The moment you become an entrepreneur, you automatically become both marketer and salesperson for your business. Both of these hats require certain skills and a learning curve that cannot be skipped over. Unless you want to end up with a failing business!
I get a lot of “I’m just not good at selling” from entrepreneurs all the time. If you have a tendency of saying that, just stop it. I’m serious!
If you hate selling your own idea, why in the world will anyone else love selling for you, let alone buy your offer.
The truth is:
Selling is an art. It is you doing the greatest service to humanity. Giving them a solution to a problem they face. There’s no shame in that and it’s certainly not a trivial matter.
Which is why you need to make selling a huge priority. Revenue and business growth come as a direct result of selling. Selling comes as a direct result of being of service to fellow human beings. If you have issues and old paradigms about selling, it’s time to get a paradigm shift.
Whether your business is a one-man show or an entire organization with investors and stakeholders, you will need to keep perfecting what’s commonly referred to as your signature sales pitch.
What is a sales pitch?
I’m glad you asked.
According to Merriam Webster, a sales pitch is speech that is given in order to persuade someone to buy something.
Wikipedia says it a bit better. In selling technique, a sales presentation or sales pitch is a line of talk that attempts to persuade someone or something, with a planned sales presentation strategy of a product or service designed to initiate and close a sale of the product or service.
What a mouthful.
I mean it sounds right theoretically, but practically? I don’t get it.
So scratch all that jargon and the other confusing definitions professionals might give you.
Here’s my working definition.
A sales pitch is a conversation between you and the person you want to serve that is well structured, clearly directed, and designed to lead both of you to a destination that is profitable for all parties concerned.
Looking at it from that angle, it’s easy to see that sales pitches are all around you.
If like me you have children, you’re always being sold. You are also always delivering sales pitches. From what to eat, where to go on vacation, whether or not to invest in cable or Netflix. This list is endless. The same holds true with your friends and work colleagues or employees.
So a sales pitch isn’t just for potential clients. And by the way, remember I said “conversation?” Never forget that! Everyone you approach and wish to do business with whether they are investors, clients, employees, or suppliers all require a great sales pitch in order to close the deal.
The only difference between selling your family on what to have for dinner versus a potential client you want to work with is the well thought-out and carefully structured approach taken with the client. You need a great sales pitch framework that can drive the meeting and build rapport with your potential client.
This sales pitch is usually a headache for most entrepreneurs, mostly because they overcomplicate the darn thing. It’s not meant to be rocket science. You are dealing with a fellow human being after all.
So let me help you avoid some of the common errors I am seeing entrepreneurs make during sales pitches by listing out the mistakes as well as how to fix them.
Mistake #1. Little to no listening time during the sales pitch.
This especially applies if you’re doing it live, either virtually or in person.
Most salespeople just aren’t listening during the pitch.
In general, the ability to listen is becoming a rare commodity. This seems to be the era of “who is the most vocal” in the room or on social media. So it comes as no surprise that during sales meetings, the entrepreneur will struggle to listen. Because even though they may not be talking, they are probably stuck in their head planning what to say next once the other person shuts up.
This is not active listening.
What to do instead:
Start listening with your head and heart. Selling is very much an emotional game. And you can’t win this game if you’re not fully invested in the present moment with all your senses, especially your ears.
Listening to your potential client is crucial. In so doing, you’ll be able to pick up their needs and struggles.
It will give you a real-world opportunity to pinpoint their problem and adjust your approach accordingly so they can see how your solution will give them the results they want.
Mistake #2. The sales pitch tends to be a mechanical monologue lacking any real-world human factor.
A presentation filled with research and data might be nice and appealing to the logical mind, but if that’s all there is to it, your pitch won’t end up in a closed deal.
People don’t like to be talked at. They also don’t like feeling overwhelmed. Even if you’re sure they have no idea what’s good for them, it’s your job as an entrepreneur and a salesperson to make your sales meeting a conversation. Something that engages the other person.
