When I began my business, I didn’t have much experience in the sales department — but I had more than I gave myself credit for. If you had asked me about my sales experience in late 2012 (just months before starting out on my own), I would have told you I didn’t really have experience in sales.
Looking back now, that isn’t exactly accurate. As a Marketing Director for Chick-fil-A in 2010 – 2011, I was responsible for outside sales, in-store sales and catering sales. Prior to that, I worked for Citizens Bank as an in-store banker, where I had opportunities to gain commission based on new accounts opened and lines of credit given.
I think I didn’t factor those experiences into the business development equation at first because each role was classified as marketing or customer service — not sales. These were also roles that had commission potential but were not completely dependent upon commission.
There’s a big difference and the latter is a lot more intimidating.
Moving from PR to Sales
So, when preparing to make the choice to start and build a business from the ground up, with no set salary or promise of stability (other than my husband’s salary and — thankfully — his health insurance), I simply considered one thing: my ability to pitch.
It’s no secret I love working with media. If you know me even on a Twitter level, you know this fact. I’m very good at crafting a pitch that is persuasive, news-worthy and prompts action to gain the results needed for a given client. This skill has allowed me to work with big players in the media and get over feelings of intimidation or unease when it comes to sending a big pitch.
I was assured that if I could pitch the top influencers in media — I could pitch for new business.
Keys to Crafting a Response-Worthy Sales Pitch
Whether you have been in sales for some time or you are just beginning to craft sales pitches, here are some key considerations I use to bring in new business.
My success rate is high as far as I can tell. Right now 9 out of 10 of my pitches get replies and more than half of my pitches result in a new business meeting.
1. Define your target customer as clearly as possible.
This looks like a business profile. What are annual revenues? Does the product or service align with our values?
2. Highly research your potential lead before making your pitch.
Is the lead in line with your defined target audience? Who is the best contact? Do you have a connection through a friend to help keep you from sending a completely cold pitch?
3. Make your pitch stand out.
Get creative. Most likely the person you’re about to pitch receives similar pitches so consider what would make yours stand out. Consider sending a video intro, addressing a pain point or point of differentiation early on in your pitch. What would really communicate your love for the brand or desire to work with the given company?
4. Keep it short and to the point.
This isn’t an essay or even a letter. Get to the point and establish credibility right away. Why are you contacting them? What’s in it for them? What problem are you offering to solve? Why should they go with you?
5. Silence or “No” does not *necessarily* mean you aren’t going to win that business.
Silence does not mean no. Often, NO doesn’t even mean no. If you get a reply that indicates they are not interested at this time, press in politely and find out when would be a better time to check back with them. They already have a service provider? OK. Let them know you can beat any results they are currently receiving and with shorter lead times. Of course, that has to be the truth but my point is that you may be closer to a YES than you think … it just may take a little more creativity.
I’d love to hear your tried and true sales tips if you’d care to share. I’m still learning and love sharing resources. Enjoy today and I hope these tips help you delve even deeper into sales success.