As an entrepreneur I know that sales are the lifeblood of my business, so when I am approached with a sales pitch I tend to take an analytical view. Recently I was searching for a vendor to complete my website overhaul and some of the pitches that I received…well they were interesting. In reviewing the pitches, I learned five most important points if you are not a marketing professional.
Always introduce yourself
This seems like common sense, but I received an e-mail that asked “Do you want any help with your website?” I had no clue who this person was, he didn’t include the name of his company and he didn’t give me any background on his skill or area of expertise.
Never slam a potential customer’s current product/service
This kind of thing happens all of the time and if you are doing it, stop it. When you are trying to sell to a business, they don’t want to hear how stupid they were for purchasing a service/product that doesn’t work. Believe me they already know. What works better is beginning a conversation and illustrating how your product can increase the effectiveness of the one they already use or how it can help fill the gaps. If your product/service is better, trust me they will notice.
Don’t use your years to validate a purchase
When I replied and told this guy that a vendor had been selected he e-mailed me back saying, “I’ve been doing this for 12 years and I know that your site is not going to generate traffic or leads”. Let me tell you, in professional services you need to generate traffic yes but the bulk of your work is coming from referrals. That statement from his let me know that he had no idea what I do or how I sell. If you are good at what you do, I don’t need you to tell me you’ve been doing it for 12 years to qualify that skill. The quality of your work will tell me all I need to know.
Email plus contact
E-mail is great tool and helps you out when you need an answer quickly, but it should not be the only means of contact to a prospect. This e-mail felt like spam and truthfully, I may have at least heard his pitch if he had followed up the e-mail with a phone call. The bottom line is that people buy from people, not e-mail.
The most important thing that I have learned is lose gracefully. I may not be able to use your service, but maybe someone in my network can and if I leave the conversation with a bad taste in my mouth I won’t refer you. In business you want relationships not just sales, so not getting the quick sale should not bring out the brat in you.
B2B sales are the hardest thing to do because you are not just selling to one person; you’re selling to an organization. You have to do your homework and find out what they are selling and buying and tailor your pitch accordingly.