Maybe it’s because we are in the middle of baseball season or maybe it’s because of the death of Billy Mays, the celebrity pitchman, is in the news…the word “pitch” is being used a lot these days!
Have you considered what pitch means? From the salesperson’s perspective, it may mean to present or explain something. Sales people have their “pitch books”, sales managers tell their team to practice their “pitch”, etc. Even Billy Mays’ profession as a professional pitchman was to promote with an approach that is extremely focused on a certain product with him doing all the talking! It might be fun, energetic and engaging, but how is it received?
What does pitch mean from the customers viewpoint? Something much different. As I heard mention of Billy’s death, I also heard “Good, time for him to shut up!” “He probably died from an aneurysm with all the yelling he did.” Wow, for as much product as he sold, there were many that did not care for that approach at all.
From Dictionary.com, pitch means to:
- put, set or plant in a fixed position
- throw, fling hurl or toss
Pitching as a sales approach has never sat well with me. What are we “throwing”, and who are we hoping will “catch” it? I observe that sales pitches are usually focused on features and TELLing people something. What is wrong with that? A couple of things…
- It means that the pitch has to be made a LOT of times hoping for a hit (sale). There are probably more fouls and balls called.
- Pitching is done toward something stationary. How many of your prospects are sitting stationary waiting for you to pitch something at them? Not too many these days.
How can you avoid being a pitchman (or woman)?
- Focus your message to your specific audience. Tie your features into the benefits that matter to them. The closer the link, the higher the perceived value.
- Use your energy appropriately. Being overly enthusiastic can send the message you are more fluff than substance.
- Stop and listen. When presenting your solution, don’t talk AT your prospect. Pause and ask for feedback along the way. They will start selling themselves AND be more engaged.
Let’s leave the real pitching to the baseball and golf pros. In sales. pitching takes more time and energy than the sales process really needs if you focus on presenting the right information, in the right way, to the right people.
What’s your perception of sales pitching?