How many times have you lost a sale the very first time you opened your mouth? An honest person would probably say "all of them". Sales isn't easy, and it's not simply about what you say. Let's talk about the first foray into a sale, often referred to as "the pitch". If you're a guy, think about the first time you called a girl to ask her out on a date. Yikes, talk about painful! Or if you're a gal, think about talking your Dad into letting you drive somewhere and stay overnight. You gotta be convincing.
Very simple - you want to set an appointment, ideally a one-on-one meeting, involving your best available company representative and theirs. On your side you want the highest ranking executive you can get your hands on who can express themselves well at the executive level. On their side you want the person who is making the financial decisions regarding your products or services. We'll talk more about why you wouldn't want someone less "decisive" in a bit.
This is literally what you can deliver that will solve a very specific problem that the decision maker has. It's not so much about "how" but more about "why" they need to do business with you.
The pitch person needs to be 100% aware of what you do and why it works - complete with statistics, examples and ideas for new ways to apply it to solve business problems. You don't roll this stuff out during the pitch, but you have it ready to go if the conversation starts to expand. The pitch person also needs to know exactly what the prospect's company does and what recent market forces might be in play. Again, this stuff comes out on an as-needed basis.
You don't have to be an experienced sales person. Anyone can do this, but it does take preparation, quiet self-confidence and a genuine nature to get the conversation started. Remember, you're not closing the sale today. You're not even selling today. You're here to help and inform. The prospect will do the rest.
Don't talk about the details. A CEO doesn't want to hear about blogging, SEO, social media or marketing automation. Leave that stuff for the appointment, and even then focus on results, not techniques. Don't get stuck in the weeds talking about methodology or process. You will lose their attention and become a waste of their time in a hurry. Focus on outcomes and return on investment.
For me it's something like:
"I've been helping business owners [CEO's, C-Suite executives, etc.] like you increase sales leads and improve customer conversion rates in three to six months. Our clients are typically seeing 200%-300% ROI on the marketing spend in just a few months. Is that something you might be interested in?" [Wait] "I'd like to set up a 30 minute conversation between you and our President this week. Does Wednesday morning work for you?"
You can expect some push-back, even if you have hit a grand slam. Be prepared. For me, I might hear something like "I can't afford to increase my marketing spending right now."
I might respond with something like:
"I understand completely. In fact, most of our clients say that before they get started with our programs. We can show you how we can actually reduce your marketing budget by replacing old approaches that no longer work and making your sales and marketing team more efficient. Would you be interested in hearing more about that?"
Now, what happens when you run into a serious turf war? This often happens because you have reached out to the wrong person. Let's say for example, you've contacted a Marketing Director whose department (and possibly their job!) has been depleted through recent layoffs. How will they respond to your obvious attempt to replace them with your inbound marketing services? Not well. In this case, your best bet may well be to avoid conflict and try to get an appointment with their boss.
Crafting the perfect pitch may take some time and plenty of failures. Success depends on your willingness to listen carefully to feedback from your prospects and adapt your approach to better suit their needs. Try your pitch out on some "friendlies" before you enter the hot zone. Remember that nobody wants to be "sold to", but everybody needs help in one way or another. Your mission is to find those needs and fulfill them.
Photo credit: Search Engine People Blog