“Thanks for your time, but I don’t think it’s a fit for us.”
Why would your hottest prospect turn you down so quickly after your first meeting? You crushed it. You killed it. You knocked it out of the park. Your pre-sales research was solid, your deck was on-point, and your delivery was flawless. On top of all that, they seemed really into your solution. So what went wrong?
To find out, we talked to Emissaries who were former marketing executives at companies like Cisco, GNC, and Petco. They gave us the inside scoop on what it takes to sell to them—and that’s info you can use to start improving your pitches today.
Give them something useful—and do it immediately
Experienced enterprise buyers have sat through more than their fair share of sales meetings. So many, in fact, that they now have an almost negative connotation, conjuring up images of a passive, one-way street where a slick sales bro plows through a PowerPoint until time runs out.
You know your solution is great and just what a potential buyer needs. But firing off product features isn’t enough to make busy marketers feel like their time is being used wisely.
“First off, don’t call it a sales presentation,” a former Senior Director of Marketing Communications at Cisco told us. “Figure out another way to position it so that it’s more about the prospect and adding value for them, rather than ‘I want to pitch something.’”
Instead of rolling through a deck, provide them with new information about emerging trends or common pain points in the industry. Give them something they’ve never seen before. Give them something that makes them better marketers. Give them something that makes their lives easier. But whatever you do, don’t give them a sales pitch.
After you’ve demonstrated immediate value, ask questions about their current business needs. If you can show how your particular solution addresses them, all the better. A hands-on tutorial will illustrate the true capabilities of your product more clearly than a few bullet points on a slide. In the end, you’ll have made a more convincing case, and your prospects will walk away fulfilled, having gained new skills in the process.
Don’t hesitate to get a little creative, either.
“If you can take the pitch offsite, whether you invite potential buyers to dinner while at CES or do something where you’re creating an experience that will be associated with you, those are all things I’ve seen work really well,”our Cisco Emissary said.
Focus on the bottom line
You know your tech inside and out, and it’s perfectly reasonable to want to wow prospects with its impressive features. But in marketing, most high-level decision-makers aren’t technical, so clouding your presentation with back-end specs can distract from a much more important message: how your solution impacts their bottom line.
“Decision-makers aren’t going to remember technical details, but they will remember that what you did for Intel is what they need to have done,” said our Cisco Emissary.
Focus your presentation on the items that matter most to enterprise marketers. Has your product driven revenue, boosted lead gen, increased profit, or won new business for clients in the past? These are all safe bet stats to prepare ahead of time—but don’t forget to make sure the data is relevant to your audience. As one of our Emissaries, a former Chief Digital Officer at Mercer, noted: “Successful pitches are always tailored to the interest of the key stakeholder.” During the research phase, take the time to ask your prospect what matters most to them and be sure to address it in your presentation.
Stop using your deck as a crutch
You worked hard on your sales deck. It looks great and all the information is there to make your case—people just need to hear it. But are you simply reciting it word for word when it comes time to present? Even the best content can quickly become tedious if all you’re doing is reading from a slide.
Instead, think of them as more of a guide. Remember, you’ll be competing with open laptops and phone screens for your audience’s attention. By breaking away from slides, you’ll be free to engage buyers with more questions about their specific needs. This is a great tactic to keep their attention and gain new insight. Use feedback to change course if needed and steer your presentation in a direction more relevant to your audience.
But what about all that hard-won data that didn’t make it into the presentation? While it may not have made the final cut, that doesn’t mean it has to go to waste.
“You never get through the slides. That’s the importance of a good leave-behind. If you didn’t get through all of the slides, but a prospect is really curious, they’ve got the leave-behind to look at.”
former Senior Director Marketing Communications, Cisco
Printing out and repackaging information in a way so that it stays with potential buyers long after your meeting has ended will keep your pitches more concise and enable prospects to interact with your presentation on their own time.