In a room full of pitchers, inevitably someone is going to strikeout. And it’s also just as rare for someone to hit a home run. But that doesn’t mean that a base hit can’t get you to the next meeting, and sometimes that’s all that matters. So, how do we become more effective with our pitch presentations? The answer is simple, we tell our story focusing on the customers FIRST and lastly, on ourselves. This way we find that common ground in which we are lacking when we walk into a room cold.
Breaking the ice in a room full of a prospective customers’ top leadership members is often like feeling you’re naked in the middle a party but breaking with the security blanket of comfort and identifying the customer’s key needs are essential to finding the next meeting. But what’s the biggest security blanket that sales have? None other than their pitch deck. It’s not about what’s in the slides, it’s about the story that’s told. At SugarCRM, we know that story isn’t about us—it’s about our customers.
If the story begins with you as the vendor, it’s going to fail. Frankly, customers don’t really care about your company unless your partnership makes them look good. Companies are looking to you to solve a problem for them and while parts of your story may solve this problem, you’re not providing a direct answer.
Consider the following scenario:
Prospect: We really are having a problem internally. Our marketing can’t get leads to the sales team through the CRM directly, so they have to manually enter them. And sales is sending a spreadsheet back to marketing and we are losing out on key conversations and that’s costing us money. We need to solve this, but we aren’t sure how.
Sales Rep: Sure, we offer a complete CX system and we are dedicated to solving your problem.
Prospect: Great, how?
Sales Rep: With our complete CX system of course. We are based on the twelve principles of the universe.
Prospect: Wait, what? How are you going to solve my problem here?
Sales Rep: What was your question again?
The sales representative is on ‘script’, but they aren’t answering the potential customer’s question. While this is an exaggeration of the situation, conversations can feel like this for potential customers—yes, they know they have to sit through some sort of “pitch” but in the end, they want to know what you can do for them. Customers are looking to mitigate risk and your sales pitch may or may not enter into this equation. Having more meaningful meetings with potential clients means doing more about them and less about your company.
Here are three surefire ways that you can help to convert a prospect and create a customer for life.
Ditch the Pitch Deck
First off, everyone in the room with you can read, so if you’re reaching from the pitch deck, you’ve already glazed over the eyes and brains in half of the room. Take a step back and refrain from looking at your slides and reading from them. Even if it’s a new deck with new transitions, take the key points, learn where the transitions are, and make the story yours—not what’s on the presentation screen.
Don’t stumble over yourself and your um’s and ah’s, you’re having a conversation with the customer and it shouldn’t feel like you’ve forgotten your lines. The pitch deck is your backup, but you and your company are on the mainstage. Prospects won’t remember the slides, but they will remember how you made them feel and the story you told and that’s where you need to focus. Guide the story along about the customer, you can hit highlights in your deck but don’t make it the central focus. The pitch deck does have a place, but it’s not meant to take the center stage in your customer interactions and if used, should be earlier in conversations with the customer.
Be in the Know
Just as customers remember how you make them feel, they also remember what you knew about their company and their needs from previous conversations. Meaning that when you’re talking to them and start quoting statistics about a different company, they look at you like you’ve lost your mind (because you’ve certainly lost that deal). Yes, you have a lot on prospects and customers to keep track of, but that doesn’t mean you can mess up company information and more so, companies should feel like they are your only customer even though realistically everyone knows that they are not.
This is where your CRM comes in though, using one can mean the difference between being prepared and not. Often accounts you’re pitching have already been through a process before coming to you either from leads nurtured by marketing, contacted via your business development group or a combination of these, even more times they may have been recommended by a partner. Each of these touches are an opportunity to learn more about the company and add to the information that you have internally existing. If that information isn’t enough, there is a vast internet with information available to track down certain nuggets that could lead to a conversion. More so, capturing all your data with Sugar Hint can truly be a lifesaver in this instance.
Listen. Talk. Listen. Repeat.
One of the things that people often forget during their pitch is that this is a time for conversation, and that conversation cannot be one-sided for a partnership to evolve. There’s a saying that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason but there are many of us who forget to listen when it comes to “pitching” to the customer. Your pitch needs to be 100-percent tailored to the customer you are wanting to convert, and this requires active listening. Take the time to breathe, don’t talk over the customer and actually listen instead of trying to think of how you’re going to pitch next or steer the conversation. A guided discussion means that you need to listen in order to find the next step, take time to reflect, and finally, recommend. The most advantageous thing you can do during the conversation is to listen and that is a true tenant of the customer experience that you should be driving during your sale.
Can you leave the pitch behind? Companies want to mitigate risk, what can you share with them that’s more than a slide on a screen and speak to the heart of their fear? How will they derive value, find a solution, and how can you solve their problem? These are all essential questions to consider during your sales conversations. Breakaway from the comfortable and walk alongside your customer to deliver an outstanding customer experience and convert that customer to one for life.