Great News! The Era of the Sales Pitch is over!
Buyers and sellers alike are breathing a sigh of relief as the era of the sales pitch comes to a end. Evidence of the decline can be seen in the growing preference for conversations over presentations as sales people seek to truly engage with potential customers.
Don’t Pitch Unless Your Customer is Ready!
The sales pitch has been diminishing in effectiveness as a sales technique for a long time.
As a result the sales person can no longer assume that the prospect will be hypnotized by a combination of smooth charm and carefully rehearsed benefits and features messages.
The problem is that while the salesperson is pitching, the prospect ain’t batting.
The reality is that most buyers are not interested in the salesperson’s product, or company. They are only interested in themselves and their own company, specifically the opportunities and challenges being faced. Clever salespeople realise this and have traded in their old sales pitch for a new more effective and engaging approach (as shown in the table below).
Prequalified company (with a need and a budget)
Expert, or Trusted Advisor
Company with latent or hidden needs, as well as those with a budget
Features & benefits
Points of pain
Discussion, Dialogue, or
Business impact & results
Problems, Opportunities, Strategies, etc.
Middle & Lower Management
When need &
May not be aware of need
Tell and Sell
Sell to close
Engage / collaborate
Insights & Conversations
Serve to sell
Never Start with A Sales Pitch, Even if the Buyer Wants One!
Now, buyers like salespeople have been conditioned to the old ways for a long time. That means they need a little help changing. For example, the prospect may walk into the room expecting a powerpoint slide show, or a verbal diatribe, that does not mean you should comply. Let’s take an example – what do you do when the prospect asks you to start the meeting by telling us about your company?
Well some books recommend that you reply with something like the following ‘I would love to and there are lots of interesting things to tell, but in order for me to understand what areas I should focus on, I would like to learn a little about your company first.’
Now, the principle makes sense, but you also have to be careful not to kick to touch too early. The prospect does have a genuine reason for asking, and by starting off with a little introduction you give him, or her a little more comfort, as well as a chance to focus on what the meeting is about.
This is important because you cannot assume that the prospect has done any preparation in advance of the meeting, or perhaps even though about it since you arranged the appointment on the phone several days, or weeks ago.
The Sales Pitch That is Not A Sales Pitch
So we recommend having a 3 or 4 sentence overview of your company that will grab attention and set a direction for the conversation. For example something like this:
‘’We have helped other companies in your industry, acme 1 and acme 2 for example, cut the cost of complying with regulatory compliance by up to 35% by providing new technology to make reporting simpler…
…In the process we have noticed some interesting trends with respect to the processes and technologies being deployed and in particular where additional savings can be gained…
..I am delighted to have the opportunity to discuss this with you for 45 minutes….
…– I would be delighted to explain a little about ourselves at the end if you like and leave you with some material…
… I don’t know if there is anything that you would like to focus on in particular? Is 45 minutes ok?… ’’
Now, isn’t that a lot better than a long winded about us, or product pitch. It indicates to the buyer than you are have some useful information to share, that you are not just there to sell to him and that you are no ordinary salesperson.
By mentioning the names of other companies you add to the credibility of your message, you have also confirmed the topic and the time available, which is again manages expectations and demonstrates that you respect his, or her time.
In short this approach is more more effective than the traditional sales pitch.