Sales pitches can be hit-or-miss...with way more misses than hits.
If I have to think of examples of great sales pitches, I recall three or four off the top of my head. The most notable is Steve Jobs’ original iPhone keynote—which I’ve seen over 10 times.
But most sales pitches I get every day are really obvious, sort of pushy, and not that convincing.
(Like the adorable but not very effective lemonade stand I passed on my commute home. The kids shouted after me, “I know you’ve got the money!!”)
Sales pitches aren’t just for cold callers—they’re a crucial component of a successful online business. If you want to make real money online, you need to convince people to buy your product. You’ll directly pitch customers:
- on sales pages
- in webinars
- on your blog
- in email campaigns
- on social media
- in person at events!
If pitching is so important, why is it that some people write awesome sales pitches when most others barely get by?
The answer is way less surprising than you’d expect: crafting a good sales pitch is all about doing the prep work.
A great sales pitch is not the product of inspiration and innate talent. Instead, it is the final result of a process of discovering and understanding your target customer’s needs, presenting value, and building trust. A process you can follow to create your own powerful sales pitch.
In this post, I’ll show you a 4-step framework you can use to gather all the information you need to craft a pitch you can use to get more customers for your online business.
You can use your sales pitch everywhere
A common misconception about sales pitches is that they are associated with cold-calling or unsolicited emails.
(If that’s what you’re looking for on this post, I’m sorry to disappoint you.)
That’s not the right way to think about it.
A sales pitch is a tool you can use to present your product as the solution to your prospective customers’ needs in a compelling and succinct way.
What this means is that your sales pitch can be used for way more than just door-to-door sales. Fragments and versions of it can be included in most of your marketing materials.
For example, these are just a few ways to use sales pitches in your online business:
- As a minimum viable product: you can use a sales pitch to reach out to potential customers and assess demand for your product before you invest any time or money in creating it.
- In you launch messaging: your sales pitch will be critical during your launch to convince your audience to be the first to buy a brand new (untested) product.
- In your email sequences: after you’ve launched your course, you can use your sales pitch as a part of your automated nurturing email sequence to turn subscribers into customers.
- In your sales page: visitors of your sales page are typically very interested in what you have to offer, a great sales pitch can be the thing that makes them purchase.
- In your ads: sales pitches are meant to summarize your main message, which makes them ideal for creating ad copy.
In this post, I’ll teach you exactly how to create a sales pitch that you can adapt to any type of marketing communication.
To do that, I’ll go through each step using an example online course that I’ve previously named: “Moving to New York City: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Local in the Big Apple (in ONE Week)”
This course targets “young adults who are moving to the United States—particularly New York City—from another country because of a new job. They are excited but also stressed out about changing their entire lives by moving to a new city.”
Sidenote: to learn more about naming your online course and identifying a target audience, check out this post: How to Give Your Course a Name that Sells.
Step #1: Identify the need
Do you know how you can tell almost immediately if you’re speaking with a true sales professional?
At the beginning of a conversation, they are usually very quiet, ask questions, and let you do most of the talking.
The reason for this is very simple: They want to identify what is it that you need.
Great sales and marketing professionals know that people don’t want to buy a product. They want a solution to their problems: they want to scratch an itch.
One of my favorite examples of this concept in the real world comes from one of iPhone’s most successful ad campaigns:
(Photo from TechCrunch)
In these ads, Apple says nothing about the camera on the iPhone, there are no technical specifications, there isn’t even an image of the phone itself. That’s because they understand that their customers don’t aspire to own a fancy camera, what they really want is to take beautiful pictures—so the ads just show amazing photographs taken with an iPhone camera.
See how starting with a need allows them to craft a more powerful message?
I’ve made the mistake of skipping this step several times (and still do!)
When you create a product, you always want to talk about how great it is and everything it can do. But to create a powerful sales pitch you have to resist that urge and start by forgetting about your product and focusing exclusively on the target customer.
You can do that by answering three questions.
- What is your target customer struggling with?
- What do they want to accomplish?
- What are the biggest obstacles preventing them from reaching their goal?
