Making Your Pitch

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Once you have made it past the opening, it’s time to make your pitch. In preparing your pitch, work on coming up with a clear, persuasive explanation of what your product can do for the client.  Be prepared to answer the all-important question that all clients have: What’s in it for me?

This is, after all, the basic question in all financial dealings. If you are trying to persuade people to part with money they have earned, you may well need to work to give them reasons to do so. The central point in any sale is getting the customer to see why what you are offering them is better than any competitor’s offering, and that you will see that their best interests are served. 

When making a pitch it is important to get the balance right between attractiveness and believability. You can promise the earth to a potential customer in order to get them to sign on the bottom line, but if they do not believe you can deliver on what you are offering then it will be completely pointless. 

Also, as most deals have a “cooling off” period, the chances are that if you oversell your product they will be dissatisfied and bring the deal to an end before it has had time to become established.

Features and Benefits

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Sometimes the relationship between a particular feature and its benefit seems obvious. For example, a self-setting clock on a DVR has the obvious benefit that you don’t have to set the clock. But a salesperson might expand on this benefit by saying something like this:

If the power goes out or you have to unplug the DVR, you don’t have to read the manual to figure out how to reset the clock.”

It’s a good idea to describe benefits in explicit terms. This is not because customers do not have the intelligence to work it out for themselves, but rather because they will often be looking at a deal from a point of view of why they might be best served by keeping their money in their wallet. 

In order to convince a customer to part with their money it is essential to deal with any objections and to make them see how the benefits outweigh the cost.

Therefore, a DVD player that you are selling may be a “multi-region” model. Simply saying that it is “multi-region” is telling them something they can work out for themselves by reading the box. The “multi-region” element of the DVD player is a “feature”. 

The “benefit” in this situation is that they can buy DVDs from other countries and play them on the same system. In many cases, DVDs will be cheaper from a different country in a single-region format. Buying a “multi-region” DVD player will save them money, and so is beneficial to them.

It is things like this that make a person purchase a specific item. The question that they may ask on the surface is “what does it do?” but the question you need to answer for them is “what will it do for me?” One item may have various selling points for different possible purchasers. 

It is important to be aware of what tack you should take with each customer. A sales pitch is absolutely not a “one size fits all” matter – for the salesperson or for the customer.

Outlining Your Unique Selling Position

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Some people assume that price is always the deciding factor in purchasing decisions. In fact, these decisions are often based on a variety of factors, such as:

  • Convenience of use: One of the major attractions in buying any item is what kind of difference it makes to day-to-day life. People will spend money on any number of things to simplify their living situation.
  • Convenience of purchasing: It may be that a high-value item is just out of a customer’s reach in one payment. In such a case, being able to offer a payment arrangement will often make the difference between the customer signing on the dotted line and them refusing to purchase. Flexibility in other areas is also beneficial.
  • Special features: Any customer will be keen to get the best they can from a deal, and there are several “informed” customers who will be keen to make a set stipulation before agreeing to a purchase. Offering them a few extras on the item which will increase the benefit to them is a good way of encouraging them to sign.
  • Availability of service: The customer doesn’t just want to know that they have got a good deal; they also want to know that it will stay that way after they have taken the product home with them. Whether it is in terms of a competent helpdesk telephone number or a dedicated technical department, this is something that will convince the less technically-minded.
  • Need for training to use the product: More of an issue in terms of corporate sales, but not specifically limited to that field. The more “ready to go” a product or service is, the more immediate the benefit and the more likely the customer may be to purchase it. However, if training is necessary, this can still be a way in to make a sale, as the training can be bundled in with the purchase of the goods at a considerable discount as a way of convincing the customer.
  • Reliability of the product: An in-store demonstration is as far as you can go to “prove” the reliability of a product. However, guarantees can be given in the shape of a warranty or another; similar agreement which covers the customer should the item not live up to their wishes.
  • Reputation of the seller: The best demonstration of reputation is word of mouth, but most companies will have promotional literature, which can refer to easily checkable statistics or include testimonials from past customers. Knowing that customers tend to go away happy sets many people’s minds at ease.
  • Friendliness of the salesperson: It is a cliché, but nonetheless holds true the vast majority of the time. People are far more likely to make a deal with someone who makes them feel as though they are being taken care of. A salesperson who says “Hello” and introduces themselves, and then gives any information in an unfussy, respectful way is far more likely to get a sale than someone who asks “Can I help?” and gives all the appearance of hoping that the answer will be “no” before launching into a very cursory and jargon-filled sales pitch.

Of course price is important. It will frequently be a deciding factor in a purchase, but bear in mind that most people start out with a set budget in mind when looking to make a purchase. 

Therefore, as long as the item you are aiming to sell falls within that set budget, you should give as much time to other concerns such as those listed above. Your goal is not a simple, straightforward matter of persuading them to buy from you, but also a matter of persuading them not to buy from someone else. 

To make the point clearer, a customer’s objections to buying something are not the opposite of their reasons why they should buy it.

It is therefore not the case that you can just reel off a list of reasons why someone should buy something and imagine that this cures their objections. In reality it is more complicated than that and you need to highlight the positive aspects of the item while dealing with any negatives. 

You should also be ready to “sweeten the deal” with reference to many of the above terms. If there is room to maneuver on payment terms, this may persuade the customer that they are getting a good deal. If you can give them a discount on peripheral equipment to increase the benefits of the item they are interested in, this may also work.

The Burning Question That Every Customer Wants Answered

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Customers are always asking, “What’s in it for me?” This is another reason why it is important for salespeople to focus on benefits rather than features. Sometimes salespeople are so enthusiastic about the features of their products that they forget to explain what the products will do for their customers. Customers might not care about all the wonderful features of your products, but they will care about how your products will solve their problems or make their lives easier.

If we suspend disbelief for a moment, imagine that tomorrow someone invented a machine that woke you, got you out of bed, dressed, and fed you before taking you to work and doing your work for you.

If it then took you home in the evening, made you dinner and did all of this while providing sparkling conversation before tucking you into bed at night, ready to repeat the cycle the following day and kept you fit and healthy into the bargain, it would be worth investing in, without a doubt. But would you buy it if all you knew about it was from a sales pitch which described it as having a “24/7 facilitation setting” and being “usable in a range of locations”?

The technical terms which are listed as specifications in the manufacturer’s literature will certainly be enough to convince people who are technically minded and have been scouring the industry magazines for a period of time looking for the right model, but for many people there is only one question: “What’s In It For Me?” 

That question should be answered in a few sentences at most, setting the customer’s mind at ease and allowing them to put any follow-up questions that they may have. The likelihood is that they aren’t buying it for any of a whole list of reasons, but for one specific one. The fact that they show some basic ignorance of what else the product does means nothing in terms of their being prepared to pay the agreed price, so battering them over the head with “tech talk” is self-defeating.

Case Study

Annie struggled to find her way through the maze of work in front of her. Annie couldn’t think straight and felt off balance because she didn’t know how to approach the elephant in the room – her sales pitch. She tried and she tried with all her might but couldn’t get lift off on her project and needed help. A seasoned veteran on the sales pitch mound, Joe, came to her rescue and went to bat for Annie in front of the clients. Joe hit a home run on his first pitch and Annie grew proud. Joe went to bat again and gave all the sales figures and the crowd cheered. Again, Joe had hit the ball out of the park. Annie grew ready and she went in full swing and landed a knuckle ball and sent it roaring past the crowd of clients and the crowd went wild calling Annie the ace pitcher on the mound.