April 13

18 Tips To Deliver The Perfect Virtual Pitch

Do you long for the old days — where all of your major pitch meetings were held face-to-face vs being forced to present your team's pitch deck via a Zoom Call? I don't blame you, since we all know research shows it's easier to make a good first impression via a face-to-face presentation than a virtual pitch presentation. But all may not be lost. Just follow these 18 proven virtual selling skills tips, and you and your team will feel right at home designing and delivering your next virtual pitch deck

The Benefits of Pitching Virtually

The most obvious benefit of pitching virtually is economics. Plane tickets, hotel rooms, travel meals, and all the time your team wastes traveling to/from the prospective client's offices to pitch simply disappear when the pitch is virtual. And I get it, I like my air and hotel miles as much as the next guy, but I'd much prefer to make my pitch in the morning and sleep in my own bed next to my wife that night vs yet another hotel room with an uncomfortable pillow and a noisy neighbor in the next room. 

Virtual pitching also removes geography as a barrier. When I started my first agency, Brandmarken Communications, I was forced to limit my focus to my immediate geography because it was cheaper to pitch locally than to travel to an out-of-town client to pitch them and try and convince them to hire us.

But when I started Converse Digital, I threw that model out of the window because if hurricane Katrina taught me anything it was that a geographically dispersed client base ensures no hurricane will ever put my agency out of business and leave me without any prospects again. Instead, I've been pitching our agency virtually since the firm's inception 12 years ago. And I'm proud to say it has worked, with the preponderance of our clients residing well outside of New Orleans and Louisiana; and if you include keynote speaking clients, well outside the United States and the North American continent.

And finally, given our post-pandemic hybrid work world, if you can pitch, build relationship and win virtual pitches, it's far easier for that prospective client to believe working remotely with you and your team will be a seamless experience. And that friend, might just be the difference between winning and losing your next great pitch. 

Have you read: The Seven MOST IMPORTANT Virtual Selling Skills for Salespeople Today?   

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The 3 Key C­omponents of a Great Virtual Pitch Meeting

Great virtual pitches require very specific virtual selling skills that differ from the physical selling skills you've spent your career honing. Specifically, you need to understand how virtual pitch meeting pre-production differs from a face-to-face meeting; how to manage the meeting dynamics in real-time; and finally, how to design virtual pitch decks specifically crafted to work in a Zoom room vs a board room.  So let's dive into each of these in more detail. 

6 Must do virtual pitch meeting pre-production Tips

  • Designate a Geek-Squad Staffer to serve as the pre-meeting and in-meeting technology problem solver. This person should be fluent in whatever video presentation software you'll be using and in computers (PC and Mac), networking, wifi, etc., in general. It also helps if they're a really good people person since they'll be handling the pre-meeting tech checks and as such, will be a major influence on every prospective clients' first impression of you and your team. 
  • Schedule Pre-Meeting Tech Checks with each potential client participant and every member of your team. Ask them to log in from the computer AND location they intend to use for the actual meeting. This is SUPER important. When we ran a worldwide virtual conference for a pharmaceutical client back in 2014, one of the panels used one computer for the tech check and a different computer on the day of the conference. Yep, you guessed it, they experienced massive tech issues that we had to problem solve less than 30-minutes before they were to go "on stage" during the live stream. 
  • Provide How-To Guides to every participant with very detailed instructions for logging on, rejoining if they get dropped, and most importantly, a Tech Help Hotline number to call if they need help on the day of your virtual pitch meeting. Pro Tip: if you don't have one on staff, hire a Technical Writer to craft your guide to ensure it's written in such detail that even a toddler could follow along and successfully log on to your virtual pitch meeting.  
  • Create a Backup Plan because you never know when weather, an electrical failure, or a street worker breaking an internet line is going to happen. That's why it's imperative to know what your plan is for each and share that with the prospective client during those pre-meeting tech checks. Not only will this ensure a seamless, and far less stressful transition from Plan A to Plan B if anything goes wrong during your virtual pitch meeting, more importantly, it makes one hell of a great impression on that prospective client. What prospective client could possibly come away from their pre-meeting tech check and not be completely impressed with such attention to detail and pre-planning? 
  • Over Rehearse — just as you'd rehearse a regular pitch presentation, you need to rehearse your virtual pitch presentation, including Q&A. Given the technological challenges associated with virtual presenter hand-offs, not talking over each other and especially handling questions posed by the prospective clients, you need to develop a process or at least a sense for each other's body language so these things happen flawlessly during the virtual pitch meeting. 
  • Stage Your Space to create a positive first impression. Do this for each presenter from your team. Pay attention to what is behind each presenter because it matters. I'd suggest you either opt for a very clean, visually non-distracting background or even better, a clean,' well-propped background with meaningful, personal artifacts staged as potential conversational catalysts

