Open It Up: Starting a Conversation vs. Pitching a Product

September 25th, 2013 by

Have you ever gotten an automated sales call that goes on for minutes before you’re able to opt out, or you hang up the phone before the pitch has ended? Have you ever received a lengthy email that used industry jargon to try to get you to buy a product, but the writer didn’t even take the time to ask if you were interested? It happens to all of us: the sales pitch. And because we, as consumers, are tired of being the target of the pitch, we’ve put our “no” faces on. As soon as we feel like we’re being bombarded with an over-the-top sales pitch we begin looking for the nearest exit.

So, as a salesperson, how do you explain who you are, what your product or service is, how it’s better than the competition’s, and why your prospect needs it all in your introduction? Here’s a simple trick: you don’t have to do it all at once. Instead, listen to the needs of your customer and conform your sales strategy around their time. Invite an open discourse about your product and address any issues or concerns they have. Starting a conversation makes it about them.

What’s the Pitch?

The sales pitch is an argument or persuasion a salesperson uses when attempting to sell their product. A sales pitch might be a phone call or email where the person introduces themselves, the company, the company’s initiative, and the product all in one sentence in an effort to persuade the consumer. For example,

“Hello, my name is John and I’m from Billy’s Great Steaks, a meat delivery company that specializes in prime cuts at low costs and we deliver the best steaks in your area; I’m calling today to let you in on a special promotion for juicy and tender ribeye steaks that you won’t be disappointed with.”

Bombardment. So much information all at once. Ideally, this method would work because the prospect has all of the information they need about the company and the product or service, and they can arrive at an informed decision right there on the spot. In the real world, however, sales pitches often come across as dry and impersonal, and they leave the customer feeling annoyed or overwhelmed. Consumers don’t want imposing, superficial personalities taking up their time, and they especially don’t want to feel pressured into buying a product they’re not sure if they need.

What’s the Fix?

Instead of bombarding your potential customer with all of the information at once, take your time. By starting a conversation you’re inviting them into an open and honest discourse. Build trust and let the prospect know you’re available when they are. A conversation gives you the chance to slow down, explain your product and your motive, build credibility, and get to know the prospect and their values. It’s not about building an argument or persuading a person, it’s about understanding their needs and addressing them.

So how is this done? One example of this is to simply say, “Hi, this is John from Billy’s Great Steaks, is now a good time to talk?” Ask if the person has the time, and if they agree to speak with you at the moment, keep it brief and let them know that you won’t take up too much of their schedule. If not, ask them when a good time to talk would be. If they’re truly interested, there will be time in the future to have an in-depth, informative conversation about your company.

Ditch the pitch

Imagine explaining the rules of Monopoly to someone who’s never played before, but you don’t have the board game in front of you. This is what a sales pitch is like: your prospect can’t see the full picture for what it is. You’re moving too fast, you’re not allowing time for questions, and you’re not letting the player participate in the game. Starting a conversation in sales is like having the board in front of you and taking a practice run. The other player clearly sees the moves and the motive of the game, they feel invited into an open dialogue in which they are an equal participant.

A conversation also gives you the chance to make sure the prospect is the right fit for your company. If the person on the other end is more interested in a quick buck with little output, they may not be the type of person you want to build a lasting business relationship with.

The Importance Starting a Conversation

We’re all busy. We’ve all felt overloaded in our daily lives, and our time is increasingly more important to us. So when we’re targeted as a prospect for a product and the sales pitch takes off without interruption, we begin to feel the weight of the overload. Consumers value their time and also their dollar. They don’t want to throw their money away on something they’re unable to feel passionately about. If the sales pitch wasn’t seen as an argument or a persuasion, but rather a means of starting a conversation, we could build deeper connections and lasting relationships with our customer community and downline. We could understand the needs of our prospects just by listening, and this would allow us to change and grow with their values.

J. Audrey Hoy is the CatalystMLM team’s resident wordsmith. With a master’s of fine arts degree from New York University, J. Audrey has served as an Adjunct Instructor of Creative Writing at NYU and she currently works as the Content Editor and contributor at CatalystMLM. Originally hailing from the Chicagoland area, J. Audrey has previously resided in Iowa City, Brooklyn and currently lives in Burlington, Vermont. She spends her free time reading novels, writing, exploring the Burlington area and enjoying the outdoors.

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