You probably wondering what is the ‘sales pitch ditch’. It is the worst of the worst sales pitch mistakes that are doomed to fail before they even start. The sales rep that wanders in to a prospective client completely unprepared, the telesales agent that tries to sell their product to a competitor, the sales executive that doesn’t listen to their prospect or the marketing person that has no idea about marketing.
Now I am certainly no expert but I have assisted hundreds of clients in developing sales and marketing material and pitches. Some have worked very well and some have been an absolute flop. Below are some examples of those (from my experience) that have managed to truly find the bottom of the sales pitch ditch.
On one extreme, some clients prefer to stick with good old black-and-white. Lots of mundane words that utilise every cliché in the book. It is almost as if they feel challenged to present the most uninteresting, unattractive offer possible to their prospects. No differentiating points, no offers, specials or discount, and added to that nothing that appeals to their prospects. It is an interesting idea to get a sale by boring your prospects but it simply doesn’t work.
Creative genius but no appeal
Then, on the other extreme, are those clients that are literally bursting in creativity. They cannot simply present their product or service in a short and concise way. They have to use complex psychological analogies coupled with vague (yet beautiful) strings of text and images that give the prospect a fantastic creative trip but are left with no idea of what exactly they are being offered, why it should appeal to them and what the benefits to them are.
Just like me
Certain industries have a tendency to pigeon hole their offerings and, as such, most of the players tend to play within certain parameters. The VOIP / Telecommunications industry is like this with hundreds of providers who all offer the same things and in between the technical jargon it is difficult for providers to differentiate themselves and this makes it even harder for prospects to do so. If you cannot present your offering in a way that differentiates your company from the competition then chances are that prospects will be less inclined to use your company. Make sure you are able to explain why you are different and not how this separates you from your competitors but what your prospects stand to gain by using you versus someone else.
No clue and no plan
I had a sales executive walk into our offices the other day. No appointment made. They wanted to discuss the possibility of offering a service that simply did not make sense for our company across a number of areas. They proceeded to launch into a pitch without even asking any relevant questions or if there was even a need from our side. If they had simply called prior and asked a couple of necessary and relevant questions they would have realised there was no opportunity and saved both of us some time. Just as important as having a plan when in front of a prospect is to make sure you are in front of the right type of prospect. This means profiling prospects by various attributes.
such as industry, size, area, number of its users, turnover, type of decision-maker, etc. By targeting the right type of prospect this reduces time wasted and improves the chances of getting a sale.
The technical genius
These are the sales people that like to present every possible known fact to theirprospects, overloading them with complex pricing and features options with no regard for their prospects wants or needs. This has the uncanny effect of confusing clients and making them choose alternatives or just not proceeding at all. Simplify your offering so it is understandable and at the same time be sure to explain what your offering offers to your client and why your product / service is a better option than the competition.
One of the easiest ways to get information from prospects is to simply ask relevant questions and at the same time listen. It doesn’t help to have a sales script that is so rigid that there is no room for deviation. Going through a script reading in parrot fashion without asking questions or not listening to answers is only going to prolong the pain for yourself and your prospect. Through asking questions, a sales rep might pick up on certain opportunities or pains that can be addressed through their product or service offering. This makes it easier to not only differentiate the offering but also helps build trust with the prospect and ultimately improves the chances of getting a sale.
This applies to sales reps and telesales people that simply do not listen to their prospect. I see this in face-to-face presentations, as well as telephone pitches. The tell-tale signs of disinterest are presented by the prospect – a sigh, look away, yawn, intermittent interruptions etc. This is easier to pick up face-to-face, however, over the phone one is able to pick up on verbal cues and it is important to listen otherwise your pitch will be falling on deaf ears.
Forget to ask
One of the most common mistakes made by sales / telesales is simply to not ask for the sale. It is one thing to give a detailed overview of your offering, identifying that the prospect is interested and needs your product / service, however, the final hurdle of actually asking and closing the deal seems like a step too far for many sales people and by simply not asking, this provides many different possibilities for a sale to fall through.
By being aware of the most common sales and marketing mistakes and ensuring you don’t apply these, you should be able to engage better with prospects ensuring you differentiate your company, highlighting what it is that you can offer and helping to not only ensure prospects have an understanding of what you can do for them, but also improve your chances of converting these opportunities into sales.