Pitching Services: How to Leave Them Wanting More

Yesterday I had a call with Josh, one of my closest business friends.

Josh was working on his sales pitch for his startup Brandish Insights, and he wanted honest feedback.

I gave it to him. Uncensored. 

“This sounds cool, but I am having a hard time seeing why anyone would buy it.”

I continued.

“The examples are cold and impersonal. I think the deck is both generic, and too whimsy at the same time. I don’t think you proved your value to me, ‘why should I care about your solution?’” 

I concluded…

“Your pitch gave me the impression that your service was overpriced and poorly defined.”

Too harsh?

Nope, Josh was loving it (as much as one can love being told their baby is ugly).

This kind of brutal feedback is exactly what is secretly going on in your prospective client’s head if your pitch missed the mark.

Except, most clients won’t tell you. You just don’t get the sale.

They’ll tell you, “We decided to go with someone else.”

Then in despair, you’ll blame the victim. Talking about how prospective clients “just don’t get it”.

Is your prospective client the problem… or your pitch?

Let’s go back to Josh.

Now, I’ve known Josh for about 8 years, so we trust each other to give brutally honest feedback to each other – and we do often.

After I gave Josh my feedback, here is what he said:

“That’s what I knew I’d get from you, Jeff. You wouldn’t sugar-coat everything. You’d tell me exactly what you were seeing.”

So, what was Josh’s problem?

Why did his pitch miss the mark?

One of the biggest problems entrepreneurs have is conveying the value of their service to prospective clients.

We are so deep in the woods of our product or service that we forget about framing our solution using our client’s secret code words – words they understand.

The Three Why Technique

To help Josh refine his pitch, I used the Three Why Technique.

You basically ask why THREE times, in order to get at the root of why something is actually important to a prospective client.

For example, if you sell SEO to small-businesses, here’s how you would use the Three Why Technique.

  1. Why should I care about SEO? Because it drives free traffic to your website.
  2. Why should I care about free traffic to my website? Because you can get more leads.
  3. Why should I care about more leads? Because more leads means more potential sales and revenue for your business.

Got it? Clients understand leads, sales, revenue – not SEO. Talk in their language. 

So, I kept on asking Josh why I should care. Why does anyone need his service? I asked why three times.

And then we got to the gold.

After asking “why?” three times, Josh got to the value of his platform and methodology. AND IT’S A WHOPPER! It is so compelling, that I would love to become one of his new customers.

Here’s the golden nugget:

One of Josh’s beta customers had him measure the impact of six core brand metrics in 16 different metro areas. Measurements are taken quarterly and compared to each other.

While going through a comparison of quarterly results, Josh noticed an increase in awareness in three of 16 metro areas.

When presenting the findings to the client, he said “look at how much stronger you are performing here. Can you tell me if you ran media in this market during the quarter?

The client said “why yes, we did. Not only that, but we noticed that sales have gone up. That’s so cool! We have never been able to correlate this before. We’ve always wanted to, but it’s never been cost effective.”

The same goes for another brand metric in two different markets. Josh’s methodology predicted the client results with amazing accuracy. Something they had never done before.

And the cool thing is? His methodology costs a fraction of his leading competitor. Previously, you had to pay $100k+ to get this level of brand measurement. Josh’s company can do it for less than $5,000 per quarter.

Mind. Blown.

I went from apologizing to Josh for my harsh criticism of his pitch, to asking how I could invest in the future or become a beta customer.

That’s the power of stories. The power of speaking in your client’s secret code. The power of the pitch.

Summarizing the gold in Josh’s product and pitch:

Disclaimer: I’m not an expert in the branding space, so I might butcher a few of the metrics he mentioned. 

  • Brandish Insights measures the previously unmeasurable when it comes to your brand
  • They deliver the results to you at a fraction of the price of the big-boy firms, and can keep prices reasonable due to a modern methodology
  • Companies of all sizes can finally understand the effect their brand has on sales. No more getting beat up by a skeptical CFO. Now you have the evidence you need.
  • The price is so low that your CFO won’t even notice the expense. You can get started right away!

For years, companies have failed to measure brand efforts, because getting the right data was like buying a dump-truck of bananas from an 800lb Gorilla.

Now, with Josh’s methodology, everyone can get the benefits of working with a Nielsen, at a fraction of the price.

That’s value!

Tell a story about that transformation. Solve for pain.

In going through this 60+ minute, one-on-one exercise with Josh, we revealed a common problem that entrepreneurs face when selling their intellectual capital.

We are so close to the features of our business, that we don’t know how to articulate the benefits to third parties. We think people care about how much work we put in or how pretty things look.

When in reality, a prospective client just wants to hear how it will impact them. 

Turns out that I didn’t care about Josh’s methodology all that much. That’s his job to figure out.

I just care about the results.