I received an email from a good friend, and she asked me a question that I’d like to share with you; She asked me what I thought of the word “pitch.” She explained to me that she works with a salesperson who enjoys using the word “pitch” to describe his daily sales activities. He loves using the word, and he just LOVES going in to see a client and pitching away! Not being one to shy away from an opportunity to provide an opinion, I spoke up: “I hate it.” I can hear my mother saying; “Hate is such a strong word. Can’t you come up with something else instead?” So, I’ll respect my mother and say it this way: “I’m offended by it.”
Let’s do a little test. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word, “pitch?” I have a feeling that you aren’t thinking “ask questions” or “listen.” Let’s consult Webster’s Dictionary and make sure we have the correct definition of pitch. Webster’s defines “pitch” as “a high pressure sales talk.” Ouch.
Imagine setting up a meeting with a client and telling them; “For the record, I intend to have a high pressure sales talk with you!” Sounds like a surefire way to turn off a client. I suppose you could just surprise them with your “pitch,” but I think you get the point here. If you have no intention of doing a “sales pitch,” and it’s offensive to anyone you speak with, why in the world would any sane person keep using the word?
I suppose the word “pitch” has its place on QVC or a good infomercial. The late Billy Mays was one of the best pitchmen who ever lived. I never got the sense that sitting with Billy would provide a whole lot of banter back and forth, nor did I see him as a champion consultant, but that guy could pitch! In fact, he was the perfect pitchman. He could out talk, out shout, and out last anyone who stepped up to his booth. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend any sound minded sales person to step into a client’s office and shout, “HI, ROB JOLLES HERE FOR ANYBODY’S PRODUCT, AND DO I HAVE A SOLUTION FOR YOU!!!”
The ironic thing is that true selling – in its purest form – could not be further from the concept of a “pitch.” In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Instead of talking, it involves listening. Instead of the obsession with finding a solution, it involves studying a client’s potential problems. Instead of pushing a “one idea fits all” scheme, it involves shaping the solution to fit the client’s specific needs.
Would you like to know why sales people get a bad name? It’s because clients are afraid that they are going to have to talk on the phone with, or sit face-to-face with some knucklehead who wants to “pitch” something to them.
When I conduct two-day workshops that teach people how to sell, I teach various topics such as opening tactics, closing tactics, objection-handling tactics, ways to create trust, ways to create urgency, and more. Over those sixteen hours of teaching, guess how much time I spend on the actual solution, or the “pitch?” I spend about ten minutes, and I think that I’m probably giving it too much time at that. When you have worked hard, and you’ve done all of the real work that skilled sales people are supposed to do, shouldn’t the solution be the easiest part of the conversation?
Many years ago, when the Fuller Brush salesman, or the vacuum salesman, or the litany of other door-to-door salesman roamed the earth, the well-rehearsed sales pitch must have been the way to get a foot in the door. But we’ve moved beyond those days, and beyond those tactics. So I’ll finish this week’s BLArticle™ with a “pitch” of my own…
Step right up, make a commitment, and join the millions who have said, “no” to the word “pitch!” Eliminate that word from your vocabulary and spare yourself the embarrassment that comes with informing your clients you have little to no interest in their actual needs! That’s right, ridding yourself of this silly word will demonstrate a true understanding of what your real role is with your clients in the first place! Do it today, and I’ll even throw in a spiral slicer… but you must act now!