Businesspeople sell. At every stage of your marketing, from your print advertising to website copy to boardroom meetings and networking events, the responsibility falls on you to communicate the value of your services, to justify their costs, and to promote your own credibility. Sales requires skill, insight and business sense: if you can’t sell, you won’t survive.
Persuasive selling doesn’t require black magic, outrageous promises or cheap manipulation; it only requires that you understand what your prospect truly wants to know – and how to deliver that information quickly and effectively. Sales is simply communication, refined and focused.
So how are your sales skills? Every sales pitch is based on one or more of four basic strategies; the most effective sales presentations include solid, practical aspects of all four. Take a hard look at your own sales strategy and see how many medals you’re taking home.
The Gold Medal: “It Will Save You Money.”
Two lines govern the thoughts of every business decision maker – a red one and a black one. No matter ultimately what problem you solve or what needs the client has, they will make spending decisions based almost entirely upon how efficiently your service proposal widens the gap between the two (preferably with the red one on the bottom).
Your product or service, on some level, should always save your client money. Whether or not you choose to explicitly include that point in your marketing is your choice; however, if you can’t effectively make a cost-savings case when pressed about it, then you aren’t yet in a real position to pitch your services.
In terms of making an effective case for business spending, nothing in the world beats verifiable cost savings: they are often immediate, relatively easy to verify, and don’t require much visionary optimism. If you can convincingly demonstrate that your services will cut current expenses, you’re home.
The Silver Medal: “It Will Solve Your Problems – Or Help Meet Your Goals.”
Your prospects need your services, don’t they? If so, they have problems to be solved or goals to be reached, and are considering the possibility that you might help them do it. Second only to a concrete cost savings pitch, that possibility is your best hope of closing the deal.
Unfortunately, problems and goals are themselves often intangible things and harder to verify than bottom-line cost savings; a successful sale requires a degree of hope from the prospect, as well as the willingness to take risk. Also, you could have an uphill battle on your hands if the prospect does not agree with you that a problem exists in the first place.
The Bronze Medal: “It Will Make You Money.”
How many times have you read an email or seen a website promising endless riches in short time and without real effort? Do you believe them?
The problem with a direct pitch for higher profit is that it usually requires suspension of disbelief to be successful. That kind of optimism (or insanity) is harder to find these days, because so many sales pitches never get beyond this point; years of wild promises and unrealistic profit projections have created an extremely skeptical sales environment that most profit-pitches can’t overcome. If your sales pitch relies heavily on a promise of more money in the future,your professional credibility had better be spotless – the slightest doubt in your word will kill this kind of sales pitch.
The Also-Rans: Dr. Feelgood’s Buzzword Buffet
Style and presentation techniques have an important role in sales, advertising and copywriting: properly done, a high-quality presentation enhances credibility and helps a prospect overcome the emotional barriers to logical decisions. When presentation becomes the entire pitch, however, sales quickly gets ugly: it becomes an exercise in confusion and pickpocketing, full of buzzwords, gimmicks, manipulations and outright lies.
Don’t be an also-ran. Skip the buzzwords and gimmicks, and simply deliver value with style. You will improve your sales, encourage word of mouth, and attract higher quality clients by demonstrating that you not only understand the prospect mind, but respect it as well.