For any company looking to turn a profit, gaining clients and attracting new business are two prime goals. Though the presentation of today's modern sales pitch has changed a bit over time, its function has remained.
The sales pitch no longer has the primary focus of informing the client on how your product works.
How it's changed is that you, as a sales person, are less the technical expert you used to be because people can inform themselves so much better online, says Erin Scheel, community manager at College Pro. People can go and find consumer forms, they can go to websites, they can check blogs, they can Google as much information as is available.
Yet for these pitches to successfully sell your product, there are certain elements that every great sales pitch should never go without.
1. Listen up!
The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent. This famous quote spoken by Alfred Brendel sums up one of the most important elements of a sales pitch.
It sounds harsh but it's the idea of 'shut up and listen,' says Scheel. Ultimately it's not about what you're saying; it's about what you're hearing. If you're the only one talking, you've missed the boat in a sales call.
Sales professionals must first understand the potential client and their needs before launching into a presentation about how much they need this product.
Greg Kopchuk, CEO of ActionCOACH Canada, suggests turning the sales pitch into a natural conversation. The seller should only be talking a third of the time, he says. The goal is for them to come to the realization that they need your product as opposed to you telling them.
2. Ask for the sale
It sounds very obvious. So how could any sales person trying to sell a product or service not say some form of the so, have we got a deal? question following their pitch? Kopchuk says he's encountered the problem with many people he works with.
There's a lot of sales people that feel because they have a great conversation with someone and that it's going well, they think, ÔÇÿOh, this person likes me. They will ask to do business with me!' he says. And that never happens.
Scheel agrees. It's rare that somebody is involved in a sales meeting or sales call where the person doesn't know that you want them to buy from you. A lot of people don't actually ask the question, which leaves the door open to all kinds of objections.
3. Build a rapport
Trust goes a long way when building a relationship with a potential client. Would you pay somebody that you didn't trust?
Chris de Corneille, advertising and marketing professor at Seneca, Durham, and Centennial colleges says he believes trust has to be provided through action, not through talk.
I could come in and sit down with you and say the words: ÔÇÿI'll save you money! I'll save you money!' I could say it ten times but If I don't give you the reasons why and prove it, he says. If I don't make it personal to you for whatever need you might have ... for you to then sign on the dotted line and do business with me.
You don't necessarily know if somebody wants you to just chat about the weather and their week for 20 minutes, says Scheel. But there has to be something that bridges you into a conversation that warms people up to you.
4. Ask questions your prospect wouldn't think of
The goal of this step isn't to catch the client by surprise but to help them remember you by asking questions they don't normally get.
De Corneille says salespeople should also ask questions that the prospects themselves wouldn't think to ask. Though they didn't consider the question themselves, the answer could still be very important to them.
For Scheel, asking questions is essential to ensuring you're not making assumptions in the pitch.
In general, most people don't just buy for the sake of buying, they buy because it improves their life, or it saves them time, or it's a cause they care to support, she says. You have to ask to understand.
5. Pitch to the right person
Don't spend your time pitching to every other person in the company.
Make sure you're talking to the decision-maker, says Kopchuk who has seen many people attempt a sales pitch only to find out that the person they're talking to needs to ask someone in charge. Whoever that person is, that's probably the person you've got to be talking to.
6. Don't waste their time
In all senses of it. Be punctual and stay on topic.
Give people clear expectations of how much of their time you want, says Scheel. By telling them you're only going to need five minutes of their time when these meetings usually take closer to 30, it's not only disrespectful but also tends to piss people off.
Raising hypothetical objections is also something you should try to avoid, according to Kopchuk.
Suppose [the business owner's] got a great team and he has no problems hiring people, he says. You don't start talking about issues of how to hire people and create a great team because that's not an issue for him. The only things you want to talk about are concerns and issues of the business as it relates to them.
Similarly, Kopchuk says to stay away from starting conversations about a client's trophies or plaques you may see in their office during your meeting.
Talk to them about their company and listen, he says. That way you're demonstrating how much you care about partnering without going off on a tangent and wasting the time of both of you.
If you keep these tips in mind the next time you meet with a prospective client, you'll be sure to not only make an impression, but maybe even seal the deal!
Photo: Monkey Business Images/THINKSTOCK