5 Ways to Lose a Sales Pitch In the First 5 Minutes

13 min read
Apr 6, 2022

The first 5 minutes of a sales pitch determine whether or not you win or lose it. In fact, some would say that it’s more like the first 30 seconds than the first 5 minutes!

Unless you captivate prospective clients within 5 minutes, the odds that you win are slim. By win, we mean that you conclude the pitch with a closed deal.

What makes those first few minutes so impactful?

Ultimately, first impressions are exceedingly powerful. Unless you enthrall prospects right off the bat, then it’s a long uphill battle.

Not only that, but the first 5 minutes are those in which you:

  1. Prove that you’re an expert;
  2. Set yourself apart from competitors; and
  3. Hone in on the ensuing customer relationship.

That said, we’re sharing 5 ways salespeople lose sales pitches within the first 5 minutes of presenting. Additionally, we’re also sharing what you can do to develop your best sales pitches yet.

Pitches are your best chance to show prospects that you’re the irreplaceable expert who they need. So, don’t lose your best chance!


What Is the Goal of the Sales Pitch?


In short, the goal of a sales pitch is to conclude it with a closed deal. As the final step in the sales process before execution, the goal is to end the pitch with a hard “Yes”, and then get prospects to sign on the dotted line.

Prior to the pitch, you should have already spent the earlier stages of the sales process:

  1. Doing cold outreach to your target audience;
  2. Understanding the customer on a deeper level; and
  3. Laid the foundation for an ensuing customer relationship.

Finally, it’s time to close out the process with a final pitch. This is your golden opportunity to show prospects that you’re the perfect expert who can help take the prospect’s business to the next level!


What is an effective sales pitch?


What Makes a Great Sales Pitch?


To put it simply, what makes a great sales pitch great is that it shows prospects the pathway towards their vision.

More specifically, it shows prospects that you know how to take them towards their ultimate business vision with the help of your product or service!

A business vision is an ultimate experience that prospects are trying to create through their business. Just like how Steve Jobs had a vision of a world empowered through technology, your prospects have their own vision that they’re trying to create through their company.

And believe it or not, while many of your potential customers know what their vision is, they live in a constant state of fog in which they can’t see the pathway towards their vision. So if you can help clear that fog, then it’ll be impossible for them to resist you.

Regardless of what you see on Shark Tank or read about elevator pitches, the best pitches hone in on that business vision and then sell the path towards it! You can use all the tactics and techniques you want, but unless you sell the path, then the rest is worthless.

And if you want to increase the potency of your pitches even more, then be sure to do them in person whenever possible. If it’s impossible to be in person, then always, ALWAYS, present over video. The more the prospect sees your face, the more likely they are to give you a hard “yes” at the end.

To summarize, effective sales pitches show prospects the way towards their vision!


Here Are 5 Ways to Lose a Sales Pitch In the First 5 Minutes


Pitches are a sales team’s single-best opportunity to show what they’re made of. Unfortunately, you might be the absolute best professional to solve the potential customer’s problem, but unless you nail those first few minutes, the rest might not matter.

Rather than letting this fact overwhelm you, see it as an opportunity to win prospects over in less time.

Think about it, if the first 5 minutes are the most important part of an effective sales pitch, then you don’t need to spend hours on end putting together a long proposal that’ll just bore everyone. Instead, you can focus on enthralling prospects in those first 5 minutes and then riding the wave.

That said, if you want to make a successful sales pitch, then avoid making these 5 major mistakes!


1. Confusing the Potential Customer


To begin with, the absolute last thing you want to do is confuse potential clients. By confuse them, we mean overwhelm them with:

  1. Options; and
  2. Product or service features.

Let’s say that you need to purchase a new computer, so you go to the electronics store to pick one out. When a sales rep approaches you, they show you tons of options and start to overwhelm you with different product features, such as hardware, storage capacity, and processors. All of a sudden, you start to feel confused and overwhelmed! All you wanted was a newer, faster computer, but now you find yourself confused about all the different options and features to consider. Ultimately, you can’t decide because you’re flat-out confused.

Instead of overwhelming prospects with options and features that only make it more difficult for them to make a decision, make their life easier!


Sell a Single Pathway


Remember, perfect sales pitches are all about selling a single pathway towards a better future.

Unfortunately, many sales reps walk into sales pitches armed with options. Instead of selling a single, simple pathway towards a better future, they put options on the table. While it initially sounds nice to offer different pathway options, doing so only ends up confusing the potential customers.

Believe it or not, prospects want you to tell them what they need. During pitches, they don’t want to do the thinking. Instead, they want an expert (AKA you), to tell them what they need to get to a better place.

Imagine that you go to see your orthopedic surgeon to discuss your upcoming back surgery. How would you feel if your surgeon all of a sudden started proposing different surgical techniques that you know nothing about? Wouldn’t it confuse you, because at the end of the day, you’re not the expert–the surgeon is!

