This is it: your big enterprise sales pitch. You’ve spent hours crafting the slickest, most polished sales deck the world has ever seen.
You’ve got your best suit pressed and your shoes shined. Now it’s time to present, and you’ve totally got this. You’re a flew slides in, and everything seems to be going well until a senior stakeholder interrupts with a question:
“Does it integrate with Oracle?” Your answer, unfortunately, is “no.”
“Oh,” the stakeholder says. “If it doesn’t integrate with Oracle, we can’t use it.”
All of the time and effort you put in — and all the money your company spent to get you out there — just went down the drain. You lost a major opportunity for good, and all because you didn’t do the one most important thing when prepping a pitch: your homework.
With so much competition out there, and buyers who seem to have less time than ever to dedicate to your pitch, a more nuanced approach to information gathering is crucial. How else to cut through the noise and target your message? In the latest installment of our playbook series, our team of Emissaries — made up of marketing buyers from some of the world’s biggest companies — shared some insights on what you should be looking for, why Googling alone isn’t enough, and how you can use insider knowledge to build a more effective sales pitch.
The basics are still the best place to start.
You can’t build an outstanding presentation without first crafting a solid foundation. This is where the more traditional pre-sales research should take place. And, fortunately, the internet has placed a wide variety of useful information at your fingertips.
Scour social media and review recent press releases — even something as simple as reading a company’s “About Us” page can all yield useful data, or examples to draw on, to build into your pitch. It may not seem like the most exciting part of selling, but your prospect will appreciate it.
“No matter how good a person is at selling, if they haven’t done their homework, it’s going to be obvious,” said one former Senior Director of Marketing at Cisco, “and it’s going to turn a potential buyer off immediately.”
But research alone isn’t enough, as another Emissary, a former SVP of E-Commerce at Costco, warned.
“You have to be somewhat careful. You have to use that information appropriately, not just to prove that you’ve done some homework. Use it to carve out what it is that you want to really sell and how it will make a difference for the buyer.”
But you can’t do that by simply telling a company about itself. Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to dig deeper.
Know everything there is to know about their tech — and who will use it.
How well you know the ins and outs of your potential buyer’s current tech stack can make or break a deal. No matter how thoroughly you understand your prospect’s needs or how perfectly your particular solution can address them, if it’s not compatible with their current setup, you’re out of luck. “Nobody’s going to rip out everything they’ve got just to accommodate your technology,” our Cisco Emissary said.
Before demonstrating all the ways your solution holds the answer to your buyer’s problems, do the research to make sure its compatible with any software they use. Do you or anyone on your sales team know someone who works in their IT department? Our Cisco Emissary suggested leveraging your professional network to get those critical backend details which will determine if you should even be selling to them in the first place.
“Companies would come in pitching their wares, and they weren’t aware that we had an Oracle foundation and platform that’s not integrable with some of the technologies out there,” our Cisco Emissary said. “The salespeople spent a lot of time preparing and getting in the door, only to realize that the Oracle platform wasn’t compatible with their stuff. That’s going to effectively end the meeting — and the sales process.”
But what if you don’t have any direct contacts within the organization? Our Emissary had a solution for that, too.
“Because most MarTech companies have really good relationships with other companies in the space, ask those firms if they work with your prospect and if they know what type of platform is behind the firewall. That way, you can understand how to tell the right story and explain why your solution makes sense.”
Once you’re in, don’t only inquire about the technology itself. Invest some time in getting a better understanding of your prospect’s organizational structure. Who will be using the platform? Do they have the right resources for training? What is their procurement process, and when do IT or data security folks become involved? Being able to address these concerns from the outset will significantly strengthen your pitch and enable you to clearly explain how your solution aligns with the buyer’s operations.