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Archive for the ‘Pitching’ Category

Arrogance vs. Confidence

Posted by Shane Murphy on Wednesday, December 13, 2006

handshake1.jpgArrogant vs. Confident… have you considered the difference in your presenting? Do you know how you come off to a potential client?

This distinction popped out at me as I was looking around the net for something great to blog. I found it at BidBlog:

In short, arrogance kills listening skills. And where there is no listening, there is no learning. Where there is no learning, there is no way to determine the most meaningful way to differentiate your offering for the customer in question. Without meaningful differentiation, you are a commodity. When you are a commodity, you compete on little else but price.

I’ve learned in my days that when it gets to just competing on price, you’re in trouble. If your price is the best, you get the business. But what happens when your price, when your rate isn’t the best? Can you overcome that objection with confidence, or does your arrogance get the best of you?

I know, I know… you’re sitting there thinking “I’m not arrogant at all!”

Well, I’ve made that mistake many times over in my career. It’s still a struggle for me to keep my confidence appearing as such, and not spilling over into that ugly arrogant style. It usually doesn’t rise up and slap me in the face until I lose a deal and review what the devil went wrong.

Selling isn’t about just being the best. It’s not about being the best-priced. It’s about caring for the needs of the client. It’s about giving the client what they want, not just what we want. It’s about creating those win-win opportunities and working them out together.

It’s a little bit preachy, I know…

Posted in Pitching, Schmoozing | Leave a Comment »

Preparing Your Pitch – 5 Simple Steps

Posted by Shane Murphy on Tuesday, November 21, 2006

five.jpgAs I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, I have a hard time just sitting through any sort of sales presentation and listening to the pitch. I find myself constantly taking notes about the presentation itself, rather than focusing on the product or service at hand. Today was no different. I was fortunate enough today to witness two different sales pitches, each for completely different services.

Without going into details on exactly what I was pitched on today, I saw this as a great chance to put forth some of my thoughts on building a solid pitch.

1. Be prepared. It should go without saying, but it’s all too common for a presentation to fall flat… not because the presenter didn’t know their product, but because they didn’t take the time to prepare to present it to their target audience. An unprepared, templated pitch is not unlike an annoying cold call. When it’s done, you know who called and you know what they were selling. You’re just not sure what any of it has to do with you.

2. Customize the pitch. To some of us, customizing is as much a no-brainer as putting on our shoes. For others, it seems to be well beyond their understanding. These are no longer the days of “cookie-cutter presenting,” where my service is a one-size-fits-all variety. Every customer who I pitch is unique. They have unique needs, unique conceptual understandings, and unique budgetary requirements.

Late this afternoon, I was talking with a colleague who was telling me how frustrated she was with a certain architect — an architect who told her that when they moved to their new offices, all projectors would be mounted on the ceiling in a specific way. After asking some questions, it was apparent that the architect was telling her that the format was how “all the other buildings are,” and nobody would use it any other way anyhow.

Why? Because ‘customization’ would be much harder than doing what the client wanted. And she told me that she planned to bring in a different architect. What a shocker.

3. Have examples. Not one-size-fits-all examples, but real examples that resonate with the client. This, of course, goes back to being prepared. Ask questions, do research *before* you step into that room to do your pitch. Make your presentation match their needs and you’ll see an immediate impact.

4. Ask questions and take notes. Ask more questions of your audience than they ask of you. Write down what happens while you pitch. If you can’t write while you’re talking, you better kick your memory into overdrive when you’re done. This really didn’t happen in either of the pitches that I was exposed to today. Both were bland, and in neither did my suitors ask me questions about what I need.

I’ve always followed a simple rule with questions — Ask two questions for every one they ask you. Now that takes effort!

5. Follow up. I can’t stress this one enough. The actual time spent in your presentation pales to your prep work and your followup. Fail to followup, and you can pretty much plan to fail.

BOTTOM LINE
: Delivering a sales pitch is about a lot more than just showing up and spewing everything you know about your product or service. Preparing, customizing, showing examples, asking questions, and following up are the five critical links to success. Miss one of them, and you’ll be chasing the game forever.

