The Bridge

How to craft a winning pitch: Observations from over 50 sales sessions

by Lisa Perlmutter

At the Advisory Board, we offer a service called "Sales Crashers," where suppliers and service providers can practice their marketing presentation with our research experts for constructive feedback. Based on over 50 Sales Crashers, we’ve compiled three tips to help industry create a more compelling pitch.

1. Keep it short and sweet

We often see marketing decks that are 30+ slides long. In most cases, this is too much content for a 30-minute meeting. In our experience, presentations of this length tend to overemphasize product or service details and understate the larger value proposition. We recommend that you target the top 5-8 teaching points you want to communicate to your customers and shape your presentation around those takeaways.

2. Structure your presentation in the form of a narrative

Think through a key story that your customers can wrap their heads around. One formula that you might consider is:

  • Define the status quo: Set the stage of what customers are doing today
  • Establish the urgency for change: Articulate why the status quo is inadequate and results in problems or errors
  • Define the ideal state: Outline the end goal your customers want to achieve
  • Connect the dots: Show how your products and services will help customers move from the status quo to this ideal state
  • Show the ROI: Demonstrate proof-of-concept, the value of partnering with you—this can be actual dollars, avoidable costs, improvement on reform era metrics (e.g., readmissions, patient experience)
  • Paint the partnership: Whether it’s an implementation timeline or description of wrap-around services, give customers an idea, a tangible picture of what it would mean to work with you.

3. Simplify the visuals

There’s lots of information you want to convey but you need to be judicious. Think strategically about which data sets, case studies, and testimonials will resonate best with which customers. That may mean having a few different marketing decks, doing upfront research on each prospect, and tailoring your approach to show customers what working with you would mean for them specifically.

We’re here to help. Our Sales Transformation Support Initiative houses numerous resources to help you better understand your customers. Contact your Dedicated Advisor to sign-up for a Sales Crashers session with us or email

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