Again, it might sound nice to offer different options, your prospects genuinely want you (the expert) to tell them what they need. Therefore, make their lives simple by laying out a single pathway towards success.


Tech Specs Don’t Matter


Here’s the thing: Your prospects couldn’t care less about the tech specs of your product or service. Rather, they care about:

  1. Whether or not you’ll solve their problem; and
  2. Whether or not your product/service is the best option.

Moreover, prospects care about whether or not you can help solve their problem to get to a better place! They couldn’t care less about how you do it, they just want you to do it.

Therefore, instead of boring prospects to death about the tech specs of your product or service and inevitably confusing them, focus on the outcomes that you’ll create.

Bottom line: Product/service features = boring and confusing.


2. Making the Pitch All About Yourself


Perhaps the simplest way to lose a prospect’s attention is to kick off the pitch by talking about you and your problems.

News flash: Prospects don’t care about you and your problems! While it sounds harsh, the hard truth is that they’re there to find solutions to their own problems. Yes, they’re happy to have you there to help, but ultimately they’re there to better themselves.

Instead of making the pitch all about you, make the pitch about how your deliverable will help prospects overcome their pain point to manifest their ultimate business vision.

Moreover, never frame your product/service as the prospect’s ultimate goal or need. Instead, frame your product/service as a means to their ultimate desired outcome!


Pitches Are About the Customer’s Needs


Let’s say that you walk into the Apple store looking for a new phone. You don’t know which phone fits your particular needs, but you do know that you need a phone with the best camera quality and storage capacities. However, instead of considering your problems, the sales rep talks about themselves and all their needs. Ultimately, you leave without making a purchase.

While it sounds totally absurd, this is exactly what many sales pros do during pitches: They focus on themselves rather than the prospect.

Again, while it sounds harsh, prospects are there to hear about themselves! Good sales pitches are customer-centric, not sales rep-centric.


best sales pitch examples


3. Having Bad Energy


Have you ever sat in on a sales pitch and been totally captivated by the sales rep giving the presentation? Was there something about them that was so intriguing that it became nearly impossible for you to stop listening to them?

If so, you were probably enthralled by the salesperson’s positive energy.

At the end of the day, you can say all the right things, but if your energy is negative, then all those words go to waste.

Deny it all you want, but your energy is palpable and has the ability to change the way people feel! That said, you want to make sure that you’re radiating positive energy that uplifts prospects.

With the right energy, you’ll become that captivating person who prospects can’t take their eyes off of.


It’s About How You Make Prospects Feel


Remember, you can say all the right things, but people are more likely to remember the way you make them feel instead of what you say. The way you make people feel is dependent on the energy you bring to the table.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “How can I have more positive energy?”.

To put it simply, energy is a product of your emotions, and emotions are a product of your thoughts.

For example, if you’re thinking mostly positive thoughts, then you’ll feel positive emotions and subsequently radiate positive energy.

On the other hand, if you think bad thoughts, you’ll feel negative emotions and inevitably radiate negative energy.

That said, the way to make prospects feel good about themselves starts with you thinking positive thoughts!


Confidence and Fear Cannot Coexist


The highest form of positive energy is confidence. Therefore, if you want to enthrall prospects with positive energy, then you need to feel confident in yourself, your team members, and your deliverable.

On the flip side, the highest form of negative energy is fear. If you think fearful thoughts, then it's game over.

Additionally, confidence and fear do not coexist: The most confident people are the ones who use fear to their advantage instead of their downfall!

Radiating the highest form of positive energy starts with you getting fear under control in order to let confidence come through. Until you manage fear, confidence cannot shine through.


What About Your Body Language?


Perhaps the easiest way to read somebody’s energy is by examining their body language. For example, consider:

  • Their facial expressions;
  • How stiff their body is; and
  • Their tone of voice

If you want to allow your positive energy to come through to the fullest, then use body language to show that you’re the most confident person in the room!

You can stand up and say “I’m confident!”, but if your body language doesn’t match your words, then prospects won’t believe it.


Don’t Be Afraid to Go Off Script


In addition to having the right body language, one of the best ways to show that you’re extremely confident and radiate positive energy is by going off-script.

Yes, you should put together a pitch script, but if you read that script off like a robot, then you’ll appear anything but confident.

That said, don’t be afraid to let loose a little bit and go off script!

If going off script a little makes you afraid that you’ll lose track of what you’re supposed to be saying, know that it’s better to go a little off track than it is to sound like a robot.


4. Focusing on Logic Over Emotions


Whether you want to admit it or not, we all make purchasing decisions based on our emotions rather than our logic. Therefore, your sales pitches should appeal to a prospect’s emotions instead of their logic.

