customer.

Record your pitch and evaluate it with the customer in mind. Do you seem comfortable and confident? Are you smiling? Does your tone match the message of your pitch? Record, review, and repeat to perfection.

Video coaching

Many salespeople stop at video practice—don’t be most salespeople. Video coaching takes your performance to the next level by soliciting outside feedback from coaches and peers who can provide valuable perspective. Use video practice to work through changes and get comfortable with your pitch. Video coaching is for fine-tuning and perfecting your pitch and catching blind spots that help you bring it home.

Invite your sales coach or trusted colleagues to watch your pitch and provide feedback on its content, your body language, and your delivery. A few pointers from a seasoned vet can make all the difference when you’re in front of a new customer.

Role playing

You’ve tailored your pitch for your new sales prospect, you’ve captured valuable feedback from your coach—now it’s time to tackle objections. Many sales reps think that as long as they know the product inside and out, fielding objections will be a breeze. But in the moment, it’s less about your product knowledge and more about your communication skills. Customers want a confident, personable answer to their concerns, not a list of product features.

Take advantage of your video platform to role play common customer objections. How do you get a prospective client past their budgetary concerns? What about someone who’s not ready to pull the plug on their contract with a competitor? Practice navigating these conversations with a balance of knowledge and active listening so that when you’re really in the hot seat, you’ll know just what to say.

No Two Pitches Will Ever Be the Same

How flexible is your pitch? The most effective sales pitch is one that’s always changing. Your sales pitch should always be built around the customer and allow plenty of room for two-way conversation. It sounds easy, but it takes dedication and continued practice to feel confident enough to deliver your pitch and establish a great first impression at the same time. Confident salespeople know how to listen and field any interaction with great communication and solid knowledge.

Here are two best practices of a seasoned salesperson:

Form a Bond and Establish Trust Quickly

Before your pitch, do your due diligence and know as much about your prospective customer as you do about your product. Buyer-centered selling means that the customer is just as important as the product. Before the conversation, do some research to get to know the customer, their business, and what’s most important to them. It’s more than memorizing a few fast facts—tailor your pitch to engage them and get them excited about what you have to say.

For example, what’s your customer talking about online? What professional projects are they most proud of? Maybe you both share a passion for employee development or community service. You can gather powerful insights about what resonates with them by looking at their track record and understanding what motivates their decision-making.

Let the Buyer Drive the Conversation

Too nervous to speak off-the-cuff? The real magic happens when you ditch the script and put the prospect in the driver’s seat. Sure, you’ll have your pitch ready to go when the time is right, but lead with questions instead.

Many customers are used to sales reps who drill them with generic questions that are often not relevant and hard to answer. Customers know when you’re not really listening and just waiting to deliver a scripted answer. Instead, opt for open-ended questions that uncover what really matters to your prospect. Make space for them to share their biggest challenge or a goal that excites them, and trust that you have the product knowledge and communication skills to deliver a solution that authentically solves their business needs.

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