Learning how to craft an effective sales pitch is one of the most powerful tools a business can hone. When you learn just how to communicate the benefits of your product or service and, more importantly, match them to the specific needs of your customer, you will see a significant impact on your sales.

So aside from analyzing long term sales trends, how can you measure the effectiveness of your sales pitch right away? I learned one way many years ago in one of my very first businesses. 

At that time, my company had a unique product that mimicked the benefits of a fresh-water ecosystem. As I developed my sales pitch, I always emphasized -- and rather enjoyed speaking about -- the nitrogen cycle that our aquarium created with the proprietary components we produced. I truly found it fascinating.

The problem was that while I enjoyed and could speak at length about how the ecosystem worked, customers really didn't care. In fact, I remember people tuning out the mere mention of "nitrifying bacteria."

After attending a number of trade shows, I remember speaking to a middle-aged dad whose child was excitedly examining our ecosystems and aquatic animals. I mentioned to the dad that because it was an ecosystem, the only maintenance necessary was changing the water twice per year. After saying that, he looked up at me with raised eyebrows, stretched face, and said while nodding in approval, "Really. Well, that's interesting." 

It was at that moment, with his graying hair and deep wrinkles, that he looked just like Robert De Niro giving a nod of approval. 

What I realized was that the only thing that really mattered to this dad was not how the ecosystem worked but rather that his life would not be burdened by another pet for his kids.

From that point on, I refined my pitch to always include the convenience of the aquarium, and every time I would use the pitch, without fail, customers would raise their eyebrows and give me their best Robert De Niro nod.

What can entrepreneurs learn from this? Seeking that facial expression of surprise, disbelief and approval is a great way of measuring the effectiveness of your pitch right in the moment. To get to that point, however, you need to consider these simple rules. 

Identify and Articulate the Problem or Need of the Customer

To effectively craft a sales pitch, you need to first truly understand the problem you are solving or the need your are filling for your customer. It is important to remember that your customers may not have the same problem or need as you, so put yourself in their shoes to understand. 

Match Features to the Problem or Need

While most entrepreneurs love to launch into a litany of product or service features, it is far more important to narrow down your pitch to address the specific problem or need you have identified. Also, always describe your features as benefits to the customer, or otherwise how your product or service makes their lives better.

As an example, consider how my ecosystem habitat sales pitch evolved.

Before: "Our unique aquatic habitat acts like a freshwater ecosystem, creating a self-cleaning aquarium with nitrifying bacteria that help keep it in balance."

After: "Having a pet is difficult and a lot of work, right? Well, our unique habitat eliminates all that hard work. This ecosystem only requires a change of water twice per year."

In the end, the most effective way to test your sales pitch may not be to spend valuable time and energy on researching or expensive practices, like A/B testing. Instead, just practice your pitch with a few people and wait and watch for how they react. When you see that all-familiar Robert De Niro nod, you will know you are on the right path.