People, Not Pitches
Adapting Your Sales Technique to Work In Our Commoditized Economy
Spoiler alert: This piece contains a strikingly unpopular opinion on sales in a service-based business. You might disagree with my claim at first, but I don’t think it will take long to change your mind.
Perfecting the sales pitch is not the holy grail of selling. For a service-based business, the sales pitch could be the kiss of death.
For decades upon decades, business coaches have been harping on the importance of perfecting a well thought out and rehearsed sales pitch. Ideally, you would commit your presentation to memory so meticulously that you could pull it out at any moment and regurgitate it for anyone willing to listen. You could give your pitch in the shower, on the subway, over sushi, in a box, with a fox, on a boat, on a plane… you get the picture. The pitch would become so deeply ingrained within you, it would become its own entity and all but eliminate you from the equation.
But, this is a huge problem. It’s not a problem because the sales pitch is inherently flawed. It’s not that you shouldn’t have a clear idea of what you’re offering and how it will benefit your client. It’s a massive problem because people want to do business with people—not pitches. If all you have to offer is a sales pitch, you may as well send an audio recording in your place.
The Economy Has Changed. Your Sales Technique Should, Too.
The problem is much bigger than the sales pitch. The sales pitch is the perfect example because it has been relied upon for so long and used by so many. The problem is in using an outmoded set of tools that don’t allow those in a sales position to connect with their potential client.
The biggest challenge I see with sales professionals today has nothing to do with having a competitive advantage in price, service offering, or technology. Sales professionals are working harder than ever but aren’t seeing positive results.
The economy has changed, and so have the tools needed to succeed. To break through the sales barrier, you don’t have to be smarter, wealthier, or have a fancier website than the advisor next to you. You have to know how to connect with people.
I’ve worked with an abundance of sales professionals in diverse industries. When I compare those struggling with those who are thriving, I notice one significant difference – their approach.
It’s Not What You’re Selling, But How You’re Selling It
Would you be surprised to learn that more than 70% of sales transactions today take place without a person ever even being involved? This is an economy unlike one we have ever seen and it’s primarily the result of advancements in technology, increased competition, and accessibility.
It seems as though everything in our world is provided on-demand 24/7. We can attend school, order food, open bank accounts, and live stream shows from halfway around the world all without ever changing out of our pajamas. No matter how great your product or service is, the average consumer sees it as a commodity.
People’s reasons or logic to make decisions about who to do business with have changed. Today more than ever, relationships are what open doors, land more deals, and close more sales.
Speak Human. Stay Off Script.
People do business with those they know, like, or trust. Since likely, the potential client doesn’t know or trust you yet (the nature of the sales beast), you have to get them to like you. Likeability and trust are fostered with genuine human connection—connection that is lost in a rote sales pitch.
Going off script not only humanizes you, but lets your personality shine through. It shows a vulnerability that puts your audience at ease and lets them get comfortable with the offer you’re presenting. If you can’t break through the person-to-person barrier, your message falls on deaf ears.
Inspire A Relationship-Building Culture
You’re providing a service. It’s high time you start acting like it. Now that you know what has to be done, your number one goal should be to teach your team how to build relationships. Their objectives will be to promote likeability, foster trust, and ultimately make the consumer feel comfortable in choosing your company for their service needs.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to help your team flex these new relationship-building muscles. The more your team is able to practice these new skills and move away from the rote sales pitch model, the more confident they’ll become in going off script.
Let Confidence Be Your Closer
Would you be surprised if I told you that, when asked for my sales pitch, I simply tell potential clients I don’t have one? I know. Ballsy, brazen move. Or is it?
I think we can all agree that desperation isn’t a good look, and confidence looks great on everyone. One of the plus sides of going off script is showing that you’re confident not only in who you are, but what your company has to offer. You don’t need to hide behind a stilted pitch or lead with some cheesy hook. You eliminate the friction of a pushy salesperson facing off against a defensive prospect. The pitch is replaced with an effortless conversation and the hard sale with a smile and a handshake. Now doesn’t that sound a lot more—human?
Selling today is different, but it’s not necessarily more challenging. Sales are made with relationships, not pitches. Toss that stale pitch out the window and a lot more doors will start opening for you.
Author Marwa Zakharia is the CEO of AssetBook. She has extensive upper management experience, holding positions such as CEO, COO, VP, and providing guidance to companies in various industries as a business strategy consultant. Marwa has worked in the financial services industry and FinTech space for over 20 years, helping companies increase their market share and develop revenue growth processes. She is well-versed in human resources, operations, and overall strategic planning.
Marwa actively volunteers her time as an executive board member and volunteer to non-profit organizations whose causes she is passionate about supporting.
Connect with Marwa Zakharia on LinkedIn