Don’t Pitch

Every business needs customers, and along with acquiring those customers inevitably comes the need to make a sales pitch. Think for a minute: how many sales pitches have you seen over the years (and yes, ads are pitches too) and of those, how many were really memorable? I’m willing to guess not many.

I want to focus on the personal kind of pitches today – generally those in some sort of business-to-business context. Maybe what I have to say applies to ads as well but they’re generally shorter. This is one of the things with which clients seem to need a good deal of help for a number of reasons and I’d like to lay out some of the guiding principles we discuss.

First, don’t pitch. While some of us who have been in sales enjoy watching someone sell, most people don’t seem to find “being sold” very appealing. The nature of marketing has changed. Prospects want to have a conversation, so take it easy on the superlatives as you’re describing your product or service.  If you make a claim (we reduced costs and increased profits for our clients), back it up with specifics.  Prospects are skeptics and verifiable hard data goes a long way to changing that.

Before you get to that product or service description, however, you need to explain the problem you’re solving for them. In order to do that you need to demonstrate that you’ve taken the time to research their business and to understand the challenges they face. I realize that’s difficult as an outsider, but it turns out this internet thing makes research really easy if you’re willing to spend the time and to ask the right questions.

Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, assume that your prospects can read.  If you’re going through a deck with them, remember that it isn’t a bedtime story and that they’re not children.  Do not read the thing verbatim off the wall or page and expect that you’re going to hold their interest.  They can read faster than you can speak and their minds are elsewhere while you are on bullet point #6.

The plan is this: research the target, solve their problem, and tell them a story in a conversational tone.  I’ve found that method to be pretty effective.  You?

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Filed under Consulting, Helpful Hints

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