At first glance, these seem like simple questions. But you should be very thoughtful when answering them and you should take time to actually write down your answers to them.
Here’s how I would go through these questions for my example online course:
- What is your target customer struggling with? They are moving to NYC from outside of the United States, this is an exciting but also major change in their lives—which can feel overwhelming and intimidating.
- What do they want to accomplish? They want the process of moving to be as simple and seamless as possible. They want to land on their feet and be ready to start their new lives in NYC as fast as possible.
- What are the biggest obstacles preventing them from reaching their goal? There is just sooo much to learn and everything is different from what they are used to: How to pick a place that’s safe, fun, and that makes it easy to move around? How does the subway work? How do leases in NYC work? Do I need to find roommates? How do I find the right roommate? How do I get a driver’s license?
It’s important that you avoid framing these answers in the context of your product or business. For example, it would have been a mistake to answer the second question like “They want to find an online course that will teach them…”
The paradox of a great sales pitch is that it must not feel like a sales pitch—and that’s why you must start with the need.
Step #2: Communicate value
Now that you know exactly what your potential customers need, this step is all about presenting your product as solution instead of a group of features.
In marketing and sales, this is called being benefit-driven instead of feature-driven.
Your sales pitch has to allow your target customers to imagine how life will be after their needs have been covered and position your product as vehicle to get to that point.
Charlie Hoehn—an author, entrepreneur, and marketer who has worked with people like Ramit Sethi, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, and Tucker Max—does an awesome job at this with his online course.
Notice how he doesn’t mention anything about how long his course is, whether it includes video or not, or how you can track your progress as you go through it. Instead, he focuses exclusively on the benefit: Land a Job You Love.
The fact that Charlie’s product is an online course is almost irrelevant to the visitors of his page. What they really care about is the value that they will get from the product, whatever it may be.
This is not to say that you will never talk about what your product is (your potential customers still need to know what is it that you offer), it’s just that the value—not the features—should be front and center.
Again, you can do this by answering three questions:
- What does your potential customer want to accomplish?
- How can you solve that problem for them?
- What is the product that will deliver on that promise?
And here’s how that will look like for my example online course:
- What does your potential customer want to accomplish? Become a local in NYC. Getting through the annoying and stressful part of moving as quickly as possible and start enjoying life in one of the most exciting cities in the world.
- How can you solve that problem for them? By cutting to the information clutter and teaching them exactly what they NEED to know to navigate the complexity and make the right decisions.
- What is the product that will deliver on that promise? Fun, short, and easy-to-understand video lectures on each of the most important topics including: transportation, location, regulations, services, and entertainment. And downloadable checklists to perform each of the most important tasks like packing or choosing an apartment.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’ll start to see that your sales pitch is starting to surface from your answers to these questions, but there’s one more thing you need to do before you can write your pitch.
Step #3: Make it relatable
I bet something like this has happened to you before:
You’re at a party or bar or other event in which you don’t know anyone (I’m getting social anxiety just by writing this.) You start talking to some people but it’s not going that great...you don’t really know what to talk about since you don’t really know them.
That’s until you meet someone who:
- Is from the same state/city/country as you.
- Supports the same sports team.
- Likes the same TV show.
- Has similar taste in food.
- Is wearing the exact same t-shirt or sweater.
(All of these have happened to me.)
Suddenly, you find it sooo much easier to have a conversation with this person. You have something in common, so you instantly trust them a bit more than anyone else in the room.
Human beings are social creatures by nature, and we like to find people who are similar to us.
This is exactly what you must aim for with your sales pitch. If you can build trust with your potential customers, they will be significantly more likely to purchase from you.
And that’s where storytelling enters the picture.
Here’s how Erik Kennedy, creator or Learn UI Design, uses a personal story to sell his online course:
In his sales page, Erik tells a story that is related to his target customer’s needs, that shows them that he can relate to what they are going through, and, most importantly, that he understands their problem because he has been in their shoes.
If I were a developer looking to learn UI design, Erik would be on the top of my list of people to learn from after reading this copy.
Telling a story is not that hard, especially because most people build businesses and create products based on their own needs.
