We have probably all met them.
Those guys that are so wrapped up in their own entitlement their crassness is sickening. Because they represent the biggest player in their sector they adopt a rock-star swagger that is an instant turn-off, but they don’t recognise it’s effect, because, well, they represent the biggest player in the sector.
And when one of them walks into a pitch for your business, yes trying to win your business, without any sign of deference, well … not good!
Now, it would be entirely normal to think this was very unlikely to happen. But, alas, these people are not fictional. And a senior procurement friend of Uspire had the misfortune to encounter one of them when engaging a supplier in a pitch for her business. [listen to the webinar here]
To really do justice to the level of cringe she had to endure, it may be better to hand over to her to explain …
“a big, global data communications company came to a meeting with myself and my client. They started the meeting with the assumption we knew all about them, but as my client was from Finland he wasn’t familiar with the UK-based company. So I suggested they may like to make introductions. At this point the visitor suggested that we did know who they were, to which I responded not everyone in the room knows who you are. And then it gets worse. The visitor actually said, and these words really did come from his mouth, “but I’d have to take my laptop out of my bag and turn it on. Do you want me to do that?” Stunned, I replied that I would like him to open his bag and please turn on his laptop and show us something about his company.
So, slightly dazed and confused by the arrogance, I continued the meeting as it got worse and worse until finally we were told our business was not large enough for him to waste his time on. The end. Breathtaking.”
So this is the story of one of the worst sales meetings in the entire history of sales meetings. And ironically, it was held during the same project as our procurement friend witnessed the best.
What You MUST Do
The learnings from our “worst sales meeting in the entire history of sales meetings” teach us:
- Leave the ego at the door– no matter who you are , or who you think you are, there is most likely someone who doesn’t know who you are, so at this point reputation counts for little and you are back on a level playing field. So be prepared to start from ground zero.
- Never, ever appear rude – just don’t do it. It’s not cool and your mother would be disappointed.
- Always come prepared and rehearsed– don’t just come along thinking reputation counts for everything, because, well, I refer you to point one above
So if this is what you shouldn’t do. What should you do?
Moving on to the example of a great pitch.
In our example, our procurement friend decided to invite some smaller regional players, alongside the big global guys. And these guys really did do their homework and prepared for the meeting as if their life depended on it.
Because the big players in any sector expect to be involved in pitches, they generally don’t get excited. It’s just another pitch and there’ll be another one tomorrow. However, the smaller guys get super excited, are genuinely grateful for the opportunity and exude enthusiasm. And this is how the meeting played out.
Because they were grateful and enthused they lifted the whole energy of the room. This undoubtedly had an effect on the audience, putting them in a relaxed and welcoming frame of mind.
They thought about their audience. What level of representation they needed, and what expertise they needed in the room.
They were fully familiar with their prospect and their business, having taken the time to research correctly and with precision. They had done deep research into the market-place and its challenges and mapped these to the prospects business, creating what-if scenarios and solutions that were way beyond the normal expectations of the audience for this stage of the process.
They also responded to probing with flexibility and agility, trying to find solutions for any objections or concerns that were raised during the meeting. And because they knew their products and the market-place so well, responding to the probing was fluid and energetic.
How To Win Your Pitch
The qualities of a professional, effective pitch are pretty compelling:
- Smile and enjoy– generally if people smile they start to enjoy themselves, and if they enjoy themselves they relax and the audience relaxes. So, no grumpy pants.
- Equip yourself well – attend with the correct number of people and of the correct seniority and expertise for the meeting.
- Acknowledge the opportunity – no matter how big you are, and even if this is your third pitch meeting of the day, treat it as if it is the most important meeting you have ever been involved in. Because for the client, this is a big deal. And even though you may be selling the product or your service several times a day, there is a very good chance the client will only be buying it once.
- Research. Thoroughly– research the company, its’ market, its’ customers, its’ competitors, their customers. Go as deep as you think necessary to unlock something that your competitors will not have thought about.
- Produce solutions – it may not be required but if you can identify a current business challenge faced by the client and then show how your solution can help, you are demonstrating value-add at a very early stage. Which can only be good.
- Be flexible– try and be as flexible as a gymnast and respond to challenges and issues with solutions, and please DO NOT go in defence mode, it simply exaggerates the issue.
For many commercial leaders pitching and presenting is their meat and drink. It is fundamental to their need to find and grow new business. But it is surprising how many slip into complacency and forget about the basic rules of respect and preparedness.
Presenting with Impact is one topic covered in a Uspire Discovery Day. Discovery Days are an introduction to The Network, from Uspire, and give commercial leaders to opportunity to experience the value and power of The Network in one high-energy and motivational day.
The Network, from Uspire, is a unique blend of commercial coaching and mentoring, and peer-to-peer learning, which is delivered via local POD’s of like-minded professionals. Read more here and understand how The Network can help your professional development.