Have you ever had someone ask you to give them your elevator pitch? What did you say? Did you take the bait and try to give the most compelling thirty second summary they had ever heard by using words like cost-effective, state of the art, or premier? Not only are all of these words so overused and meaningless, also keep in mind as a rule of thumb – anyone who asks you for a “pitch” isn’t actually interested in what you’re offering. The second you begin to sound like a sales person, you’re instantly tuned out.
But why would that be? Obviously it’s clear from the start in any interactions between sales people and prospects what the basis of the conversation is and that you are, in fact, a sales person. It’s not that your prospects aren’t expecting you to do your job and sell your offering to them, but the second you start talking about yourself and your company rather than the prospect and their needs, that’s what makes you sound “like a sales person”.
Being a successful sales person is not solely but very largely based on being a good listener. Think about the last time you were on the receiving end of a sales pitch that just shoved a lot of flashy buzz words in your face, assumed that you would be impressed, and then pushed as hard as possible to get you to buy. Did that give you the impression that this was a trustworthy person/organization? Someone you could comfortably build a business relationship with? Or were you more wary, even suspicious, like you were buying a used car?
With the amount of resources available to your prospects, just getting to them first and blowing them away with all the reasons why you’re the best and they shouldn’t even bother looking elsewhere, is no longer effective. By the time they will be open to having a conversation about specific products/solutions, they will have researched extensively and have a concrete set of needs in mind.
Your task now becomes catering your presentation to the prospect’s specific needs to be sure that you highlight all the features of your offering that fit their list of needs. After you begin by learning as much as possible about the goals of your prospect, begin your presentation or “pitch” with all the wonderful ways you’re going to ease their pain. If they have items on their checklist that you don’t offer or can’t help solve, be honest. Many prospects will have a wish list of features they would love to have in the solution they implement, but aren’t necessarily essential, and there may be no company out there that could provide everything.
But if there are problems they’re looking to solve that you simply aren’t a fit for, that’s also fine. Move on. Remember, access to information and to national and global markets goes both ways. Prospects and sellers have unprecedented access to their target markets through digital means.
Keep in mind as well that true success is better defined by the number of returning customers you have, not the number of initial sales you make. Lots of companies can get people to sign on with flashy offers, but you don’t see those companies around for very long unless their relationship with their customers is built on a good fit with mutual benefit. Think of a sales meeting like an interview. This is an opportunity for both parties to learn as much as they can about each other and for both parties to decide whether a continuing business relationship would be beneficial.
Shift your strategy away from old-fashioned, sleazy sales tactics that give all sales professionals a bad name and come toward the light of buyer-focused, helpfulness. ABC is dead. Find your ideal customers. They’re out there.
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