I have been selling, running sales teams and coaching people who hate sales for more than 25 years.
Here are the biggest mistakes that I see people make and more importantly what to do about it.
Sales pitch mistake 1: You think selling is telling
When I talk to people about sales, they have the idea that selling is telling. Telling others what you do, telling clients why you are good at what you do, telling them why to buy from you. The truth is that great selling is a process of helping people make a great buying decision. It actually doesn’t start with telling at all. If you are to help people you have to start with listening. Listening helps you understand your client, who they are, what their problem is and what they would be interested in buying (or not) and finally the information they need to make a decision.
Sales pitch mistake 2: Making it about you
Have you ever been the recipient of a sales pitch where all they do is talk about themselves? Telling you about their company history, who they have worked with and why you should buy from them. This is the exact opposite of what you should do. Great sales are about building relationships and trust over time. The real aim of selling is to assist your client on their buying journey. The more you make it about them and helping them – the better you will get at selling and the more potential and existing clients will want to work with you.
Selling is about helping them with the right steps and information to make a good buying decision for them – whether that is yes or no.
When you are talking to your client, they want to know these things:
- Have you listened and do you understand who they are and their problem or aspiration?
- Can you show me how you can help them with this?
- Are you credible and trustworthy?
So your sales pitch should:
- Give them a recap of their business and problem to show them that you have listened and understood.
- Give them examples of how you have helped people just like them – what the process and outcome was.
- Show at all times the steps, the information you have to help them and why you are qualified to be the one they choose to help them
Sales pitch mistake 3: Forgetting to explain the process
When we work in our business every day. We forget that others don’t know how we operate and what we really do.
The most important thing you can do when you first meet someone (after you have listened) is to explain your customer roadmap. This is 5 or 6 steps that show them how clients come to work with you. Your roadmap briefly explains what you are going to do and when you are going to ask for information and for the sale. It is a great tool to use to introduce your sales process, explain each step and then get their permission to walk with them on this journey.
When you get this right, you will see your client relax allowing them to share more with you and allowing you to lead the conversations through this process – through to them making a decision.
Sales pitch mistake 4: Not asking for the next step
We often think that if we present a great case, then all we need to do is wait for people to ask us for the business. Actually, selling and pitching is like dancing. You have asked them to dance and now it is up to you to lead the dance. When you stop leading, your dance partner (your potential client) gets confused. The truth is that they expect you to ask, they are often waiting for you to ask.
If you have your roadmap (see mistake 3) then this makes this so much easier. Then it is your job to ask permission to go forward on each step of this process, until you get the Money Question. Once you have had yeses for each of the previous question, the last hurdle is smaller and less daunting. As with dancing – you get better with practice and get to do fancier steps.
Sales pitch mistake 5: Not following up
The fortune IS in the follow up – it’s true.
I am going to do one step further. It is your job, not the clients, to follow up. The simple truth is that people hate following up because you haven’t organised the next step with their potential client. You feel like you are intruding, you worry that they won’t want to hear from you.
Here is my remedy: Each time you meet or call your client, simply organise the next contact time and date. I know from experience that this makes a profound change in people’s businesses and in their attitude to following up. You have an agreement with your client; you have permission to call. So, when you go to call them you feel differently, you feel more confident because you have an arranged time. This confidence comes through in your voice, your words and therefore effects your outcomes.
Frances Pratt has worked in the sales industry for over 25 years. Frances created Metisan to bridge the gap and to demystify the sales process so that sales people can improve their performance. Frances has also successfully run KISS to Sell Sales Program which has helped countless of businesses. She has completed a Graduate Certificate in Change Management and an MBA from Melbourne Business School.