Sales Pitches Don’t Sell
Sales pitches don’t sell, but authenticity, leadership and service do.
The internet and the world of social selling have changed the face of what “selling” looks like, most likely forever. Selling might well be the second oldest profession in history and a good sales pitch was the path to sales.
But did sales pitches ever really sell? Everyone likes to buy but no one likes to be pitched. Thus the well-known jokes about the plaid coated used car salesmen as the epitome of what not to do!
A sales “Pitch” is often construed as the one liner that draws in your customer and compels him to take action. It’s the cotton candy barker at the circus or the huge banner with balloons flapping in the wind outside the used car lot. In reality, a good sales pitch is everything from the first interaction with a potential customer, all the way to asking for the sale and getting it.
Sales pitches don’t sell in and of themselves. Many a blog post and book have been written outlining the perfect sales pitch. I’ve personally worked with companies that have a word by word sales pitch script, designed to be memorized verbatim and practiced until speaking the script becomes second nature. There is value in this, as so many become tongue-tied in the old fashioned sales pitch moments and completely forget what to do or say next.
Taking The Pitch Out Of Sales
But what if we took away the “sales pitch” mentality and focused instead on what sales really is? What if we believed truly, that our product or service was the absolute best solution to the burning problem keeping our customer awake at night? Would we need a pitch or a script?
Before we go forward let’s back up a bit. There is value in understanding the psychology of buying and the flow of a selling/buying conversation. As stated above, people love to buy but hate to be sold – yet we all respond to a professional who understands our struggles and seeks to provide a good solution. Thus there is a flow that helps salespeople proceed authentically without losing track, feeling anxious or becoming pushy.
That flow could be an outline of steps and questions within which the salesperson develops relationship and understanding of the customer, eventually presenting a valuable and worthwhile solution. Some people actually call this outline a “pitch”, but for purposes of this article, we will call it the “flow”.
The reality of one’s role as a solution provider is one of leadership. You come to the conversation authentically curious about your prospect and the difficulties they have, willing to listen and truly hear. A great leader will offer options while not necessarily being tied to the outcome. It is possible that your solution set might not be what the prospect requires.
Imagine what it would do for that relationship in present and future, if you were to offer a recommendation that did not include your product/service, rather than “going for the sale”. Wouldn’t that be a great example of clearly understanding the issues and providing leadership and service? How would that set you up a valued resource in the mind of prospect? In some cases, not getting the sale can reap huge rewards in the future if handled well.
There is a flow outline that I follow when meeting with a potential prospect for the first time. Interestingly, it was taught to me by a sales trainer friend of mine – someone who teaches selling for living. The most intriguing aspect is that nothing about the outline resembles what one would consider a “sales pitch”.
You might view it and think it more a consultation outline, and isn’t that wonderful?! For in fact the very best sales conversations are indeed consultations wherein the salesperson is listening with full attention as she explore the goals, rewards, obstacles and consequences of inaction being shared by her potential customer.
The flow outline is a reminder to ask meaningful, gently probing questions while literally taking notes and writing down all the answers. It explores in details the challenges, dreams and outcomes your potential customers is hoping for and grappling with. You are a genuine problem solver, sleuthing and creatively suggesting solutions.
When you shift to a mindset of selling as an authentic conversation designed to clarify and solve problems, the notion of a “sales pitch” feels outdated, and clumsy. Instead, authentic leadership and service prevail. Sales develop naturally and with great integrity.
(*Image originally found on http://metaphorivr3.com/using-memory-techniques-to-remember-a-sales-pitch/ with text added for this article)