Choose the Right Sales Pitch

If you're bored with your pitch, it's a sure bet your prospects are too. Here's how to tailor the pitch to the prospect.

By Tom Hopkins

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Think for a moment of your last sales presentation. What was your mood? How did you deliver the information? Did you have fun with it? Were you matter-of-fact? Or did you do it by reflex such that you can't recall?

Many of us have just one sales message. Because it works successfully with some of our prospects, we overlook the fact that our single message falls flat with the rest of them.

One of the most dangerous things that can happen to anyone selling a product or service is to become bored with the presentation of it. If you're bored-and you'll probably sound that way if you feel that way-why would anyone else want to hear it? You must always remember that even if you've given the same presentation 10, 100 or 100,000 times, it's very likely the first time your potential client is hearing it. So you have to make it a memorable one.

Let's suppose your basic presentation takes about five minutes. Of course, you vary it slightly to fit each prospect's situation but basically, you give the same presentation in the same way to everyone you're talking to. The style you always use might be described as brisk, businesslike and pleasant.

That's good. You've chosen a style that's effective between 30 and 60 percent of the time (effective in the sense that it will allow you to make the sale, if everything else is right). Now let's go after the other 40 to 70 percent who are turned off by brisk, businesslike and pleasant types with their cheerful smiles.

"Wait a minute," you might be thinking at this point. "Wild-eyed funny folks don't buy my product."

Maybe so, but some of your prospects have been talking to brisk, businesslike and pleasant types for so many years, they've got combat fatigue. They feel like shooting themselves in the foot every time they meet another salesperson exuding the standard sales manner. They send signals, hoping you'll recognize them and change your tune, but very few salespeople pick up on them.

While it's true that the average salesperson has his signal-receiving antenna raised every time he goes in for any kind of a sales interview, he doesn't hear much besides static because he's usually thinking too intently about himself and what he's going to say next. So he misses the message, plods doggedly ahead with his standard presentation and soon is saying his farewells without landing the order.

Champion salespeople also have their antenna up. But messages come through loud and clear because they're giving all their attention to the prospect. They know what they're there to say much too well to give any thought to it when face-to-face with opportunity. In fact, champions have three versions of what they're there to say ready for their prospects. Having their minds clear, these salespeople can easily read each potential client's message, go with the version of the presentation that best fits this prospect's attitude, and will soon have the order.

Be a champion! Design and practice three variations of every aspect of your presentation. You may be varying your approach to some degree now, but you'll enormously increase your ability to fit your words and actions to each prospect if you'll consciously work at creating triple-headed responses.

One phrasing might be slangy or homespun, another might be lofty or long-worded, and one should be clearly stated in standard English. Each phrasing can be said fast, at medium speed or slowly. You can speak softly, in normal tones or loudly. Your attitude can be subdued, friendly or direct. That's 81 variations on a single answer to an objection (3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 81).

How you say what you have to say provides another great opportunity to gain sales power by allowing you to instantly adapt to any situation. To accomplish this, develop these three moods of delivery:

1. Light. You can be easy without being careless, and you can be funny without getting hooked on it. I've known salespeople who'd rather get a laugh than make a sale. Do some of your laughing on the way to the bank by using humor in sales situations to further sales, not to amuse yourself. Cultivate a relaxed approach that'll ease you into a closing position with your more informal prospects who can't stand the all-business attitude.

2. Medium. A cordial, alert, matter-of-fact stance gives you the safest start with old customers who have fickle temperaments and with new prospects you don't know well yet.

3. Heavy. Be prepared to talk fast and concisely in high-pressure situations. Nothing works well here except the facts delivered in short, crisp sentences. No jokes, no flowery phrases, no confusing technicalities. Practice this one hard, and you'll be surprised how often you'll use it-and delighted how often you'll win with it.

Train yourself to think in terms of three: three routes to every treasure, three solutions for every problem, three chances at every opportunity. Do this and you can't fail to multiply your effectiveness, reduce your frustrations and expand your income.

Tom Hopkins

Tom Hopkins is world-renowned as "the builder of sales champions." For the past 30 years, he's provided superior sales training through his company, Tom Hopkins International.

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