The Definitive Guide to Business with Marcus Lemonis

Marcus Lemonis reveals 6 secrets to nailing a sales pitch

When $5 million of business is on the line, your sales pitch can be all that separates you from walking home a millionaire and walking home empty-handed.

How can you master the art and science of wooing a client with your presentation?

On the latest episode of CNBC's "The Profit," business guru Marcus Lemonis asked two furniture design manufacturers to pitch their best design concept for his fast-casual restaurant franchise, The Simple Greek.

With approximately 250 franchises in need of an interior design scheme and millions of dollars up for grabs, Steve Grafton, owner of Grafton Furniture, and Ana Martinez, co-owner of Pacific Hospitality Design, accepted the challenge and took two weeks to prepare a stellar design.

Ultimately, Martinez won the business, and Grafton came up short.

Below are six dos and don'ts for giving a great sales pitch, based on feedback Lemonis and Simple Greek VP Sam Lundy gave the entrepreneurs.

Do bring something fresh and new to the table.

Steve Grafton, owner of Grafton Furniture shows off the booth he created for The Simple Greek. “When you have that kind of bench it gets ripped easy and once it rips you have to get a whole new bench,” said Sam Lundy, vice president of food and hospitality for the fast-casual restaurant franchise.
Source: CNBC
Steve Grafton, owner of Grafton Furniture shows off the booth he created for The Simple Greek. “When you have that kind of bench it gets ripped easy and once it rips you have to get a whole new bench,” said Sam Lundy, vice president of food and hospitality for the fast-casual restaurant franchise.

Grafton's pitch failed because his presentation showcasing blue and white butcher block furniture was too simple and conventional.

"There's nothing unique about this," Lemonis explained. "It feels like a stock item. I know it's not, but it looks like it."

"I've seen this before, Steve, and that's my thing. We want to keep the traditional piece to some degree, but we also want to modernize it," Lundy said.

Do take time to ideate and prepare thoroughly.

Martinez sifted through images of Greece and Greek restaurants before she put her pen to the paper. She developed mood boards and asked herself the question, "When you walk into the space, what's the mood?"

Her approach proved effective — her patterned coated metal table, textured blue and olive green chair and booth incorporating a nanotech moisture barrier were all winners in the eyes of Lemonis and Lundy.

Don't expect the client to do the work for you.

When Grafton's pitch didn't please Lemonis and Lundy, Grafton deflected the blame, saying he wasn't given a clear enough vision or set of specifics.

Lundy's response: "Steve, I'm not a designer. ... If you want me to go out to 20 houses and find what I think I can like, I can do that [but] that's not what I'm here to do."

Do tailor your pitch to the brand and company.

Ana Martinez, co-owner of Pacific Hospitality Design, an L.A.-based family furniture business, showcases her mood boards as part of her pitch to design furniture for The Simple Greek.
Source: CNBC
Ana Martinez, co-owner of Pacific Hospitality Design, an L.A.-based family furniture business, showcases her mood boards as part of her pitch to design furniture for The Simple Greek.

Martinez' pitch was successful in part because she researched the company's existing branding and incorporated it into her presentation. Her blue and green fabric chair was chiseled with a logo of The Simple Greek and her seated booths incorporated elements of greek architecture.

"A lot of the things that you have will meld very well with the elements we've already created from the standpoint of the walls and signage," Lundy explained. "It's not about the furniture as much as it's about what we're trying to create as an overall brand and image."

Don't rely on your past experience to sell your product or service.

Grafton bragged that he had more experience and years in the furniture design industry than Martinez. But that didn't matter because what Martinez presented was ultimately more creative and better aligned with The Simple Greek's vision.

Do focus on how you can add value.

Martinez had one goal in mind: to add value in any way she could do the business. That mentality exhibited through her presentation scored points with Lemonis and Lundy.

Martinez not only won the competition and scored the rights to design The Simple Greek's franchise stores, Lemonis also hired her to be in charge of interior design for all of his businesses — proof that a savvy sales pitch can go a long way.