What to do instead:
Shift your focus from making presentations to making conversations that end in a mutually beneficial agreement.
The main work isn’t to get your pitch picture perfect so you can sound like a well-rehearsed robot, the work is to make sure you give all that research, data, and information a real human touch. Storytelling your presentation or what is nowadays called story selling might be what’s missing from your sales pitch to give it that final boost of success.
Mistake #3. Too impersonal and lacking due diligence.
Riding on the back tail of the last mistake is this catastrophic one. Unfortunately, I recently got to experience this as a receiver of a very cold, impersonal sales pitch.
A very esteemed gentleman with lots of academic credentials attached to his name on LinkedIn requested to connect with me not too long ago. Being the lover of people that I am, it was a no-brainer.
His first message was hmmm okayish but so dry I had no way of nurturing a relationship that was already dwindling. The second message was a long sales pitch asking me to click on a buy now button of a product that in no way related to me.
The message didn’t even have my name included. Clearly, either copy-pasted from a generic message that could only resonate with a persona nowhere close to my interests, work, or gender! *Sigh.
Please, I beg of you, stop destroying your chance of business success with such pitches.
What to do instead:
Do your research and due diligence. Especially when you’re presenting 1-1 or in a closed space such as LinkedIn messages, Skype calls, and in-person meetings.
Impersonal traditional sales pitches are dead, but entrepreneurs are still doing it! Choose to be among those who close most of their sales meetings because they’ve done their homework.
Mistake #4. Many entrepreneurs are too in love with the wrong thing.
And by the wrong thing I mean they are too in love with their product or service instead of the client. Whenever this is the case, the sales meeting is doomed to go wrong because what tends to happen is the entrepreneur will focus more on the sale instead of the client.
If you think your pitch is perfect, your offer is perfect, but perhaps your potential client or investor disagrees, a wall is automatically formed.
It is a hard pill to swallow, but you must wear the service hat and leave your ego at home whenever you’re attempting to close a new deal.
The best salesperson is the one who forms the best relationship with their client. In the 21st century all successful businesses will be based on building relationships first.
And it is easier said than done I know. But unless you want to be one of those wantrepreneurs that talks a big game with nothing coming in at the end of the month, it’s time to make some adjustments.
What to do instead:
Perform a self-check regularly to make sure you’re still operating under the right assumptions. Understand that your ticket to freedom and success lies in serving people generously and genuinely caring about the wellbeing of others, not just selling your offer.
Let your prospects and clients know that you like and care about them more than you care about “closing them.”
This is something very abstract and hard for the logical mind to get, but trust me it can be done. The intention and energy you radiate when you walk into a sales meeting or as you begin that virtual meeting with a potential client is something that can be felt by everyone involved.
If your premise is centered on your love for helping people, it will influence the entire sales meeting. The golden secret for nailing this is something I shared earlier. Become a better listener. Listening builds trust, and customers buy from people they like and trust.
The opposite is, of course, also true and the interesting part is, your revenue at the end of the year as well as the number of successful sales meetings you have will tell the real story behind your motive for engaging in business with others. Those who are in love with serving and helping people always do better long-term.
If you want to have a real business, you must learn to love the art of selling. Without clients what you have is an expensive hobby. And whether your product or service requires buy-in from potential clients, investors, or other important stakeholders, the way to create a thriving business is to win people over with your sales pitch.
Now that you’ve acquired little gems of knowledge and you know some of the common errors to avoid with your pitch, it’s time to get to work.
Start crafting your next sales pitch. Test it out immediately and use that feedback to keep perfecting it. Don’t forget, the work doesn’t end with the pitch.
Make sure you’re prepared to nurture and follow up with all the new people who will be coming in to invest in and support your dream. After all, you got into business to help people. Stay focused on that track, use tools and process that make you more efficient, and expect to land more sales.