- Many thought leaders recommend that you should not pitch your clients, a model that suggests not starting with “why us.”
- There are, however, things that you should pitch if you want to make your conversations valuable to your clients, all of which improve your position.
- Switching your pitch from “why us” to the conversations necessary for better results improves your approach and your odds of winning.
I fully agree that you should avoid pitching your company or your solution early in the sales conversation. However, there are a number of other things that you should pitch early! Many of them may be completely new to you, especially if you are practicing an outdated approach to B2B sales, but they’re all useful for creating value for your clients and eventually winning their business.
What you need to do is “switch your pitch.” Switch it away from a desperate attempt to borrow credibility from your company or your solution, and switch it to an expert perspective that helps your client make better decisions and reach better results.
A View of Your Client’s World
Any inclination to pitch your company and its bona fides, whether directed by your marketing department or your own sense of comfort, should be immediately replaced with a conversation that helps your client acquire a better understanding of their world. You want to provide them with a higher-resolution lens through which to comprehend the factors that impact—or will soon impact—their business and their results. This positions you as someone who can both detect and explain previously invisible causes and effects.
If you want to pitch something that benefits your client, then a perspective that enables them to recognize the need to change should be right at the top of your list. Offering them a clearer view of their business and the decision they have to make is definitely a worthwhile pitch.
How Best to Pursue Better Results
Some salespeople believe you should follow your client’s lead when it comes to the sales conversation. I am not one of them—never have been, never will be. Consultative salespeople spend most of their time helping others produce results that they have not been able to create on their own—making them exactly the kind of people to lead the sales process. After all, your clients seek your advice because you have more experience producing the results they want, and doing so faster and with greater certainty. You can think of this as “decision-enablement,” the advantage provided by your vantage point.
As part of your leadership, you should pitch the process: the series of commitments to having the conversations your client needs to have to produce the best outcome for their company and their future. If you want your prospective client to buy from you, helping them with the process is much more likely to produce that result than pitching your company or your solution, even though those things may be important in a later conversation.
The Investment of Time
Clients who fail to generate the results they need often make the same mistake: not spending enough time exploring change or spending too little time with the people (both individual salespeople and their teams) who are going to end up being their partners in producing better results.
There is an old saying: fast, good, or cheap—pick two. Fast decisions are generally not very good, and in the end, they also end up not being cheap. We don’t spend enough time helping our clients understand why they need to spend more time working on any problem that is large or important enough to cause them change.
One of the reasons fast decisions fail is that things like “fit” and “relationship” get pushed out by any approach that is transactional. The pitch to have your client spend time with you and your team helps creates a depth of understanding and relationships based on trust, which only really emerges when you know someone understands your needs and what is going to work for you.
The more time you spend with your contacts, the better their results—and yours. Fast is slow. Slow is fast. The more our world is plagued by the complexity that results in a sense of constant, accelerating, disruptive change, the more you should insist that you and your client spend enough time working on the results they need.
How Best to Make a Decision
Making important decisions is difficult, especially when you don’t have experience making the decision. The more novel and infrequent the decision, the more room there is for you to make mistakes. Add to that an increasingly complex environment that imposes extreme negative consequences for those who choose poorly, and you can understand why your clients need something more from you than a couple of predictable questions about their “pain points.”
Here, you should pitch the factors that your clients should consider, how best to weight each factor, and how to measure each of the different delivery models they are choosing from. You should also pitch them a model for determining what’s most important to their results, helping them identify their values.
The idea that one should never pitch, like any generalization, has limited value. There is a time to pitch your company as the right partner for your client, even though you should have proven that fit through the sales conversation. There is also a time to pitch your “solution,” but you should have collaborated with your client well enough to know that you have already won—because it’s not just your solution, it’s theirs.
What’s most important is that you pitch your clients what they need from you, paying close attention to the key components of a modern sales approach.
Do Good Work:
- Remove anything from your sales pitch that is designed to serve yourself.
- Make sure anything you pitch is designed to help your client improve their ability to make a good decision and provide better results.
- Save any conversation about your company and your solution until later in the conversation, and always have it in the context of the decision you are asking your client to make.
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