Want To Close More Business? Do This.
Last week I was at a business networking event that I attend fairly regularly. One of the other professionals there, someone I have known for several years, approached me and began a conversation that quickly turned into a sales pitch. Now, most business owners know that pitching at the wrong time actually hurts you much more than it helps. Nevertheless, I found myself in this conversation-turned-pitch session.
As you can imagine, I wanted to exit this “conversation” in the worst way; but no degree of redirection or demonstration of disinterest stopped this train from rolling once it had left the station. This person had a new product, was proud of that product, and was going to tell me about it whether I wanted to hear it or not. Sound familiar? I’ll bet it does, because we have all been in this conversation – on both sides of it.
Fortunately for most of us, we learned that pitching and hard-selling doesn’t work very well, and we’ve adapted our selling techniques accordingly. Unfortunately for others, like my conversation partner on that day, they’ve apparently missed the memo that pitching is responsible for hurting more than it helps – unless you’re “Vince the Shamwow guy” (and, let’s face it, much of the success of the infomercial is attributable to the characteristics of late night audiences).
Pitching at the wrong time – or all the time – makes a businessperson look “needy” or hungry for business. And if you’re that desperate, prospects will begin to think that there may be a reason. It’s a primary factor in why some salespeople cannot close business; and most small business owners understand that. Yet there I was, standing in a networking meeting being pitched to. And, to make matters worse, the others around us moved further and further away as this impassioned pitch continued, and my conversation partner did not notice.
If you want to attract and close more business, pitching is not the way to do it. The best way to close business is by listening to your prospect’s needs and fitting that need (if you can) with a solution that you offer! If the target of your sales pitch has no need for your product, it could be the best product in the world – and offered for free – and the prospect will still not buy it.
You cannot determine what a prospect’s needs are if you are too busy telling that person about the product you want to sell. You can only tell them about how you can solve their need by having a discussion with them, asking questions, and listening to what their need is. If you have a solution once you know what they need, and you can show that your solution will solve their problem, you will have their attention, and likely gain their business. A pitch at any other time is like the sound of the teacher in those Charlie Brown cartoons.
As I tell my clients all the time: Stop selling and start solving, and sales will come along. If you want to close more business, all you need to do is meet the needs of your prospects! If you do this, you will have much greater success than if you act like you have a hammer, and treat every conversation as if it’s a nail.