In this step, you need to answer these three questions to come up with your own story:
- Why are you qualified to offer a solution to your target customer’s problems?
- What allowed you to create the product that will solve their problem?
- Which anecdote or story reflects your struggle towards solving this problem for yourself?
This is how I would answer these questions for my example course:
- Why are you qualified to offer a solution to your target customer’s problems? Three years ago, I left my hometown in Caracas, Venezuela to study and work in the United States. Since then, I haven’t stayed in the same city for more than 18 months and have lived in major cities across the United States such as Boston, San Francisco, and, most recently, New York City.
- What allowed you to create the product that will solve their problem? I have had to start from scratch three times in three years. Every time I move to a new city, I’ve had to figure out where to live, how to move around, who to live with, how to meet new people. I’ve stayed in hostels and Airbnbs, rented single rooms and entire apartments, moved in with friends and complete strangers, lived in the heart of the city and in the suburbs, packed and unpacked all of my belongings more times than I can count. Most importantly, I think I have made every single possible mistake you can make when moving to a new city.
- Which anecdote or story reflects your struggle towards solving this problem for yourself? When I moved to New York City, it was the first time I was moving completely on my own. Every other time, I had either moved to a place along with friends, or had friends who were already living in the city before I arrived.Even though it was the third time I moved to a new city (and fifth time I moved to a new apartment) in three years, this was the hardest and most stressful one. Before moving, I had only visited NYC a couple of times and had never stayed there for more than 2 weeks at a time. I didn’t know the neighborhoods, the subway, or the laws and regulations. I reached peak stress levels when I had about 40 tabs open on my laptop and more than 20 on my phone—with news articles, emails, apartment listings, Craigslist, Google Maps, a calendar, a to-do list, and a spreadsheet—and I was too afraid to close any of them in case I would lose some valuable piece of information.I failed miserably to find an apartment in the first days of moving to NYC and was ready to accept almost anything that was available to just get it over with. That’s when I decided to approach this in a different way and created a process...two weeks later, I was living in an awesome Brooklyn apartment, with a roommate I liked and trusted, and already had a couple of favorite lunch spots near my office.
Most people who get to this step only answer the first question, and they do it by presenting resume-style credentials like “X years of experience”, “featured in Y magazine”, or “certified in Z.”
This is a good start, but if you want to truly build trust with your audience, you must be more specific and narrow down on a story. As you answer the second and third question, you’ll start to notice how it becomes increasingly easier for the reader to relate to your experience: you position yourself as one of them.
At this point, you have all the ingredients you need to write an amazing sales pitch—you identified a need, communicated value, and crafted a story—, so you’re ready to move on to the last step.
Step #4: Write your pitch
This first time I ever tried to write a sales pitch I just spent hours staring at a blank document and a blinking cursor. Then, after doing some research, I would start writing something...but then I would delete everything almost immediately.
Trying to write a sales pitch from scratch is a very difficult thing to do...unless you have all of the building blocks ready before you even start.
After you’ve completed the first three steps on this guide, all you need to do is put everything together in the right order.
Everyone has their own style of writing, but there is a simple formula I like to use that works for any sales pitch (for more formulas, check out this amazing post from Copy Hackers):
- Write an attention-grabbing headline
- Tell your personal story (problem)
- Present the end of your journey (how you got to the solution)
- Connect your story with the reader’s story
- Present a shortcut to the solution (product)
- Explain the benefits
- Present the offer
- Call to action
- (Optional) Add a bonus and introduce scarcity
Here’s how the sales pitch for my example course might look like (I will use separators to show you where each element of the formula begins and ends.)
[Attention-grabbing headline begins]
Moving to New York City: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Local in the Big Apple (in ONE Week)
[Attention-grabbing headline ends]
[Personal story section begins]
Moving to New York City was hard for me. Three years ago, I left my hometown in Caracas, Venezuela to study and work in the United States. Since then, I haven’t stayed in the same city for more than 18 months and have lived in major cities such as Boston, San Francisco, and, most recently, New York City.
