February 5, 2023

Pitching without being pushy

Ron Stein | 2/4/2019

Let’s be honest. You believe the solution your business provides is the best in the market. You’re confident that others will love it too. So, there’s no hesitation telling people that your product or service is the greatest out there and the features rock! 

Telling is a polite word for pitching. 

Pitching crosses the fine line between the excitement of persuading others that your offering will make a difference in their life and manipulation. Before you take offense and go on a rant, let me be clear — I know you would never do anything unscrupulous. 

But perception is reality. 

Think about networking events you’ve been at. Someone walks up to you, introduces themselves and pretty much goes on a non-stop ‘talk’ about how great their product is. Then, before you can get the first word in, they shove a card in your hand and walk off.

Geez, I’m sure that ends up driving tons of business! 

This isn’t an extreme example. There’s no doubt that your event buddy really, really believed they had something great and you could use it. They certainly were not consciously trying to be manipulative. Yet, deep down you probably felt they were trying to control the situation. 

This is not how you get people to buy. Sure, you’d never do this — ever. Well, more than likely you sometimes say a little too much about features and benefits before finding out what your audience really, really wants. It could be during a presentation, an email exchange, or at a networking event. 

Stop pitching and start having conversations about your solutions. 

Many buyers are apprehensive about marketing and salespeople. This is your starting point. You mean no harm. In fact, you’re thinking how you can help the person you’re addressing. But they dread meeting you or landing on your website, because experience tells them salespeople are usually talking at them, not with them. There is a path with many steps from first meeting to purchase and we selling humans fear we’ll lose the prospect forever if we don’t spill the beans, all of it now. It turns out the opposite is true. Buyers don’t care about you, they only care about their issues and how they’ll solve these. Research into what your target market wants and why they buy is important, but not enough. Armed with this information you can have a real conversation that creates value from the moment you open your mouth. 

What’s important to you and how can I help you get there? This could be the most important question you’ll ever ask a prospective buyer. It’ll keep you from spouting off a list of features in rapid succession, most of which your buyer has no interest in. Instead, it opens up a two-way conversation. You’ll have a chance to showcase your knowledge of the issues they face and then zero in on the benefits of the one to three features that matter most to your audience. The icing on the cake is three-fold (1) you’ve put the buyer at ease and they’re engaged, opening up, (2) your personal and company’s expertise becomes clear, and (3) you’ve differentiated yourself from competitors. This is the value your business offers.

Show the results you make possible. The conversation is rolling, but that's just the beginning. Depending on your product or service, it's probable that you will not move the buyer to a purchase on the first encounter, or should I say conversation. The path to conversion is different for everyone, yet there’s one thing that’s critical during every stage of the conversation — the value you add and the results you produce for customers. Ideally these are things your competitors can’t do. Value and results are not necessarily the same, yet both will differentiate your business. For instance, share valuable insights on the buyer’s market and what other businesses are struggling with based on your experience. Write up a few cases studies derived from customer successes with similar issues — turn this into a short story too, giving the results attained. 

Most companies start their conversations with prospects by pitching, both online and offline. Starting with “amazing” features and benefits first is wide of the mark. Any thing that sounds like a pitch will fail to get you the desired results more often than not. 

Stop pitching, and start a conversation. it’s the easiest way to create real interest and engagement, and set you apart from the competition in the process. Let’s start a conversation!

Ron Stein is founder of More Customers Academy, helping business leaders build strategic messaging and positioning that cuts through the competitive noise to grow revenue. Ron has developed his own highly successful 5-step Stand Out & Sell More approach to winning new customers as a result of his twenty-five years of business development, marketing, and selling experiences. He works with a range of businesses, from startups to large corporations across industries including technology and healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services and banking. Ron conducts workshops, leads company meetings, offers keynote talks, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or by email.

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