At the end of your pitch to potential buyers, is it game over? Despite all your hard work to create a dazzling presentation about your small business offering are you leaving prospects cold instead of ready to sign on the dotted line? If this situation is happening too often, it may be time to “ditch the pitch.”
Selling by talking at customers about the unrivaled value of your products or services is out the door. For starters, today’s buyers most likely conduct research about your offering before they pick up the phone or send an email inquiry. Recent research about retail sales indicates that 81 percent of consumers go online – to social media channels and review sites — before heading to the store and spend an average of 79 days gathering information before making a major purchase. The same goes for business-to-business buyers who typically are 70% of the way through their purchase process before they contact a vendor’s sales team.
Savvy buyers don’t want to be sold. They want to be engaged and they want to trust you. Overwhelming your buyers with too much information can have just the opposite effect. Today’s successful sales process is about showing how your small business offering can solve someone’s particular problem or challenge. That’s why successful selling requires you:
Do your homework: Start planning for your customer meeting by doing your homework. Get to know as much as possible about the buyer through online research and talking with partners or vendors who may know the company. Also be aware of any changes that are affecting your potential buyer, for example, has the company purchased or merged with another, taken on a large customer or had a change in top-level management. Also find out who is involved in the decision- making process. Often there are several layers of management beyond your initial contact, so you need to know what will influence their final decision.
Prepare: Armed with knowledge about your buyer, determine the key messages you want to convey during the meeting – phone or in person. Prepare responses to questions you anticipate will come up.
Be a counselor: Throughout your meeting maintain a consultative position. As you ask questions; offer advice. Try to add as much value as possible during the exchange. Also by asking probing questions, you may uncover additional opportunities for your small business products or services.
Be personable: People buy from people. Aim to forge an emotional connection with your buyer by conveying empathy for their issues. Also be aware of your non-verbal cues. Your body language speaks volumes. Be sure your eye contact, hand gestures and body stance don’t send the wrong signal when you’re trying to build a rapport.
You may only get one opportunity with a potential buyer. Stop pitching and start engaging to better your hit rate.