A Good Pitch Starts with a Question

We’ve all experienced that unfortunate moment when a telemarketer gets past our secretarial and caller ID defenses and launches into their monologue. This is the worst kind of sales experience, both for the caller and the prospect, because it’s missing two key ingredients:

  1. Relationship
  2. Context

Anyone who has learned how to develop business in a B2B context knows the value of building a relationship, which is why they invest a significant amount of time getting to know their prospect. They emphasize casual conversation, rapport-building, and commonalities. They defer their self-interest until they have earned the right to talk about potential business opportunities. This is a sharp contrast to the telemarketer, who has neither the time nor the forum to do anything more than launch into their script and hope they don’t get hung up on.

But context can be a challenge even for experienced business developers. Regardless of your relationship with the prospect, your pitch will be unwelcome if it isn’t calibrated to their needs. The best pitches don’t sound like pitches at all. They sound like conversations between two people who are well-suited to help one another. The only way to experience that is to ask questions, understand the prospect’s context, and seek to address their specific problems.

So the next time you are compelled to entice your prospect with the capabilities of your firm, try asking a few questions instead. Find out what they are looking for so you can connect the dots more effectively. Don’t be the salesperson whose sole agenda is to close another account. Be the friend and advisor who seeks to help the prospect find the right solution, even if it isn’t you. It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s the best way to honor your relationship with them, earn their trust, and when the time is right, secure their long-term loyalty as a client.

Authored by David Ackert

2 thoughts on “A Good Pitch Starts with a Question

  • It’s funny, David, but that is precisely the conversation that is taking place amongst Mediators right now on a List-serve to which I subscribe. Before you can “sell” or “persuade” the parties to accept a settlement, you absolutely must develop a relationship with the client and put into context what the settlement means to them.

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