The art of the sales pitch

Sarah Rogers, Thursday 15 March 2018
6 min read time

A salesman holding a business card showing the word "pitch"The way we do B2B sales is changing. It’s time to re-evaluate your tactics and move with the times otherwise you’ll find your sales team left behind (along with a large deficit of revenue…). A recent study has shown that the top 20% of sales reps close 80% of the sales, leaving the other 80% of their team to argue over the remaining 20%.

So what do these 20% of salespeople do that closes so many deals and gets them so much revenue? Simple - they have made changes based on the hard fact that the sales pitch is dead. A scripted pitch is comfortable for a salesperson and doesn’t require too much hard work if you can deliver it well - or so people think; that’s why its favoured among sales teams. However the evidence is clear - the pitch no longer works. Or at least - it no longer works the way it used to. Nothing sounds more boring to a prospect than the thought of sitting through a scripted pitch that bears no relevance to them. If you apply new tactics and engage your prospects in a different way, then you’ll start to see the results pour in.

How can we pick apart the old style and put it back together so it’s optimised for the business buyers of today?

 

The prospect comes first

The old sales pitch was orientated around the product you’re selling, why it’s great and why you as a company are amazing. This no longer washes with decision makers in business, you need to step away from the idea of “pitching”; put your needs aside and make it all about the prospect. This where research is critical; sales are being lost because 82% of sales people are not aligned with the needs of their buyer.

Every company has different problems and needs, so no two phone calls should be the same - you simply can’t work with a scripted pitch anymore. Do your research. Learn about your prospect’s company, competitors, industry, current threats and successes, global placement and rankings. Know more about their company than even they do!

This way, you’re prospect is constantly engaged during your call, as you’re speaking in a langue they not only understand, but can gain value from. It’s often hard to get through to decision makers, so when you get there, don’t ruin it by talking all about things they don’t care about. 69% of buyers only deem a sales phone call “positive” if their specific needs have been considered; don’t make the mistake of ignoring the easiest step you can take in making a successful sale - gathering information. Throw your old sales script away and replace it with reams of research.

 

Find the X factor

Though a business connection and interest in the product are the goal at hand for a first sales call, the personal connection is just as important. In the research, it can be easy to forget you’re not speaking to the company, you’re speaking with a person. You need to win them over as an individual as well as a business decision maker.

The easiest way of doing this is finding some sort of “X factor”, a topic you both share an opinion on or a passion for, that isn’t directly related to business. This gets the prospect talking in their comfort zone, about something they’re well versed in, and allows them to hear you talk freely as well. This not only boosts your credibility, but also allows the prospect to feel at ease when talking with you, so when the call comes back round to business - they’ll be more than happy to continue an engaged conversation.

But how can you find this gold mine of “X factor” topics? Here are some ideas:

  • It sounds so simple, but it’s true. On a sales call, you should spend 70% of the time listening to the prospect, and only 30% talking yourself. Ask open ended questions and listen to the answers - they’re bound to let something slip that you can latch onto; whether it’s a country they recently visited or a popular culture reference - grab it by the horns!
  • Get on LinkedIn. Again a very simple tactic, and one you can easily imbed in your research before the first call. LinkedIn is not only a great insight into how the prospect views business and what influencers they like, but it’s also a little bit like Facebook. You’re more than likely to come across some interests they have outside of their working environment, and you might also find some common connections you could talk about (every connection you make opens up 400 new contacts on LinkedIn - it’s growing fast!)

 

Solve their problem

Now you’ve made contact, established a personal connection and show them you’re fuelled with knowledge relevant to their industry, it’s time to start solving their problem. Ask your buyer to explain the problem in detail, and make a note of this straight away - keep returning to this when you feel the conversation is dwindling. Then start to explain how you can solve that problem. 61% of buyers want relevant information on their problem when discussing a purchase, so keep the conversation pinned on how you can help, by giving them a direct and effective solution.

A great way of keeping it relevant (alongside using the hard facts and stats you’ll know from your research and the application of your product) is to send them some content. 95% of buyers purchased solutions from salespeople who sent them relevant content throughout the buying process. Have this at the ready to send to them - even whilst you’re still on the phone! This shows them how keen you are to solve their problem and that you’ve done your research, so you know what you’re talking about.

 

Ask about the sale

Shockingly, 85% of sales phone calls don’t even ask about the possibility of a sale! Why? We know you don’t want to come across as pushy, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never get. Once you’ve talked them through how you can solve their problem, ask if it would be of interest to them as a solution. It’s a simple question that leads on naturally, and they ultimately know it’s the aim of your call - they’re expecting you to ask!

By asking this crucial question you’ll start to gain more detail. The prospect will start talking to you about their capacity for the solution, their budget and how urgently they need it - all extremely useful information for your next steps, and you’ve only had to ask one question.

Talk them through what happens next, is there a demonstration or trial they can do? How can they get back in contact with you? Make this part of the call especially clear and memorable. If they are planning to look into the competition, you want to appear the industry leader and the best option - make that stance!

 

Follow it up - every time!

70% of unanswered email chains with prospects stop after the first email attempt. It can be hard to make a follow up email or call sound like anything other than a plea for contact, but they can be crucial in closing some of the most important sales. Sometimes people are just busy, or out of office on emergency, and they physically can’t get back to you - it doesn’t mean they’re ignoring you!

Follow all of the above steps and you won’t seem like a pushy salesperson, you’ll be an engaging problem solver - prospects will be far more likely to get back to you if you continue the passion you exhibited on the phone throughout your follow up system. Remember to keep that relevant content and LinkedIn activity going - add them as a connection straight after the call so you’re fresh in their mind, and bring that X factor back up on the second call.

Much like the old-fashioned “pitch”, the follow up systems need to change. They require the same attention as the call ensuring they’re always different, and remain personalised, piled with relevant research. Don’t lose engaged leads because of a template email, or because you simply “forgot to follow-up”.

 

So now you know how to give your sales pitch the rebirth your prospects deserve, go and put it to the test! Remember - only 3% of buyers trust salespeople at the start of an iteration - so make sure you’re turning that around on every phone call you make and email you send. Do your research, be a friendly face and solve their problem - you can’t go wrong! Closing sales isn’t easy work, but there are ways you can make that work a bit easier.


 Lead Forensics Checklist: How to plan and execute a winning sales conversation

 

Topics: B2B sales, Close Sale

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