Now, focusing on emotions over logic doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t lay the facts down on the table. Rather, it means that you lay the facts and key points on the table, but then seal the deal with emotions!

Unfortunately, many sales reps feel as if they’re tricking or manipulating prospects by appealing to emotions over logic.

Sound familiar?

Here’s the thing: Prospects will use emotions to make a purchasing decision whether you like it or not. Unless you use their emotions to guide them towards making a purchase that’ll help them, they’ll use their emotions to walk away from making a purchasing decision.

Furthermore, prospects are always emotional, therefore use their emotions in a way that guides them towards a purchasing decision that’ll help them manifest their vision.

If you want any hope of closing the deal at the end of the pitch, you need to hype up your prospects' emotions. From the very start of the pitch, you must captivate their emotional brains!


Sell the Pathway Not the Pain Point


As we mentioned above, your job during pitches is to sell the pathway toward a better future. More specifically, a future in which the prospect’s ultimate vision is manifested.

There isn’t anything better to hype up a prospect’s positive emotions than showing them the way towards their vision.

From the very start of the pitch, hone in on the prospect’s vision and how you’re going to show them the path to it.


Use Sales Storytelling


In addition to selling the pathway as a technique to hype up emotions, take advantage of sales storytelling!

Sales storytelling is a sales technique in which you frame the customer’s buyer’s journey and their journey to manifest their vision as an epic story.

Instead of seeing the decision-makers as individual buyers, see them as personas from a movie who are on a hero’s journey to overcome their villains (AKA their pain point) and achieve greatness (AKA their vision)! Most importantly, interject your deliverable into the story as the secret sauce that helps the heroes achieve that greatness!

What makes storytelling such an effective technique?

Unlike facts, stories are memorable and highly emotional. Additionally, each of your potential clients is on their own hero’s journey.

If you can use sales storytelling to validate that hero’s journey, then you’ll be virtually undeniable.


Interject Real-Life Evidence


What if there was a sales technique that appealed to emotions while still laying the facts down on the table?

Turns out, that’s what case studies and testimonials are for.

Case studies and testimonials have the emotional appeal of FOMO and the logical appeal of, “This stuff really does work!

If you ever feel like you need a sales pitch idea to spice things up a bit, then short and sweet case studies and testimonials are almost always effective.


Intrigue Prospects With Your Opening Line


Your single-best opportunity to hype up a prospect’s emotions is with your opening line.

Just like how you can win over a potential customer with the opening line of a cold call or in the subject line of a cold email, the opening line of your pitch is a total hit or miss opportunity!

While there are countless different approaches you can take with your opening line, the goal is to ignite a flame of curiosity. Depending on your deliverable and how you’re using storytelling, there are an endless amount of ways to intrigue the prospect’s curiosity.

Not only is your opening line perhaps the best opportunity to get emotions brewing, but it’s all your best opportunity to go wild with creativity.


sales pitch ideas


5. Thinking Too Small


Is there anything better than having an awesome idea, telling it to a friend, and then having the friend validate your idea and reciprocate the hype? Probably not.

On the other hand, is there anything worse than having an awesome idea, telling it to a friend, and then having them say, “That’ll never work”, or “You’re thinking too big”? Probably not.

Just as you despise small-minded people who invalidate your ideas, so do your prospects. So the absolute LAST thing you want to do is be that small-minded person. In fact, you need to be the exact opposite of small-minded.

During the final pitch, you need to think BIG while motivating prospects to think even bigger! Without big thinking, you will certainly lose the deal altogether.


Think Bigger Than Your Prospects


Remember, every business is created in order to manifest a vision. While you have a vision for your own business, so do your prospects for their businesses!

That said, when crafting your sales pitch, take a step back and ask yourself, “How can I make my prospect’s vision even bigger? How can I take the information they’ve given me and make it even more important?

Moreover, you need to think bigger than prospects about their own vision.

Then, present your big ideas to prospects during the pitch. By doing so, they’ll think to themselves, “This person really understands us, and we need them if we want to take things to the next level!


Make the Prospect Feel Important


When you back up the prospect’s vision and motivate them to think even bigger, it makes them feel important and validated. And, who doesn’t want to feel appreciated in that way?

Unlike other sales teams who will simply pitch their product or service, you and your sales team should focus on making the prospect feel like the hero who they are for working so hard to manifest their vision.

As we mentioned above, every prospect is on their own hero’s journey. What could be better for them than having somebody validate that journey and how important it is for them to go on it?


Final Thoughts on How Sales Reps Lose Sales Pitches


Sales pitches are either won or lost within the first 5 minutes of presenting. You might think you have the best sales presentation ever (and you actually might), but unless you nail those first few minutes, then you’re going to have a very steep uphill climb from there.

Don’t let your best opportunity to win over prospects go to waste. Seal the deal with a winning sales pitch to show prospects that you’re truly somebody who they can’t afford to lose.


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