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Posted: January 15, 2013

Ditch the pitch

Try listening instead

Liz Wendling

Closing sales and attracting new business is a delicate dance of positioning yourself, engaging your prospects and earning trust in a very short period of time. It will be difficult to earn new business if you start off your meeting throwing out a sales pitch instead of creating a sales conversation. People don’t want to be assaulted by a one-way pitch. They want to be invited into a two-way conversation

Some salespeople still launch into a sales pitch too early in the conversation, which puts the prospect in a defensive posture and creates a needless barrier.  They’re too busy pushing their solutions instead of listening to prospects pains and problems.

Great salespeople ask precise probing questions. They listen and extract pertinent information.  They question and comprehend the pressing problems so they can prescribe the right solutions.

Your potential customers are watching you closely from the moment you’re meeting them to how you’re treating them in the sales process.  If you’re being pushy with a cookie-cutter approach and the focus is on you, it’s unlikely that you will get a second meeting or the sale. That approach creates resistance and causes potential customers to flee or retreat.

There are many reasons prospects feel the urge to withdraw from your pitch. One blaring reason is that you are using tension-filled sales pitches instead of having high-value sales conversations. Why else would they feel like they have to lie, hide and evade you?

A tension-filled sales pitch is a one-way monologue. You talk endlessly about how great you are or how perfect your product or service is without asking probing questions to find out your customer’s true needs and pains.

A high-value sales conversation is a discussion where you have an open, two-way dialogue about your prospect’s situation, problems, concerns and issues.

Many salespeople give customers no choice but to employ the age-old tactics of avoiding, evading, hiding, stalling, vanishing and lying. Salespeople are to blame for triggering these reactions and they’re responsible for preventing them.

Many salespeople are using outdated sales phrases, techniques and closes that create tension. This raises the heat and adds unnecessary pressure in the sales process. This causes customers to flee. Many don’t even know they’re applying subtle pressure and tension because that’s the only method they have employed.

How can you start a conversation in a totally natural, familiar way that doesn’t sound like a sales pitch to your customer, doesn’t feel like a sales pitch to you and yet increases your chance of getting your next referral or making your next sale? 

Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a magical phrase that will make the other person want to buy your product or service – it just doesn’t exist. What does exist is a tension-free approach that will elicit interest from the other person so that they will want to engage you in a conversation. Every business is different and every conversation is unique to that business.

I’m not suggesting that every sales person is to blame for this behavior.  The customer has some responsibility here as well.  What I’m suggesting is when you enter into a sales conversation you take responsibility for distinguishing yourself in a different way so the customer does not view you like every other sales person. It’s up to you to create the conversation that creates mutual respect.

Liz Wendling is the president of Insight Business Consultants, a nationally recognized business consultant, sales expert and emotional intelligence coach. Liz is driven by her passion for business and generating results for her clients. Liz understands the challenges that business owners are facing building a business and selling their professional services in today's market.

Liz shows clients how to tap into and use their innate strength, power and confidence to develop highly successful businesses. She teaches them to create effective, dynamic and fluid client conversations that turn interested prospects into invested clients who keep coming back. 

Go to: www.insightbusinessconsultants.com or email Liz@insightbusinessconsultants.com

Check out Liz's latest book, Everyone Sells Something!  http://goo.gl/1prAlm

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Well said, Liz. It's so important to put yourself in the other person's position. If you were the prospective customer, would you like to be bombarded with a sales pitch - hardly able to get a word in? I don't think so. Having a discussion with an emphasis on listening is key. Thanks for your article. By Gale Dunlap on 2013 01 15
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