“Sales pitch” is a strange term. It suggests a sales person gets themselves ready and then throws a collection of statements at a prospect. The prospect then either accepts or rejects the pitch.
But, we all know selling high dollar items isn’t like that. It’s about careful, patient interaction. It’s about building a relationship, uncovering needs, and eventually – when the time is right – solving needs.Why then, do I promote training sales people on an overview pitch for all your key products and services? For two reasons – to shorten the time between new product training and execution, and to build confidence.
Prepare them to sell
Too often I see companies provide the sale team with a list of technical features and product benefits and stop there. They think every sales person in the room is trained and ready to go. To assume a sales person can absorb all the information provided and turn that into a persuasive dialog is unrealistic. The overview pitch gives them a place to start.
Every release of a new product or service requires an overview pitch. You don’t want the reps to recite the pitch. What you hope for is for them to take ideas from the pitch, incorporate a technical term or two, adjust phrasing as they see fit, and weave it all together into the natural flow of the conversation. In short, they need to make it their own. The overview pitch provides a valuable jumping off point to help them create their own persuasive presentation much more quickly.
The confidence to sell
The overview pitch is about confidence. We all know that confidence plays a role with the buyer. Buyers of a high dollar item will only purchase your product if they have confidence that your solution will result in a return on the investment, alleviate their fears, doesn’t threaten their job security, and will lead to future success for their business.
But, confidence plays another, equally important, role and that’s with your sales team. It’s crucial your sales reps have confidence to be able to successfully propose your new product to the buyer. Sales reps must be confident in their ability to deliver the pitch, answer the buyer’s questions, meet the buyer’s needs, offer something of value, and close the order against competition. They want to do all of this as easily as possible.
This is especially true when you are asking them to sell new products. To get a sales person to break out of their comfort zone you must build their confidence in pitching the new product or they may be passively aggressive in finding ways to simply avoid promoting it at all.
The single most important way I have found to prepare a sales person to sell your product is to train them on a well-crafted overview pitch.
Preparing for the sales pitch
There is a great deal of sales/buyer interaction that takes place before the sales person gets to the point of actually offering the pitch. Successful sales people spend most of their time with a potential customer uncovering needs, establishing credibility, and identifying the competitive landscape. Once this is covered, and you’re ready to present a recommended solution – it’s time to give the pitch.
There should be two versions of your pitch. The one the rep will use depends on the situation and the amount of time he or she has. The first is the elevator pitch, a quick 30 second delivery for those brief opportunities with potential customers. The second is a more detailed presentation for appointments and times where there is more time to pitch the prospect.
The elevator pitch is important, because it provides a simple and memorable outline. When it comes time to have a long discussion with the potential customer, you can use the elevator pitch as a guide, adding detail where needed. A perfect example of when you might find it necessary to use an elevator pitch is on a tradeshow floor. You have a high-quality prospect in your booth, your time with them is limited, your competitors are lurking waiting to pounce, and you must give the prospect a compelling reason to stay longer in your booth and add you to their short list of vendor candidates.
Keys to your sales pitch
Whether it’s the long or short version, an effective sales pitch for high dollar items contains four key elements. Value proposition, credibility statements, delivery on the promise of the value proposition, and objection prevention:
Value Proposition – A short sentence that describes for whom the offering is intended and the primary benefit or value.
“The easiest to use and productive ______ available for the _________ industry.”
Or, “Our product helps __________ people solve ____________ by providing _________.”
Credibility – A short sentence as to why the potential customer should listen to the sales person and why the potential customer should consider the company and products offered.
“We are the world’s largest provider of ____________ and have solved ________ for customers just like you for the last 20 years.”
“We are number one in customer satisfaction through independent market research.”
“We spent ______ engineering hours developing and then field testing this new _______, so you can be confident it is robust and efficient.”
The detailed version should Include a list of short statements the sales person can drop into the conversation that provide credibility for the sales person, the company, or the offering.
Delivery on the Promise of the Value Proposition – A one to three sentence description of how the value proposition is delivered. Focus on benefits, not features.
“Using our ___________ technology we are able to produce 3x faster than any other system, yet we have simultaneously reduced the steps in doing this to make it easier to use. That is how we are the easiest to use and most productive ________ available.”
For the longer presentation version, provide a list of the top features and the benefit and value each delivers. This section provides the validation that you can deliver on the value proposition. Use relevant sales tools such as collateral, case studies, images, videos, and specifications. This should be an extensive list that includes every benefit and value that proves your points. The sales person then picks and chooses which ones to use based on the situation.
Objection Prevention – A statement that counters the most common objections the potential customer might have before it comes up.
“Some people might think that the increased productivity and ease of use means the price is not competitive, but with 2,000 systems shipped and 20 engineers we have the unit volume and technology to remain very competitively priced.”
In the presentation version, detail the top few objections you expect to be mentioned and craft a thoughtful and persuasive response. Once into this detailed pitch, the sales person is trained not to bring up objections, but they will be able to handle the common ones if introduced by the potential customer.
Using the sales pitch
The overview pitch for a new product is an outline. The sales reps should not memorize it. Instead they should remember the themes and the concepts of the overview pitch. You might ask them to memorize a phrase, such as, “We spent 3 years and 10,000 engineering hours developing the_____.” But even then, they should be free to modify phrasing in actual use as they see fit.
All successful sales people have their own ways of speaking and interacting with the buyer. Two sales people can have completely different, equally effective, styles. Respect this fact, and explain that they are free to modify it to their own style.
A well-crafted overview pitch and supporting sales tools gives your sales person confidence, the key to success in sales.
Please send comments or questions, I’d be glad to answer.