17/02/2009 | Skills
In the 7 years that we have been working with private equity-backed businesses one of the most prevalent issues and regular barrier to delivering the predicted sales conversion ratios has been the misunderstanding of the difference between pitching and genuine selling.
Pretty much any book on how to sell will tell you to focus on the customer’s needs and wants and try to satisfy them. Yet despite this and the myriad sales training courses available and still being paid for even today, we still see far too many sales people carrying out often brilliant demonstrations of their product and/or service, pitched against no real needs and therefore of no real value to the customer. Whilst it is true that some people will be able to identify their situation with the ones being described in the presentation and may well therefore buy the product/service even they will want a discount because the full value isn’t obvious. For the rest they will be left with the feeling that the sales person didn’t really understand their issues and that they couldn’t see the relevance of the offer. The sales people themselves will feel bewildered at the stupidity of the customer in choosing an inferior alternative or perhaps making no decision at all and will brand the prospect a time waster.
Indeed this type of pitching your best offer before the prospect has acknowledged their issues in terms that you can help with (which is the core sales skill and much more difficult to execute that most people think) isn’t limited to typical b2b sales people. Ask yourself, next time you are in front of a management team or perhaps when an advisor is trying to interest you in a business sale, has anyone taken the time and trouble to help everyone understand the relevance of the proposition before it is (often very well) articulated? Of course, such an approach needs the right platform from which to launch it and all the other human interactions such as rapport and trust are also in play but is the cart being put before the horse and is that why there is too little progress?
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