Wednesday Workshop – Beyond the Pitch
This workshop looked at the whole sales process – from what you need to do before you approach a potential financier to how to close the deal. It explained how to manage your financier through the project and even increase your chances of repeat business. Host: Melissa Norman, Director, Media Sauce Alright, so your first thought when going to a workshop about pitching and the sales process might be about the sleazy, insincere salesman or saleswoman with the never-ending handshake that you’re bound to become if you start taking any of the forthcoming advice seriously. But pitching and sales is, thankfully, not that — and not as painful as you might think either. According to Melissa Norman, pitching is just one part of a collaborative sales process of finding out and understanding the needs of your potential customers and then addressing how what you have can meet those needs. The overall aim is to sell your work to people who really, sincerely want and need it — and that’s not a bad deal at all, is it? Mel put the oft-discussed topic of ‘pitching’ in context by sharing a framework that shows the rest of the sales cycle. It includes: Pre-approach Approach Finding a Need Pitch Battling Objections Getting the Deal Solidifying the Sale/Referrals By understanding where pitching fits into the cycle and by breaking down the additional steps involved, pitching itself becomes much easier, more natural and (frankly) less scary. It also frees you to concentrate on the more important aspects of knowing how to approach a ‘cold’ client sensibly and respectfully as well as how to ‘uncover their need’, so that you can work out how you might fill it. To help approach a client cold, Mel shared numerous tips for engaging in phone calls and face-to-face meetings: mention three names right off the bat (yours, theirs and who, if anybody, referred you), and then: ask if this is a good time to chat! (If not, propose an alternative to them). Do NOT pitch on the phone, just introduce yourself and find out if they’d be interested in meeting. Next came the importance of uncovering the client’s need: by asking good questions (“The wise person does not give the right answers, they pose the right questions.” — Claude Levis-Strauss) and by practicing active listening (reinforcing and building questions off what they say, being mindful also to match the tone and pace of the conversations and watching out for those verbal and non-verbal cues). Differentiate between what a client says they want and what they might really need — one’s emotional, one’s rational. One’s based on fact and the other is grounded in perception. In summary, the sales process goes beyond pitching. It’s about creating an emotional involvement with a client and then providing them with a solution. No sleazy salesman-like pitches necessary…now what could be better than that?