If I sat down and thought about the truly great sales pitches that I had seen in my time as a senior EA, I think I would be hard pushed to think of more than three or four and, considering I have been in this game for longer than I care to admit, that is pretty poor.
The number of gimmicks and sloppy approaches, now, those I could reel off until I bore myself rigid and this has started me thinking about what makes a pitch good?
I think that the one theme promoting successful sales, which runs throughout my columns, is that of the ‘P’ word – professionalism. With this must also come honesty and these are probably the two assets sales professionals are criticised over the most, with them often getting referred to as ‘cowboys’ and ‘untrustworthy’.
I have impressions of some companies, after certain unfortunate dealings, which I would find very hard to change given previous experience of a particularly sloppy salesman.
Likewise, I have strong allegiance to some other organisations because of their excellent customer service and/or professionalism. This transfers into our approach to personal purchases and I, for one, am an extremely loyal customer of the retail outlet Whistles owing to the fact that one saleswoman treated me amazingly well over a faulty garment and, since then, I have sung their praises to anyone who will listen and always visit them first for a new purchase.
Likewise, when we, as a FTSE200 company, are looking at targets for possible merger or acquisition, we always go to a boutique consultancy, not because they are the cheapest or biggest but they service us well and NEVER lie to us.
Recently they approached us on behalf of another of their clients. It later became obvious the agency must have invested quite some time to properly research the possible benefits or disadvantages of the two companies having a commercial relationship.
So, in the pitch they were honour-bound to make on behalf of their other client, instead of potentially ruining their relationship with us by trying to sell us a ‘dead horse’, the agency was totally honest and up front and gave us all the facts and a detailed appraisal of the deal right from the start.
Ultimately, this lead to us exiting the process quickly and cleanly so that while, in short term, they lost out with that possible contract, in the long term they now have our trust firmly invested in them along with several lucrative briefs for future business.
I suppose what I am trying to say is, honesty and integrity, not two words you automatically associate with sales, are what sets those three or four pitches I recall as a good sales experience in business apart from the rest and, ultimately, guarantees the repeat business!