Since winter 2014, I have been working with Finnish companies to craft effective sales pitches that they can use in international sales situations. These have been used in pitching competitions, for one-on-one sales meetings and at international trade fairs and exhibitions. The workshops can be used to develop sales arguments for new products or to develop texts for marketing materials, company websites etc. In November 2020, I was approached about something slightly different, five companies and five pitches in only two hours. This is how I did it…
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The International Business from Finland theme music was devised and created by Dodobones www.dodobones.co.uk
A Unified Pitch
The first Sales Pitch Workshop I co-hosted was an eye-opener. It was with a company that was going to present to potential investors at Slush in 2014. The Managing Director and the Sales Manager were both very capable of talking about their company and products, but they were now doing it in their second language. We started by asking them each to pitch to us and worked to develop those scripts. The idea was to take the key points they needed to communicate and make sure they gave a consistent message, regardless of who was pitching.
Each time we worked on the script, we would video them delivering the pitch, so they could see how they performed. To say they felt uncomfortable is an understatement, but they could see what each did well and what they wanted to improve. By the end of the day, after three recordings, they were satisfied with their presentations and I said “Just think, if we hadn’t done this workshop, you would be going to Slush with the pitch you delivered this morning.” The look on the face of the MD, as the colour drained from it, said everything!
Practice Makes Perfect
That was the format of my Sales Pitch workshops for a few years. Working one-on-one with companies to really hone their presentation. One company, run by two young Finnish guys, really took on board what they had learned before going to a trade show in the UK: They practised their presentation before the event, so they were ready on day one when the show opened. They even adjusted the script every evening, based on their experiences that day, until they had perfected it. This is what they said afterwards:
“Practising our English sales pitch gave us more confidence at the show. We will do this in future when speaking Finnish at shows in Finland – every company should do this!”Timo Hoisko, Owner/Designer, Ko-Ho Industrial Design
In the COVID era of 2020-21, I have continued to deliver sales pitch workshops online. It requires a little adjustment but the principle of the workshop remains the same and, as people become more-and-more used to online meetings, it has continued to be effective.
The first time I was approached to do a group sales pitch workshop I was, I must admit, a little intimidated. I was working with group of companies in the tourism industry who ere hosting visitors from overseas. How could I possibly do eight sales pitches, with all eight companies in the same room? Added to this, I was also asked to create an introduction to their area with input from all the companies together.
I decided to use a spreadsheet before the event to collect info from each company. That allowed me to prepare each pitch before, rather than starting with eight empty pages. It worked really well and, because these companies knew each other, it was a really collaborative day. They worked together to find the best way to describe their area, then they helped each other on their pitches. i then recorded each of their pitches, so they had a reference from a native-English speaker to help them practice.
Five Pitches in Two Hours
This workshop started by my customer telling me ‘…we are planning to organize Pitch Training session… How many companies would be ideal for a two-hour session? ‘ I answered that two pitches in two hours should be OK, but she said that she wanted four! The event will finish with a competition for each participant to deliver their pitch. And the whole two hours will be live-streamed.
“OK then,” I replied “In that case, it will have to be an Elevator Pitch workshop!” Somehow, knowing it would be four short pitches made this project seem more manageable. I used a similar tactic to the earlier tourism project. This time, I asked each company to answer five questions about the company, its products/services, its uniqueness, target markets and type of customer/partner they are looking for. Then I drafted the pitches, so we could workshop them during the live event.
It turned out there were five participants, not four, so they had 24 minutes each, not 30. To make thing even more interesting, some of the participants were in the studio with us, while others were joining online from various locations around Finland. They each had my first draft of the pitch to prepare and I started by asking them to read it aloud. We edited the text as we went along so I could email them the updated version at the end of their 24 minutes. They then went away to practice some more, while I continued the workshop.
Practising To Develop Greater Confidence
The first two participants were both really nervous before the event, but they blossomed during the workshop. You can see from the video of the event, they came back for the competition more relaxed with added confidence and a more detailed presentation. It’s amazing what you can achieve in just 24 minutes.
In the COVID era of online meetings, while many people are working in front of their computer screen, it may be even more important than ever before to communicate your company’s message clearly, while physically disconnected from your customers.
If you think your company could benefit from sharpening its sales presentation technique, ahead of an important event or meeting? Use the button below to reach out.
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