Say your company is offering a new line of artisanal beer glasses designed by local glass blowers. You’ve just stepped in front of the C-level team of a large wine and spirits firm to wow them with your product. You don’t want to waste any time, so you launch right into your pitch. Three minutes into your presentation, the CEO stops you and says, “Wait. We’re discontinuing our beer line this winter.” Uh-oh. Wrong product, wrong time? Not necessarily. Listening more upfront, establishing the need before you advocate, or having an internal coach can avoid wasted time.
Ever tried to have a conversation with someone who absently nods while you talk because—you can see—he or she is just waiting to say what they want to say? Annoying, right? Makes you feel like getting up and walking out of the room? Welcome to the world of a potential customer who is at the receiving end of a one-way sales pitch.
KNOW THYSELF? BETTER YET: KNOW THY CUSTOMER. The sales landscape is littered with stories of salespeople who pitched products and services to potential customers they didn’t bother to research. Taking a naïve (at best) or arrogant (at worst) approach, these kind of salespeople think all they need to do is dazzle with facts, figures and sales acumen to seal the deal. Or they think the product pretty much sells itself, so why do any research about potential buyers?
We recently interviewed 24 top executives in the process of developing our SalesSpeaking® course. Listen to Sharon Black, President of Strategic Accounts at Robert Half International, as she tells the story of the novice salesperson who didn’t put much stock in knowing his audience.