You’ve probably come across the ancient sales adage “resist the itch to pitch”, and you’ve most likely felt and gave into this irresistible urge yourself one too many times already. It turns out, there’s sound reason behind the rhyme. Sadly, though, this point gets lost on many sales and marketing folks, inevitably leading to an all-too-familiar outcome: prospects losing interest and going cold.
If someone submits a form on your site, becomes your blog subscriber, downloads your whitepaper, or happens to be a valid entry on a list, do you jump out at that potential prospect with your sales pitch right away?
Of course not. But that’s what most B2B marketers seem to be doing, and here’s why you have to set yourself apart and always start with a thorough understanding of your prospects’ situation before anything else.
#1: Putting yourself in your prospects’ shoes is bad advice
It’s going to take a long and careful process to get leads to that point where they’ll be interested in hearing about your pitch, and the first few steps will involve becoming really familiar with your prospect’s needs and pain points.
Pitching too early means that you probably haven’t done your homework thoroughly enough (and are just relying mostly on guesswork). There’s far too much nuance involved in creating a sales pitch that putting yourself in your prospects’ shoes simply won’t cut it. You have to ask questions first.
#2: You can’t (and shouldn’t) connect the dots with just a single touch point.
It goes without saying that not all leads are created equal. Only some small portion of your new leads (about 15% by some estimates) will actually be ready to face your sales team. Clearly, this means that you’ll be putting off the vast majority of prospects that enter your pipeline by throwing your sales pitch at every new contact you come across with.
It takes two separate points to draw a line and, to paint a fuller picture of your lead, you’re going to need a series of connected touch points, with each one designed to incrementally sharpen your prospect’s profile. This will help you craft a more compelling sales pitch later on and help you decide whether a prospect is qualified enough to hear it.
#3: Taking time to qualify early speeds things up later.
The quality of the leads you work with at the early stages of the sales process is an important factor in determining how long it’s going to take leads to become buyers.
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If you’re able to slow things down and thoroughly identify prospects that really have an urgent need, then the time-to-decision is going to be much shorter. Also, by taking this approach, you’re able to reduce the time spent on prospects who’ll never become your customers. This helps you put resources where and when they’re needed the most.
In other words, rushing things and pitching to new prospects right away will actually make the sales process longer than it should be.
#4: Pain doesn’t always equal an urgent need.
Your target buyer’s pain points can be your most important resource–that is, if you can figure them out and have the solution they really need. But sometimes, pain points don’t often make up an urgent need. Urgent needs are what turn your prospects into buyers, so you have to gauge whether the issue your leads face is severe enough to require an urgent solution.
Once again, this means that you have to set your sales pitch aside and focus on knowing what your prospect is really going through. You need to ask probing questions that uncover specific issues in front of your leads and find out whether these make up a real business need or not.
There’s always a right time for delivering your sales pitch, and the early stage of the sales process (when you still have very little idea about your prospect’s situation) is clearly not when this should happen. That’s the time for asking questions, diagnosing pain points, and matching your solution with your prospects’ needs.
Proceed if and only if all these have been checked off. Otherwise, just ditch that pitch.
Ralph is a content writer at Callbox. He closely follows developments in B2B marketing and occasionally looks back on interesting business stories. He enjoys reading, playing the guitar, and spending time with his pet cat.