Your pitch goes perfect, the guy on the other side is fired up…this one is in the bag!
But what unfolds is different than what you expected. Your emails go unreturned. Your calls are ignored. You’re left scratching your noggin at the radio silence.
This ever happen to you? It has to me plenty and in retrospect it could have been potentially avoided.
Usually you start by pitching one person. What I’ve come to realize is that even when this person is the decision maker they still might need to get buy-in from multiple people. This could be the rest of their team, an adjacent department, or even the CEO. It’s great to make this person you’re champion, but that doesn’t mean you should let them sell for you.
No one will ever be able to pitch your product effectively as you do. By letting someone else circle the wagons after a phone call that’s effectively what you’re doing. You’re betting that someone who’s heard your pitch once over the phone can convince their colleagues you’re offering is worthwhile. This is bad for a handful of reasons:
- You’re jeopardizing your value proposition being conveyed most effectively
- You’re subjecting a decision to internal forces that are out of your control. Maybe the person pitching your product internally is someone everyone hates. Maybe they’re coming off a recommendation that went poorly. Maybe they smell like fish so no one likes standing next to them long enough to hear them out.
- You’re missing out on the valuable data collection that comes from conversations with the other involved parties. What are the roadblocks? Who are the roadblocks? How can I dismantle the obstacles preventing this from moving forward?
Here’s how to avoid this:
The end of the pitch is always about next steps. This is where you need to find out exactly what their process is and supplant yourself in it…with force!
Determining the process is usually finding out the other people that are involved in the decision-making. Once you do this, you want to schedule a time for you to pitch them instead having the person you just spoke with do the pitching.
You can accomplish this by saying something like this at the end of your pitch:
You: “So what are the next steps on your end?”
Them: “I’ll need to go over this with my colleagues and we’ll go from there”
You: “Sounds great. Just so I have some insight into how I might be able to best help you, who are the other people you’ll be speaking with.”
Them: “Our marketing director Jim and CEO Tom”
You: “I imagine they’re probably going to have some questions, so why don’t I make your life a bit easier and just briefly explain what we do to Jim and Tom myself. That way if they have any questions, I can answer them right there. Let’s hop on a call next week at a convenient time for the 3 of you. Do you have your calendar open and are you shared on theirs?”
Them: “Yes. I am”
You: “Great. Does Thursday at 2, 2:30, or 3 look good for you guys? Why don’t you confirm with Jim and Tom that this works. Once I get confirmation, I’ll send all three of you a calendar invite.”
Them: “Sounds good.”
There is a chance you might encounter some resistance here which will require calling an audible, but often you won’t. People like to be told what to do because they’re lazy. So when you imply efficiency and tell them what to do, they’ll usually go with the program.
The most important takeaway here is to try and control the sale the entire way. An awesome pitch to the decision maker isn’t always enough. You should strive to be pitch everyone who is involved instead of having someone who’s heard about your product for 30 minutes be responsible for pushing the sale forward. You’ll give yourself the best chance for success as well as arm yourself valuable information on why someone might not be moving forward. Even when it doesn’t work out, this information saves you the time and energy spent we often spend treading water in a pool of BD ambiguity. And there’s never cute girls in the pool of BD ambiguity : )