So you have found your prospective buyer and got a bite after some initial outreach. Before you do anything, take a step back, breathe and consult where you are in the selling framework.
A common mistake I made, even after some time running multimillion-dollar sales, was getting too excited as soon as a buyer showed any interest. As I’ve stated several times now, this only achieves two outcomes:
1. Makes you seem needy: which kills deals
2. Forces the buyer out of his or her buying pattern: which kills deals
You have a defined selling framework with known transition points for a reason and you know how to finely tune yourself to the state of mind of the buyer by now, so make sure you stick with it.
You have sent your initial outreach email (or 5 minute cold call, or you bumped into them at a conference and had a 2 minute conversation) out to a prospective buyer that asked for a quick 15-minute call. They have come back to you with something like ‘sure, let’s set something up next Tuesday, 10am’. What you need to do here is stick to what you said (‘a quick 15-minute call to introduce your idea’) and deliver enough value in that 15-minute period to get your buyer to want to see or hear even more.
Once I had the self-control to limit myself to this, I found that deals would end up progressing at a much faster rate than they would otherwise. This seems odd at first I know. How by delivering less do deals progress faster? But you now know that the buyer is a human being with a certain mode of making purchasing decisions. As with the initial outreach, the buyer is not ready to receive the full pitch, they just want a little bit more information so they can make sure they understand what it is you do. Then they want to assess, quickly, if you can really hit the objective you said you could. Once you are in tune with this and pitch yourself appropriately, they are more receptive and the cycle progresses.
These conversations are always going to be fast and to the point so make sure you own it from the start. By doing so not only do you please the buyer by not wasting her time, she understands that your time is also valuable. Make a point of stating this whenever you can just to hammer home the point.
Use your outreach email if you sent one and expand on the points you made. If you remember you basically made three points:
1. Why I’m approaching you
2. What I do and a proof point
3. A specific ask
So follow the same process except this time give the detail you no doubt wanted to give first time around. I recommend this structure:
1. Start by stating you said you wanted 15 minutes and that’s all you’ll need. In addition you have another sales call shortly so you have to be off. Once you have made these comments, stick to them – even if the buyer wants to hear more. You can always schedule another call.
2. Then detail a little further why it is you are talking. Reiterate your initial point about why you approached them then state what you would like to get out of the call. Keep it as straightforward as possible: ‘I’m hoping that by talking for a few minutes now I will develop an understanding of you and you will understand more clearly where I believe we can work together. If we are both on the same page let’s schedule something more in-depth’
3. Give an overview of what your role is and what your solution is. Expand on the proof points and name some real world examples
4. At this point your contact will no doubt have some questions. Answer them if they are high level. If they are asking for specific operational or technical details, state firmly that it’s probably a bit early for that as we don’t have basic deal terms in place and don’t even know if you’ll be good partners in the long term, but in principle we will be able to provide all of that information
5. Then, assuming you are on the same page (at least loosely), your contact will ask for something to review, what I term an ‘artefact’. What this is will differ depending on your industry. In some cases you might be able to send a whitepaper. In others you might send an email detailing some of your ideas. A lot of the time it will be a pitch-deck, detailing your company and what you do.
6. Sign off, commit to delivering your artefact as soon as possible and set a time constraint. ‘I’m in back-to-back meetings for most of the rest of the week, but I am available Thursday morning. How about we catch up on the deck/document/next steps then?’ is all you need to say.
From that point, your job is to deliver on what you said:
1. Send the artefact
2. Get in contact at the agreed time to discuss next steps. At that point, either arrange a more in-depth review or move on
The artefact itself needs to deliver even more value than your pitch just did. Make sure it is as tailored as possible to the buyer, addresses specific challenges that she is currently facing and demonstrates one or two positive ROIs that she will want. If you have done your research correctly she should want to know more and invite you to talk in even more detail.
Check out some of our Advantage Plans for more help, then head on over to the next blog post on delivering your pitch. Alternatively, get in touch and let's see if we can figure it out together.