In my Stage 2 book “Sales Ramp Up: How to Kick Start Performance and Adapt to Chaos”, I talk about Practicing Your Pitch. I had read Dan Pink’s book “To Sell is Human” and he basically resurrected the concept of ‘The Pitch’ when thinking through your sales approach. I tell the story of two young women coming to our door one day to sell, of all things, magazine subscriptions. The proceeds would help put them through school. The short story that I relay is they were so engaging that we bought their ‘pitch’. Like so many others, I absolutely hate being sold to and when I opened our front door and saw those two young women standing there, my first reaction was to say as politely as possible, ‘no thanks’ to whatever it is they were selling. But, as the old joke goes, they had me at ‘hello’ and because they quickly established rapport with both myself and my husband, we bought.

The reality is we all should practice our ‘pitch’. Pink puts a new spin on the idea by identifying the One-Word Pitch (what is yours); the Question Pitch (how good are you at this?); the Rhyming Pitch (this one is fun, try it!); the Subject Line Pitch (get people to open your emails); the Twitter Pitch (you guessed it, 140 characters – try it, you’ll like it!); and the Pixar Pitch (Disney bought it and you do too).

Here are mine:

The One-Word Pitch: Complexity!

The Question Pitch: Are you running your company or is it running you?

The Rhyming Pitch: To know is to grow.

The Subject Line Pitch: When being visionary isn’t valuable.

The Twitter Pitch: Confidence or caution? Which one is running your company today?’

The Pixar Pitch: This one isn’t a favorite of mine however, it was fun writing it. The point is the impact stories have in terms of what we remember. Check out my book to read mine if interested. The exercise is valuable. Makes you think about your own story.

The point is we all must remember that we aren’t pushing a product or a service. We are changing minds. We are solving problems. We are offering solutions.

Here are some challenges I hear regarding sales and ideas on how to handle.

Challenge: You are concerned that your persistence (calling, leaving voice mails, sending emails that don’t get answered) comes off as nagging:

Opportunity: If calling, leave each call with a question that continues the conversation: What’s the best time to call you back and get you live? Or What’s the best way to talk to you about how to create better alignment among your management team? Plan to reach out five times over the next 30 days – and if there is no bite, give it three to six months before trying again. I make it a goal to never give up on a prospect until they give me a definitive NO. I’m not obnoxious when I connect. I literally just try to provide them more information on the 7 Stages of Growth, hoping that something I eventually touch on or say will get their attention.

Challenge: You don’t seize the moment.

Opportunity: If a prospect seems interested, jump at it aggressively. If you believe your product (the X-Ray or the Profit Zone) is the best option out there to help a business owner create traction, you have the responsibility to bring that to your customer, every time! Create a dialogue, as I mention in my video on Marketing Tips for the Growth Curve, and help the business owner see your ability to help them create that alignment, engagement and implementation! You can help business owners succeed. And our products are the best on the market for getting to the root cause of a problem.

Challenge: Your overconfidence is off putting.

Opportunity: Are you talking to your prospects instead of engaging them in a conversation? If so, you may inadvertently be seen as overconfident or a bit ‘full of yourself’. If you struggle with sales, admit it. Your prospects would rather deal with someone that has good information, asks good questions and provides great ideas than someone who is a good salesperson. You want to look a bit vulnerable and confident at the same time. Because I’ve run a company, I can totally bring up things that I messed up when I was the COO of that company. I can relate to many of their issues. And because I know the product so well, I can sound confident in what the results will be for the team that engages in an X-Ray or a Profit Zone.

Pain vs Benefit – Surprising Study

Here’s an interesting study that took me by surprise. In a trial conducted for the sales and marketing consultancy Corporate Visions, researchers monitored two subtly different types of pitches from a bank. The pitch to one group of potential customers began like this: “You need to know that 40 percent of companies that take a bank loan still fail.” The pitch to the other group began by focusing on the benefits of the credit line. Think it’s always better to start with benefits? Think again.

Sales to the first group – the one that heard that 40 percent stat before anything else – were 10 percent higher than sales to the other group. That I didn’t see coming!

The reason, according to Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, is that humans feel the pain of loss twice as much as they’re pleased by gain. Loss aversion plays a major role in the decisions we make, particularly anything that involves a change from the status quo; this makes it a powerful lever for sales.

Here’s how you can use this. Whether it’s on a voice mail or in an email headline, or a phone call, you have to quickly introduce an insight that your prospects weren’t aware of – one that makes them consider the way they currently do business. Here are few ideas that I’ve suggested in some of my marketing videos – these are opening ideas, not the full sales pitch:

Reality is that most CEOs struggle to get buy-in from their management team.
Reality is that most CEOs don’t have a formula for sustainable growth.
There is a formula to create buy-in based on your current stage of growth.
Not getting your product to market is the #1 challenge for a small business.
Reality is that hiring quality people is the top challenge for companies your size.

We have 27 business challenges that research shows all small businesses with fewer than 500 employees struggle with. Think your prospects have these covered?

Sales is a challenge for most of us. You have to find something that works for you and then practice it! You need to sound confident about your product and be able to engage a prospect in a dialogue that gives them hope. You can help them solve 27 issues they are currently facing. You can help them identify the top five they need to worry about today. If that isn’t a strong differentiator I don’t know what is!

Happy Sales!

Remember, I’m here if you have any questions about any aspect of the 7 Stages of Growth.

Your success. My passion.
Laurie Taylor, FlashPoint!