“We think we have a great story to tell here. We need to figure out how to best tell that story.”
On the phone was the president of a large real estate firm. We were discussing how to put together a pitch for the chance to win a major project.
And I was I was getting worried.
Why? Because when someone tells me that they “want to tell their story” I get worried. When you’re delivering a pitch, the goal isn’t to tell your story. The goal is to show how you can help the prospect write a happy ending to their story.
Too many people in business think that the goal of a sales pitch is to describe their firm and capabilities. As a result, they waste time detailing qualifications or “telling their story.”
But a great sales pitch proposes a solution to a business problem. That means that the best pitches don’t focus on the presenters. The best pitches start by recognizing the big challenge that the prospect faces. Then they propose a way to help get past the challenge.
Let’s say that your prospect is a corporation looking for a firm to manage their 401-K plan. What is the business chellenge that the prospect faces? It could be several things. Perhaps the last manager of the plan did a poor job of employee relations. In that case, they’re looking for a vendor that will do a better job of keeping employees happy. Perhaps the existing plan is too limited with too few choices for the employees. Perhaps the most important issue is putting in place something that will be inexpensive.
The best pitch will be the one that focuses like a laser on how to resolve that challenge that the prospect sees.
To be sure, you can talk about how you’ve helped other clients solve similar problems. In that sense, you can talk about your qualifications.
But the focus should be on the prospect’s key problems and challenges. Forget about your story. Discuss how you can make the prospect’s story have a happy ending.
Here’s Elvis singing “Happy Ending” from the 1963 film, “It Happened at the World’s Fair.”
Thursday, July 31st, 2008