The Only Acceptable Time To Start Your Sales Pitch

Posted by Michael Hurczyn on April 2, 2015

In Inbound Sales


My wife will attest that I'm the guy in this video, but I would argue I'm not alone on this front and many wives would say the same thing about their husbands. The video description on Vimeo even reads: "'Don't try to fix it. I just need you to listen.' Every man has heard these words. And they are the law of the land. No matter what."  

I've known for many years that this is something I need to work on.  Being aware of this concept helps, but it's a difficult discipline when such strong emotions are involved.  I often catch myself and just listen, but when I don't, I usually get a stern reminder of my rank.

Now, what if instead of a spousal conversation, this was a sales conversation?

Let's pretend the girl in the video is a prospect, and the guy is the sales person. The prospect Is it time to start your sales pitchexpresses a problem and most sales people, in this scenario, will stop listening as soon as they see the problem and start formulating a solution. Next, as soon as they see an opening in the conversation, they'll offer their solution without being asked for one. What ends up happening is the prospect becomes defensive because no one really likes their faults pointed out to them, even if they know they are truly faults. 

So how do you get your prospects to ask for your solution?  Stop Fixing Them and ask questions!  When someone tells you the proverbial "...there's all this pressure, and I don't know if it's ever going to stop," instead of pointing out the nail, try a more empathetic approach.  

With your spouse, you could be more personal.  Perhaps hold her while you ask questions like:

Can I do anything?
Am I making it worse?
(gently) Do you remember when this started?
When's the last time you felt good?
Has anything changed between then and now?
Have you sought help for this problem?
Did you ever come across a solution?

If dealing with a prospect, it's pretty similar except for the holding part.  Express some compassion and empathy, and maybe transition with:

Wow.  That must be frustrating.  You must be at your wits end!  You know, a lot of people I speak with are dealing with a similar issue.

Then ask some questions like:

How long has this been going on now?
Has anything changed between then and now?
What do you think is causing this?
Have you sought help for this problem?
Have you talked with anyone else about this?
Did they offer a solution?

Asking enough good questions should eventually nudge your prospect to ask something akin to, "So what would you do?" and that is the only acceptable time to start your sales pitch and ask a question such as, "Have you thought about...?" or "Have you considered...?".  Before that point, you are just another typical salesperson instead of a trusted advisor.   



As an additional resource, here are 7 sales articles from various thought leaders that all have an eerily similar message.

Your Prospect Assumes You're A Jerk by Dave McLaughlin 

Key Takeaway:  "Your [sales] rep needs an efficient way to show prospects that he’s other-centered and not self-centered. That he’s an “Always Be Helping” person. That's who your buyer wants to talk to."

How Do You Stop A Sales Person From Talking? by Dave Brock

Key Takeaway:  "To be fair, most sales people know just enough questions to ask to be in a position to transition the conversation to be about them, their products and their company."

3 Tips for Anybody Who Works in Sales by Gary Vaynerchuk

Key Takeaway:  "When you’re good, you have both parties’ interests in mind. When you’re good, you’re not selling, you’re solving a problem. When you’re good, people don’t think of you as a salesperson."

Stop Fixing Them! By Rick Roberge

Key Takeaway: "Make the sale, then fix them."

What does 'other-focused' mean in sales follow up? by Carole Mahoney

Key Takeaway: "People don’t like to be sold, or qualified to close. They don’t want to follow your agenda, they have problems of their own- one of which is now figuring out whether you can really help them and how and if it is worth their time to find out."

Case History - Another Pitiful Sales Cold Call Exposed by Dave Kurlan

Key Takeaway: "When salespeople fail to listen, not only do they fail to gain favor, traction and velocity, but they perpetuate their well-earned reputation as a group of people who do not listen, only care about making a sale, and who couldn't care less about helping."

Wouldn’t it be nice to see potential customers raise their hands and ask you to engage? by Pete Caputa

Key Takeaway: "...most of the world's salespeople still get most of their business by interrupting prospects with piss-poor pitches." 


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