This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
When I launched Skype this morning, I had an invitation to connect waiting for me. It’s not unusual for people who read the blog to reach out and connect with me on Skype, so I accepted the invitation.
The person who asked me to connect immediately popped up to say good morning and ask me when I had time to talk. I was just starting a meeting with a client in South Africa, so I told him I would be busy for the next hour. When that teleconference was over, I said “hello” to the connection and asked how I could help him.
My new connection said “hello.” Then he asked me how I was doing. Then he told me where he lived. And then he launched into a pitch about his company. He told me about the services that they provide, how many years they’ve been in business, and how many people they have in their company. And then he asked me if I had any projects that he could work on.
I never begrudge an individual trying to sell. It’s tough, and you have to hustle. But you also have to be smart. The salesperson got a lot of things wrong.
First, Skype isn’t the right place to pitch someone over the instant message feature.
Second, he didn’t really want to pitch me, even though he didn’t know that. What he really wanted was an opportunity to have a conversation with me about whether or not he could create value for me at all.
And third, and probably his greatest offense, he pitched me too soon. The service that he sells isn’t the transactional sale. It’s a relationship sale. It matters that he knows who I am, what my goals are, what I value and how he might align what he does with those things.
He skipped over all of that and went straight to the pitch. He pitched me way too soon.
Because he pitched me too soon, he eliminated any opportunity of working together. There was simply no way for me to take him seriously popping up on Skype and pitching me rather than pursuing a professional process.
What is the right medium to pitch?
What do you need to do before you can pitch what you sell? What do you need to know? What do you need the buyer to feel?
How do you know it’s the right time to pitch?
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