There’s this popular story among sales people about a young sales rep who walked into a client office and in order to make small talk, pointed to a picture on the wall and exclaimed, “wow, how did you get a picture with this popular man” to which the client responded, “that’s my wife”. Often told as a funny anecdote while training sales people, there is an important lesson to be learnt here.
For all the good you do, it takes one mistake to lose your client
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Making the perfect sales pitch is both an art and a science. It is a combination of responding to the customer’s needs, pitching the product, conveying company values strongly, all the while incorporating one’s own unique style of selling. Since sales reps have to balance multiple factors while talking to a client, they can convince the other party totally by saying ‘No’ to these common mistakes.
Nothing Worse Than a Boring Pitch Let’s face it, half-hearted conversation goes nowhere. Any client you approach has a million things on his/her plate, and if your sales pitch makes him/her lose an ounce of interest, it’s fair to say that you won’t get to meet the client next time.
Even if your product is literally the most boring thing on earth, find a way to make it interesting. Talk about its features through more relatable everyday examples and avoid going into tedious explanations. By using examples from real-time, explain the ways your product can help solve problems and generate better results. Further, ask your clients about their specific needs. This can help you in controlling the direction of the conversation.
Using Words Like “Innovative” Innovative isn’t an inherently bad word. It’s a word that means greatness and creativity but sales reps have used it to the point where clients roll their eyes every time they hear it during a pitch. When you call your product “innovative”, it conjures the image of a person talking on the phone with a sales manual in front of them, reading pointers. The whole “our product is innovative” schtick has been long dead. This also goes for the words like revolutionary, game-changing and mind-blowing. Basically, any and all hyperboles!
Instead of such words, employ simpler vocabulary. Address the client by their name and use the term ‘you’. It helps clients feel as if they are the centre of attention, during the pitch. Use emotive words like happy, safe, smart, more attractive and so on, as our purchase decisions are driven by emotions and not logic. After all, this is what the tale of two chickens indicate.
Bad Mouthing the Competition While bringing up the competition during a sales pitch isn’t unethical, it’s certainly a practice that one should be very careful about. That’s because every point that you make about your competition can be cross-checked by your client, and any wrong information provided from your end will lead to disastrous results. Bad-mouthing a competition isn’t as beneficial as one might think because customers are looking for reasons why they should buy from you and not from someone else.
Instead of taking down the competition, put your product on a pedestal by talking about all the good things that it offers. Influence your clients by using testimonials from existing customers and by talking about the solutions that your product provides. For example, Steve Jobs, before launching Apple’s 1998 iMac, spoke about the negatives of a regular PC before the launch. He built this idea of a product that was a way to reach the future in a way that the competitors weren’t even thinking.
Being Nothing but a Blabbermouth An important aspect of sales is to know when to speak and when to listen. Unfortunately, not every sales rep is aware of this cardinal rule. Too many times, a sales rep will keep talking without hearing what the client has to say. Think about it, if a salesperson called you and kept talking continuously, wouldn’t you cut the call out of sheer frustration? When you let your customers provide their input, you can go about the pitch according to their needs and address their challenges convincingly. Many sales reps believe that selling is about talking well. On the contrary, it’s about conversing well.
Instead of talking too much, listen to your clients and respond to their specific needs. Ask them about what kind of solutions they are looking for and answer them accordingly. Paraphrase their thoughts to show you care and draw them in with active listening and point-by-point responses.
Not Doing Regular Follow-Ups You met the client, you pitched the product and left the meeting with the confidence of deal closure. Then, you didn’t contact him/her for a month.
A crucial part of sales is to perform regular follow-ups. Just because your meeting went great doesn’t mean that the customer will remember you if you call him/her after a long gap. Closing a deal needs multiple follow-ups. However, one has to be very careful about being too repetitive with follow-ups and inadvertently becoming annoying. Ask your clients about their preferred method of communication for follow-ups and the best time to do so. Another follow-up trick is to define the next step while communicating. Keep the communication flow smooth by always setting up the next meeting/call. Sales CRM tools like Salesforce, TailorPad and Microsoft Intune are quite helpful, as these can be used to schedule emails and follow-ups with clients, making the follow-up process easy.
Lacking Manners Yup, you read that right. As arbitrary as it might seem, a surprisingly large number of sales reps lack basic manners when they go for sales meetings. From the way you’re dressed to basic salutations, simple things form a big part of the pitch. Even if your product is literally one in a gazillion, it’s very off-putting for a client if the person giving the pitch lacks basic etiquettes.
Present a professional image as it helps in creating a positive impression of company's products and services. Even if your client is rude or overly demanding, be patient and respond with poise. If you
respond in an aggressive manner, it’s the impression that the prospect will form in his/her head and will talk about the company to others in a negative light.
Dress, behave and greet properly, that’s a must for any sales meeting.
Follow these tips to avoid falling into a rut with your customer. And, as the popular phrase goes, “Go get ‘em, Tiger.”