Posted in Pitching, Planning | Leave a Comment »

The Discount Trap

Posted by Shane Murphy on Thursday, November 2, 2006

scared.jpgLast night, I had coffee with a friend who is working to start up a business here in Central Ohio.  He’s a good guy with a great personality, and he’s selling widgets.  A lot of what he’s going to have to do is network his butt off and get some word-of-mouth marketing going.

And, like so many of us, it’s going to be a long road, but one he can navigate pretty well if he exercises some patience.

But midway through our conversation, the red flags started flying.  Before he’s even started — before he’s ever made his first sale — he’s already talking about discounting his products to “get things off the ground.”

He’s PLANNING to discount!

After choking on my coffee, it was time to get serious with him.

What signal does a discount send to a prospect?  That you overpriced your widgets from the start, planning to drop the price?  That your widget isn’t worth what you’re asking, and only the unsavvy are stupid enough to pay that price?

Or is it that you just don’t have the guts to sell it?  After all, it’s easier to just drop the price, isn’t it?

Have a look at this short article over at Solo Business Marketing, where they pulled three critical tips from “Sales and Marketing Magazine” that will help any salesperson — no matter what you’re selling — to avoid the discount trap.

Posted in Closing, Pitching, Planning | Leave a Comment »

The One Piece of Advice You Can’t Sell Without

Posted by Shane Murphy on Monday, August 14, 2006

moneyroll.jpgI’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a loyal reader of RainToday.com. I subscribe to their newsletters, I visit their site several times per week, and I take a lot of their advice and put it into action.

So imagine my glee this weekend when I came across a free ebook that they’re offering up. 34 pages of quick-hit advice from some of the best in the business. This baby is an easy read, but it’s one that you’re going to want to read, read, and read again.

One of my favorite entries in this fantastic ebook comes from Alan Weiss, who wrote the book Million Dollar Consulting.

If you’re talking about price, you’ve lost control of the discussion.

As salespeople, we all know that to be true, right? When I first started my career, I would cringe every time I heard that dreaded, yet almost inevitable question, “How much is it?” I always go back to that Zig Ziglar standby nowadays — “Price is a one time thing, but cost is a lifetime investment.”

And it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, really. Once you get that mindset, I’m convinced that you could sell anything. Weiss drives that point home flawlessly, using time-shares as his vehicle to do so.

And his contribution to the ebook is but one of 11 contributors. Have you downloaded it yet?

Posted in Closing, Organizing, Pitching, Planning, Prospecting, Reporting, Researching, Schmoozing | Leave a Comment »

Presenting via Sticky Note?

Posted by Shane Murphy on Friday, July 28, 2006

sticky.jpgHow many times have you sat there in your office, knowing that you were going to need to develop a Powerpoint-type presentation for a sales presentation?

If you’re anything like me, those powerpoint lightbulbs don’t exactly go off in your head, followed by a stream-of-conciousness type creation of the pitch.  Rather, I tend to beat my head on the table a lot, some muttering under the breath, all that sort of silliness.

I expect that at least some of you know what I’m talking about.

Today, I stumbled across a very interesting idea on SellingPower.com.  Using sticky notes to get your mind right, then plowing through the actual creation of your presentation.  It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s a different take on a simple brainstorming concept.

Not to mention that they do it in very simple list format, which translaters wll to my way of thinking.  I hope you find it helpful…

Posted in Pitching | Leave a Comment »

Searching for the Next-Gen BBQ Grill

Posted by Shane Murphy on Friday, July 14, 2006

grill.jpgA bit on pitching today, but from a unique angle.   I came across this very interesting blog item on VentureBlog this morning, and after some thought decided that it warranted mention here at AccountHUNTER.  Not because it’s a sure-fire way to help you build a better pitch, but more because it shows two things clearly.

  1. A well-prepared pitch is a better pitch
  2. A client who recognizes the quality of your pitch is more apt to ask “Why not?” as opposed to “Why?”

