BD 101: What Doctors Can Teach Us About Pitching

by Scott - 6 Comments

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The first thing a Dr. says when you step into his office usually goes a little something like this:

“So tell me what’s a matter?”

Only after you answer this question can the Dr. treat you.


But what if he didn’t ask this question? Say you injured your ankle playing hoops. After three days of trying to tough it out, you head to Dr.’s office for treatment. When you finally get a chance to see the doc, he just starts putting your arm in a sling?…he tries to fix a problem you don’t have.

Business development and sales people make this same mistake all the time. I know I have.

You finally get that meeting. All you want to do is tell them how awesome your product is before you have any clue why it may be awesome for them.  You charge forward selling, hoping that at some point something you say resonates. At the end of the meeting they seem interested, but strangely you never hear from them again. They don’t respond to your emails. They don’t answer your calls. And the worst part is, you have no idea why. Sound familiar?

In the complex partnership/sale, you need to understand the person you’re pitching and their pains before proposing your solution. You accomplish this by starting your first call or meeting asking questions. You’re goal is to listen, not to sell. Examples of some questions you can ask:

What are you focused on at company X?

What are your current goals?

How do you know whether you’ll be successful?

These type of questions provide context about whether you’re solution is truly solving their problem(s). When you are, this information allows you to optimize your pitch by honing in on how your solution alleviates their pain. If you’re product does more than one thing, you know which feature to focus on. If there are multiple benefits, you know which one to hammer home. GAINING TWITTER FOLLOWERS? THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT WE SPECIALIZE IN!!!

If it turns out it’s not a good fit, you’re able to understand why you never hear from them again. This enables you to efficiently move on and even provide feedback to your product team about what target customers are looking for.

In complex partnerships and sales, you’re always better off listening before going into sales mode.

No one wants a sling for their ankle sprain.

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