Maybe it’s the depiction of salespeople in the media, but the term sales pitch can sound negative. It seems disingenuous, insincere, salesy. Something straight out of the world of fast-talking hucksters in plaid suits. True, sales spiel would be worse, sales patter sounds childish, and sales talk just isn’t catchy. However, for lack of a better word, there is no denying a sales pitch’s importance in engaging a customer and making a strong impression. In fact, sellers who invest a little time can counter the negative stereotype and craft effective sales pitches that benefit their customer’s needs. Here are some tips for tailoring a sales pitch to win customers and build trust:
Perhaps the number one thing sales pros can do to overcome negative stereotypes is to simply be honest. Think less about making a sale, which is your own personal need, and more about how you can satisfy someone’s else’s needs. In this, consider what you can offer. For those sellers who truly believe in their products, it shouldn’t be hard to tell the truth. Keep it simple and direct. State your name and what you do. Also, avoid gimmicks and attempts at humor. Nothing says Disingenuous Salesperson like an overeager or funny seller. Save the jokes, winks, and playful elbow punches until you establish a relationship. On second thought, no winks. Ever.
These days, with the internet and social media, customers are savvier than they were. Therefore, sellers must be better prepared. Do your research. Know your audience. Use the tools at your disposal, such as business directories, LinkedIn, and other social sites, to learn as much as you can about a prospect and anticipate their needs. All buyers want solutions. Your job is to discover what drives the need. It’s not enough to give a hungry person a burger. If you don’t know their dietary restrictions or health issues, you may not be doing them a favor. Learn about your customer’s business and industry, and show them you not only understand, but you have ways to help.
Along with preparation, good sellers anticipate possible objections. You know they’re coming—they always do—so you want to get out ahead. This way, you’re not caught off guard or get sidetracked from your goal. Typically, these fall under four categories:
- Budget: Often, a client’s budget expectations are not aligned with reality. Acknowledge what they share and recognize its validity; however, you should establish the value of your solution and tie it directly to your prospects’ challenges.
- Authority: Identify decision makers in advance. Make notes, reach out, and involve them as soon as you can.
- Need: First, make sure your solutions address both the client’s current and future needs. Next, inquire about the solutions they are presently using or have used and compare yours. Needs have a way of manifesting when something works better.
- Time: It is never the right time. In this case, illustrate the costs of waiting, and be empathetic. You understand their concerns, but is it ever the right time to talk about insurance or estate planning? The ideal time to find a solution is before you have a problem.
Discussion Over Lecture
Think back to school and the classes you most enjoyed. Many preferred the discussions with teachers who interacted with students. In fact, studies show that students retain more when they actively engage in learning over straight lectures. This often had nothing to do with subject matter. Great teachers turned boring subjects into interesting classes. It’s no different in sales. Don’t monopolize conversations. Ask targeted, specific, open-ended questions and actively listen to gauge body language and vocal inflections that can reveal hidden wants. Express understanding and empathy. A good sales pitch is a conversation to uncover individual and personal needs and offer tailored solutions that help people.
Prepare a Road Map
A final step is to provide a road map to illustrate what comes next and delegate authority. Often, complex deals require multiple meetings. What else is required? Are there deliverables needed before you can move forward? Identify who will handle shipping and who will deal with receiving. Coordinate the setup of a demo account. Ending your sales pitch with a call to action not only puts the pieces in place to move the process. It also shows clients you have a plan and the vision to see a deal through.
It can be difficult to overcome negative impressions. The image of silver-tongued, selfish, disingenuous salespeople has a long history, and this certainly influences how many of us hear the words sales pitch. Short of coming up with a new expression, there isn’t much we can do about the word choice. However, sellers can always do more with their actions to truly take a customer’s needs to heart. Beyond merely pitching or selling ideas, do something that genuinely benefits them and makes their professional lives better. No matter what you call it, that is what the best sales professionals do.