I have had to start from scratch three times in three years:
- Every time I moved to a new city, I’ve had to figure out where to live, how to move around, who to live with, how to meet new people.
- I’ve stayed in hostels and Airbnbs, rented single rooms and entire apartments, moved in with friends and complete strangers, lived in the heart of the city and in the suburbs, packed and unpacked all of my belongings more times than I can count.
- I have made every single possible mistake you can make when moving to a new city.
But NYC was different. Every other time, I had either moved to a place along with friends, or had friends who were already living in the city before I arrived.
Even though it was the third time I moved to a new city (and fifth time I moved to a new apartment), this was the most stressful one.
Before moving, I had only visited NYC a couple of times and had never stayed there for more than 2 weeks at a time. I didn’t know the neighborhoods, the subway, or the regulations.
I reached peak stress levels when I had about 60 tabs open on my laptop browser—with news articles, emails, apartment listings, Craigslist, Google Maps, a calendar, a to-do list, and a spreadsheet—and I was too afraid to close any of them in case I would lose some valuable piece of information.
I failed miserably to find an apartment in the first days of moving to NYC and was ready to accept almost anything that was available to just get it over with.
[Personal story section ends]
[End of the journey section begins]
That’s when I decided to approach the problem in a different way and created a process...two weeks later, I was living in an awesome Brooklyn apartment, with a roommate I liked and trusted, and already had a couple of favorite lunch spots near my office.
[End of the journey section ends]
[Connecting to the user section begins]
I know that moving to NYC is exciting...but also major change in your life—which can feel overwhelming and intimidating.
There is just sooo much to learn, and many things can go wrong:
- How to pick a place that’s safe, fun, and that makes it easy to move around?
- How does the subway work?
- How do leases in NYC work?
- Do you need to find roommates?
- How do you find the right roommate?
[Connecting to the user section ends]
[Presenting a shortcut section begins]
There is a way to make the process of moving as simple and seamless as possible, so you can land on your feet and be ready to start your new life in NYC in just ONE week.
[Presenting a shortcut section ends]
[Benefits section begins]
With method I came up with, you can cut right through the information clutter and learn exactly what you NEED to know to navigate the complexity and make the right decisions.
It’s a simple process to organize all of your information and streamline your move. No stress, no uncertainty, and no guessing.
[Benefits section ends]
[Offer section begins]
This online course teaches you that method with fun, short, and easy-to-understand video lectures on each of the most important topics including: transportation, location, regulations, services, and entertainment.
Plus, I’ve created detailed downloadable checklists to perform each of the most important tasks like packing or choosing an apartment without missing anything important in the process.
Before you know it, you will feel like just another local in one of the most amazing cities in the world.
[Offer section ends]
[Call-to-action section begins]
This course is exactly what I wish I had when I was moving and is the result of everything I learned through trial and (a bunch of) error.
If you are overwhelmed and confused about moving to New York City, you can close all of the tabs on your browser and just enroll in this course right now.
Save your seat on the course!
Maybe I’ll see you around, neighbor :)
[Call-to-action section ends]
[Scarcity section begins]
BONUS: For a limited time, you can get a free 1-on-1 consulting call with me in addition to the course, where I’ll help come up with a strategy for your move and you’ll be able to ask me any questions you may have.
[Scarcity section ends]
Notice how I used my answers to the previous questions to build this sales pitch?
After you have all the components you need, you’ll be able to write this in no time—it took me less than 10 minutes to put this one together.
When you complete these steps, you should save this sales pitch and all your answers. You will be able to come back to this document and adapt your sales pitch to use it on every single marketing material to guarantee that your message is consistent and that it will resonate with your target audience.
Great sales pitches can be hard to come across because most people don’t take the time to do the prep work necessary to write powerful sales copy.
But that’s not you. If you’ve gotten this far on the post, you know the steps and saw exactly how I went from product idea to sales pitch. Now it’s your turn to:
- Identify the need
- Communicate value
- Make it relatable
- Write your pitch
I’m excited to know what you come up with! If you’re up for the challenge, comment below with your pitch—I’ll read every single one :)