A lot of research and effort goes into your sales presentation: your prospect's business, the competitive landscape, and how your offerings can uniquely solve their problem. If it feels like something's missing in your pitch, however, it's time to drill down to those tiny elements that could be the determining factors in whether or not you land your deal.

Ten entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share what elements are critical to include in a sales pitch that effectively communicates your company's key selling points.

1. A sense of humor.

Sales pitches are frequently treated with a degree of suspicion and skepticism, and that is only amplified if they lack any personality. Injecting a bit of humor and personality into your sales pitch adds a degree of lightness that puts people at ease, and makes you come across as less of a soulless sales representative and more of a human being.--Marvin Amberg, Caseable

2. Next steps.

Most sales pitches fail to outline the next steps in the process. More often than not, the buyer will not be making the decision or signing a commitment to purchase during your pitch. Therefore, it is crucial to outline a plan of action after your pitch. Set up the next time for contact before leaving, gain commitment on a decision deadline and don't let the follow-up process be ambiguous.--Dustin Cavanaugh, RenewAge

3. Personalized effort.

Personalized effort goes a long way in sales pitches. I once took a meeting with someone solely because I received a handwritten note from them asking to meet. Taking the time to research my company and me will buy you more than just goodwill; it will repay itself in minutes of time. The amount of effort that goes into a pitch is the exact amount I put in to listen and respond to it.--Kim Kaupe, ZinePak

4. Unabashed honesty.

Sometimes clients think what they need is one thing, but it's not always the best solution. A lot of the time salespeople will bend over backwards trying to get the client what they say they want, even if the salesperson knows better and would likely recommend something else. Be honest and explain your perspective on why something else may be a better fit, even if it means your product isn't it.--Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, AirPR

5. Sincere inquiries.

I tend to find that sales pitches fundamentally go wrong when the salesperson doesn't listen and ask sincere questions before he/she advises (or pitches) at all. Listing features or trying to assume one knows what the customer wants can be off-putting. Ask and listen first.--Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

6. A brainstorming element.

Most sales "pitches" are in fact conversations in which two people are exploring if a product/service is a fit for a specific need. Most of the time, first-time salespeople think so long and hard about what they are going to say, they forget to engage in a real conversation -- focusing instead on going where they want to go, versus letting the conversation lead everyone to its natural conclusion.--Patrick Linton, Bolton Remote

7. Cohesive structure.

A sales pitch needs to be cohesive. It should be direct, easy to follow, and paint a detailed picture of your application, business idea, product or service. Lack of cohesion, which is a consistently absent concept from most pitches, can be a sign of larger problems, and, at worse, a red flag to potential investors or partners that you don't understand what it is you are trying to accomplish.--Blair Thomas, First American Merchant

8. Customized research.

A good pitch should be tailored to the person being pitched, and research should be a part of customizing the pitch to each person. In-depth research can tell you important things, like where a company is currently frustrated with their own work, or which employees are the best to approach with a pitch.--Matt Doyle, Excel Builders

9. An understanding of the user's problem.

We receive a dozen sales calls every week from accountants, software salespeople and other service providers. It's always, "Can I tell you about X company?" I wish more often it would be, "Companies like yours often experience these problems. Would you mind sharing if that's a pain point?" This is much more likely to get me to listen and take you to the next stage of the sales funnel.--Fan Bi, Blank Label

10. Proof that what you're pitching really works.

Proof is the most powerful sales tool you have, yet most people never take time to cultivate proof. Make the promise, then prove it with real facts and data. It is a lot harder to say no to a proven business that has a great plan for growth.--Carter Thomas, Bluecloud Solutions