Sales Tips for the Reluctant Salesperson
The Precise Pitch
Editor’s Note: Who says vendors are the only guys selling stuff? The fact is, JHC readers are in sales too. You may not work for a medical products company, but you have plenty of customers – administrators, all the people who use the products for which you contract, and the vendors with whom you negotiate and implement contracts. Your neck – and your credibility – is on the line every day. Sales coach Brian Sullivan spends most of his time working with salespeople and sales executives from medical products manufacturers and distributors. But he’s got something to say to contracting professionals as well.
“So, why is your company better than your competition?” was the question I asked recently at an executive seminar. The sharply dressed VP of sales to whom I was speaking paused and looked at me like I just asked him for the PIN to his bank card. It was obvious that he was unprepared to answer the question quickly, precisely and enthusiastically. After verbally circling the parking lot a few times, he eventually told me that his company has “real good customer service.” Once he eventually got to the end of his ramble, he looked at me in victory as if he had just solved the Da Vinci Code. I rarely had seen so many words say so little.
I then wondered if this inability to succinctly deliver a 30-second “elevator pitch” was prevalent among other executives and salespeople at the conference. Interestingly, and perhaps sadly, it was.
If you too are afflicted with the inability to get people fired up quickly about the benefits of your department’s services, I have the cure. It is called the PRECISE Pitch. A PRECISE Pitch is a 20- to 45-second presentation that will describe what your department does and the amazing benefits it provides customers. It is the response that should be delivered when somebody asks, “Who are you and what makes you so good?”
A PRECISE Pitch needs to create curiosity and leave the listener longing for more. So how do you create a high-powered PRECISE Pitch?
No. 1: Recognize a problem that your department solves
For example, if your department helped negotiate a contract with a company that sells electronic medical records software, and the real benefit to using the software is that it can save lives, you might start the first part of your pitch like this: “A recent study found that between 44,000 and 98,000 deaths may result each year from medical errors in hospitals alone.”
No. 2: Tell them what your department does
This should be no more than a couple of sentences.
No. 3: What’s the WOW!?
Any PRECISE Pitch needs to invite a positive reaction and some curiosity. When the listener’s eyebrows go up, their heads lean forward and their throats deliver a “Hmm,” you know you have a good pitch. To get that reaction, you need to explain what the key benefits to your solution are.
So let’s put the three together to complete the PRECISE Pitch. (By the way, I just timed myself and it took 28 seconds to deliver).
“A recent study found that between 44,000 and 98,000 deaths may result each year from medical errors in hospitals alone. Sullivan Inc. created an EMR platform that allows health systems to accurately manage records from the moment a patient steps into their family practice office until the moment they leave the hospital. By accurately recording, monitoring and storing these records, we believe this system can save lives right here.”
Now I can assure you that if I had heard something like this in the halls of that executive session, I would have been curious. I would have wanted to learn more, which means the pitch would have done exactly what it was supposed to do.
It’s now time for a little old school exercise. If you don’t have a pitch that contains the three ingredients, you need to grab a pen and paper and get to work. When you are done crafting yours, try it out on your wife, husband, friends or dog. If they yawn, look at their watch or start scratching themselves, chances are you need to put a little more punch into it. The best way to add “meat” and curiosity to your pitch is with numbers and percentages. Soft, fluffy business clichés only put the listener to sleep and won’t get you an invitation to tell more of your story.
Don’t forget to practice that pitch so that it rolls off your tongue like a combination of Edgar Allen Poe and Martin Luther King … with eloquence and passion. By being PRECISE, you may be surprised when at the next conference or meeting, you have a lot more people wanting to hear more details about the great company with whom you’re pursuing a contract.