How a Sales Pitch Works – It’s a ‘Conversation’ (336/365)

Here it is, the promised sales series – in case you didn’t know I used to do door to door sales, and I not only did that unforgivable job for a year, but I also spent a lot of that time teaching people how to sell on your doorstep. Now I’m not going to pretend I was an amazing teacher as it’s a skill that took me ages to learn, as people learn in different ways and some need more encouragement than others. So let’s start with the basics, how a pitch even works.

Well they don’t actually see the pitch as a pitch, they see it as a conversation. A well structured conversation designed to close you, whether you’re aware of it or not. The reason it’s a conversation is that no one likes to be sold things, we’re just an anti social society who hates people in suits telling us what we need – and honestly after being in sales I completely understand it.

So the conversation is split into 5 easy steps:

  • Introduction
  • Short story
  • Presentation
  • Close
  • Consolidation

The introduction is a fairly easy step to begin with, although to master it takes a while. It’s where the first impression is built and honestly the first 3-5 seconds are arguably the most important. People are fickle and in most cases they won’t know anything about you, so you have to at least make them like you, because they’ll trust someone they like, over someone annoying and it’s all about building trust.

So that’s why sales people make a lot of jokes to begin with or say a comment to throw you off your scent of hostility, it’s to build a good first impression that allows them to be in control.

It’s also where they’ll actually say what they’re there form they need to answer the burning question of who they are and what they’re actually here to get you to sign up to.

The short story is where we start to answer the ‘what’ of the conversation, where they’ll start to elaborate but not spend ages talking about their importance. I personally pitched about charities so I’d break down who the charity helps and relate it back to the potential customer, if the charity involved deaf children, I’d find out if they knew anyone deaf or hard of hearing. Find out what support they get and hook them in as they aren’t removed from the issue anymore.

The presentation is also a part of this, as the what/where are closely linked, it’s also important that this doesn’t last forever. That’s why pitches tend to all be the same and go on for the same amount of time, which shouldn’t be longer than a minute and a half to be honest.

The close is a really important bit, and honestly you’re going to want to close someone after all of this. Even if they’re starting to lose impulse, you can always bring it back through explaining how it works but not in a way that’s intimidating. If they need to sign up to a charity it’s important to emphasise that it won’t start immediately but in 2 months down the line, if they already do charities ask them which ones and give a random name of a neighbour who also signs up to these charities and they also agreed to sign up today.

The close is really where the sales person comes out, even though it’s still a conversation, it’s when you really have free reign to lie about a lot. If they’re worried about cost, say it’s in the future and only works out to 20p a day, people hate math and they’ll probably want to do it, especially if you compare it to the price of a freddo, or make jokes about how freddos are expensive. Once you’re joking they’re sucked in.

The consolidation is the last step and funnily enough it happens after card details have been exchanged – it’s the step where you thank them.. well it’s when you also incorporate a guilt trip by reminding them about the children they’re helping, or animals, or anything charity related – I’m not sure how this works if you’re selling windows or anything physical. The consolidation exists for the ‘feel good factor’, the last thing you’d want is for someone to feel regret once you’ve left them to their own devices, because they’ll cancel the sale. So consolidation exists so that they’ll feel good and happy about your encounter and will happily continue the direct debit.

The emphasis on conversation is because that’s the scam of it all, it actually sounds like a conversation, but it’s all planned. Every joke, every statement every time they play with your pets – it’s all fake.

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