The crux of the item is simple… a quick overview of two pitches.  One demonstrated an impressive level of understanding of the clients issue at hand, the other more of a demonstration of confidence and understanding of the product being pitched.

Look at it and take it in as you head for wherever you’re heading this weekend!

Posted in Pitching | Leave a Comment »

The Cherry On Top

Posted by Shane Murphy on Wednesday, July 12, 2006

sundae.jpgYesterday was a fun day in the grand scheme of my world.  I pitched a pretty large company with a proposal for a sales training opportunity.  A few weeks of prep work, followed by the development of my proposal and finalizing my presentation.  Training is something that’s near and dear to my heart, but the process that I used to put the package together is one that I write about on this blog on a pretty regular basis.

Lots of research, lots of work, and the presentation went great.  When I got back home last night and hit the sack, my mind was already churning about the “thank you” letter I intended to draft the next morning.  As I tried to conceptualize the words I intended to use, I started thinking about just how many people never take the time to extend this simplest of gratitudes.

Of course, if my competitors choose not to send a letter of gratitude, all the better for me, I suppose…

I was talking to a good friend of mine today about the “Thank you letter.”  He’s a small business owner and he’s used to making these sorts of buying decisions.  Notice that I didn’t say “hiring decisions,” but “buying decisions,” because when a client buys your proposal or an employer hires you for a position, it’s a purchase, isn’t it?

My friend compared the “Thank you letter” to the topping on an ice cream sundae.  “The thank you letter is the cherry on top,” he told me.  “If the sundae was no good, it doesn’t matter.”

The next time you wrap a pitch, keep this in mind.  Make sure that your sundae is top class, then add that nice juicy cherry to help you stand out from the crowd and win the business.

Posted in Pitching, Schmoozing | Leave a Comment »

Unique New Tool for Advertising Agency New Business Hunters Launched

Posted by Shane Murphy on Friday, June 30, 2006

logo_ad-ology-logo.jpgSales Development Services (SDS), a leading provider of business intelligence and revenue development solutions for the advertising industry, today announced the nationwide availability of Ad-ology(R) – The Ultimate New Business Tool for Agencies.

If you’ve not yet taken a look at Ad-ology, you’re missing out.  I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, and they do offer a free trial to qualifying agencies.

Posted in Pitching, Planning, Prospecting | Leave a Comment »

Aisles and Aisles of Opportunity

Posted by Shane Murphy on Tuesday, June 27, 2006

groceries.jpgA new Giant Eagle opened in my neighborhood yesterday.  I live in a relatively small suburb of Columbus, but we’re accustomed to having pretty much everything under the sun, when we want it – if we really need it or not.  So, I was naturally curious to see what the fuss was about (and why Kroger had spent the last six months doing a complete overhaul, to the point where I just stopped going).

Inside, that was no grocery store… not in the conventional sense anyway!  Specialty food areas, chefs at every turn cooking stuff that I’ve never even heard of, and I realized that this sort of “new store” represents a great opportunity for marketing campaigns.  Not just at this fancy new Giant Eagle, but for grocery stores who wish to compete with these sprawling mega-stores who seem to cater to everybody’s needs.

USA Today ran a great article about these mega-stores back in May.  Tip of the Hat to Ad-ology for pulling that one up for me.

Posted in Pitching, Prospecting | 2 Comments »

The ‘Elevator Speech’ – Does Yours Sink You?

Posted by Shane Murphy on Wednesday, June 14, 2006

speech.JPGHave you taken a hard look at your elevator speech lately?  Ever given that quick pitch to somebody and seen the pained look in their eyes the longer you talked?  This piece from RainToday.com gets right to the meat of the matter with this all-important piece of your overall approach to many potential clients.

If you succeed in turning your introduction into an opportunity for the client to talk, questions will be your best tool for gaining immediate credibility. You should keep the conversation flowing by asking diagnostic and clarifying questions. Don’t hesitate to let the client know how you’ve faced, and overcome, similar challenges.

Bottom line in all of this: no matter how prepared you are, you can blow yourself up in short order if your opening comes off weak.  So don’t do it!

Posted in Pitching, Prospecting | Leave a Comment »