7 virtual pitch meeting Management Tips

  • Prepare a clearly identified agenda to ensure excellent organization and smooth handoffs between presenters. 
  • Select a minimally viable group of presenters - not only does this make everyone "bigger" on screen but it also gives each presenter more screen time to make a positive first impression and create an initial connection w/ potential client
  • Designate a Producer who stays off-camera and runs all the background tech, including presenter handoffs, file, or visual aid sharing. Explain their role to the client before, and again on the day of the meeting so that it is clear why they are not "on the meeting" and be sure to "hide" all non-video participants so as not to lose valuable screen real-estate to your producer's avatar.
  • Go to the office but present from different rooms. Your office internet and wifi (or wired connections if you still have those) are far more robust and reliable than your home network. Given the importance of rock-solid tech, this one step can alleviate potential headaches.
  • Require everyone to tech check 30-minutes before the scheduled virtual pitch meeting begins to ensure your technology is rock solid, that everyone has crisp, clear audio and that all video feeds are well lit, with clean or staged backgrounds. This will ensure that your team arrives at the virtual pitch meeting stress-free, relaxed, focused, and ready to pitch.
  • One video feed per attendee - even if you have a great video conference room, virtual video meetings are better when 'everyone is visually equal on the screen. Ask your prospective client to also have each of their participants login separately. 
  • Choose Speaker View and encourage everyone, especially the prospective clients, to set their video viewing settings to Speaker View vs. Gallery View to maximize the size of the video feed when each person presents.

Have you read: How to Overcome Virtual Selling Hurdles With Social Media?   

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5 secrets to virtual pitch Presentation design success

  • Redesign your Pitch Deck for a virtual presentation. Those presentation decks that work great in a boardroom usually fail miserably as virtual presentation decks because there are too many words on slides, not enough slides or animations to hold someone's virtual attention, and numerous other reasons.  
  • Share Less. Far too often virtual presenters start sharing their screen and then never stop until the virtual pitch presentation is over and they ask for questions. Don't make this mistake. If you want to maintain your prospective clients' attention and presence in the virtual presentation pitch, you need to create reasons to stop screen sharing and return to video discussions.
  • Talk less, smile more. With proper respect to Aaron Burr of Hamilton fame, the best virtual pitch is when your prospect does most of the talking because that means they're engaged. It also allows you to move from presenting what you think they're interested in hearing to sharing insights they specifically invite you to provide.
  • But do plan time for small talk. If you have an hour, develop a 45- min virtual pitch deck. That 15-minutes you spend getting to know the client or small talking at the end of the virtual pitch presentation likely will make more of an impact than anything you would have presented in those remaining 15-minutes.
  • Have a conversation instead of delivering a presentation. Every minute you or your team aren't "on-screen" you're losing valuable minutes of connection time. The prospective client can always refer back to your presentation deck later, but they can ONLY experience your people on THIS call — so when in doubt, invest your time in conversation vs. presentation.

Do You Want to Go Deeper & Learn More About Virtual Selling?

If you believe, as we do, that honing your virtual selling skills and virtual presentation skills is the key to a successful future in sales or even business in general, then why not visit our virtual selling skills page where we've gathered all of our best virtual selling skills content and we dive a bit deeper into the art and science of selling virtually. 

Speaking of our best content, if you're a first-time reader, and you want to make sure you always receive our best tips on virtual selling and other key sales & marketing topics, why not consider subscribing to our weekly missives. Of course, you can cancel free of charge at any time 😉.  Till next week. 

This post was originally published on Insight & Information, the weekly sales and marketing blog created by the fine folks at Converse Digital. If you want to learn how to create, engage in, and convert conversations into new clients and customers, give them a call

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