How many times have you worked hard to give a great sales presentation only to receive blank stares at the end of it? It’s often because a lot of pitch pitfalls masquerade as best practices. And even the seasoned seller can fall into them. So next time you walk into a sales meeting with a skeptical prospect – or create marketing materials for that prospect – watch out for these five B2B messaging “best practices” that are anything but.
Leading with a clever hook.
If you ask someone at a networking event what they do for a living, their attempts to impress you often come across as either incomprehensible jargon (“We optimize demand capability utilizing state-of-the-art proprietary technology”) or vague platitude (“We help people succeed”). Both fall flat. Avoid these extremes by going for speed and clarity over precision and profundity. If your company makes accounting software, say you make accounting software. By using plain language and clearly defining your industry in the first few seconds of your pitch, you can get everyone on the same page right away.
Putting your prospect at ease.
Prospects don’t buy when they’re comfortable; they buy when they’re uncomfortable. Yet, rather than helping prospects feel the pain of inaction, it can be tempting to put them to sleep with a lullaby about your product’s lovely features and functions. Instead, wake your prospect up with some interesting news – like a surprising statistic or recent industry finding. Then, show how your product solves the problem your prospect didn’t know they had until now.
Focusing on the benefits.
Benefits are great. After all, products should do things. But chances are your product does a lot of the same things as your competitors’ products. (All can openers open cans – or at least they should.) So instead of focusing on what your solution does, focus on what it does differently. (“Our can opener’s blade is five times sharper, so you don’t have to open the same can twice like with other products.” Or, “Our can opener is safer than the alternatives, so kids can help prepare dinner without you worrying.”) Don’t get so caught up describing your solution that you forget to tell your prospect what makes your offering unique – and why it matters.
Building trust by building rapport.
You know you’re smart, capable, and credible. But your prospects don’t know you from Enron. So, it’s going to take more than charm to win their trust. Never leave a pitch without offering some hard proof points, like a satisfaction score, your percentage of repeat customers, or a big client name. Give your prospect a verifiable reason to believe the things you’re saying.
Going for the close.
“Always be closing;” it’s the unavoidable sales mantra. But, as you probably know too well, asking for your prospect’s business right away can result in a closed door rather than a closed deal. Instead, end your pitch by asking for only the next step – a meeting, a chance to demo your product, or an introduction to a key decision maker. Whatever you choose as your call to action, make it an easy one, something your prospect can say “yes” to right now.
Have you come across – or fallen into – any of the traps above? Here’s a helpful framework for avoiding them: The 5-Point Pitch. Whether you’re preparing for a 60-second conversation or a 60-minute presentation, it’ll help you describe what you do in a way that gets attention, gets understood, and gets a response.