How To Shut Your Way Up To Sales Success

zip itBack around 2007, I remember being thoroughly underwhelmed by the CEO of a multinational company our startup competed with. Our companies were summoned by a client in a joint meeting to compete for a bid.

I distinctly remember telling Pao: “The guy didn’t say anything and just wrote down notes. He was so unimpressive.”

Little did I know that not saying anything and taking down notes were quite strategic in one on one sales, so much so in B2B sales. Stubborn that I was, it took me a year or two to incorporate the same strategies in my own sales meetings.

Back then, whenever we did sales pitches, people would always react at how young we were – and this always felt like a hurdle in the selling process. (as the years went by, losing hair and gaining pounds remedied this – ah, the perks of baldness!) This, plus our being rookies in the industry, made me feel a gap in credibility.

So in the back of my mind, whenever I’d go to pitches, I thought – “I have to prove to this person how capable I am.”

So my pitches early on became exercises in hearing all about how great we and our products were.

One BIG problem: clients don’t care about how great you are. They only care about how you can help them out.

I remember seeing this in their faces before: they WANT to say something but I was so busy wanting to blurt out my “piece” that sometimes I didn’t let them get a chance to.

HUGE mistake.

The whole pitch has to be about the client. How can the product help them out? What’s in it for them? It only becomes a great product if they can see how it helps THEM to be great.

Listening and writing down notes are great visual indicators that the client’s needs are precisely what you are prioritizing. I’m not talking about putting on a show though – you really have to listen. Authenticity is pretty easy to sniff out. The client’s needs HAS to be first.

A client who is excited, talking, and feeling good about herself and her company is a much more likely sale than the one who is repressing herself to listen to someone saying how great they are.

Putting themselves first is a great temptation especially for new entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs precisely because they have a lot of confidence in themselves. They also usually have a chip on their shoulder – a great need to prove something to the world. Inviting them to talk about their passions could easily turn into a couple of hours of monologue.

Overall, this is a good thing. Entrepreneurs need this to go through the roughest cycles of the job.

Just remember to rein it in sales meetings: just give a concise, well-thought pitch…

And then shut the hey up.

Comments

  1. Very true bro. I find that this tip also helps me with my wife ;)

  2. Nice tip, Peter. It’s similar to an important lesson they taught us in one of the coaching workshops… to be comfortable with silence. But yeah, like you said, it’s realllllllly difficult especially when you are used to an environment where people are always “screaming” for attention.

    • That “comfy with silence” thing has a lot of applications bro. Its very useful for interviews as well – when silences come, you let the interviewee fill it. the results are replies that are less canned, more genuine…

  3. “Back then, whenever we did sales pitches, people would always react at how young we were – and this always felt like a hurdle in the selling process. (as the years went by, losing hair and gaining pounds remedied this – ah, the perks of baldness!) This, plus our being rookies in the industry, made me feel a gap in credibility.”

    Got the same problem before every time I met with a client. I gained some pounds then it got better. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • or maybe bro, we’re just justifying the weight gain, hahahaha :)

      I do think this is a challenge young entreps face, particularly in b2b, where you get to sell to a lot of senior managers.

  4. Wow great tip! Just in time for an upcoming first sales pitch. Thanks Sir Peter! It makes sense, though. If I am the client, I would appreciate more if I see that a prospect supplier cares big time about what i want and need. It might be helpful also to ask, so we’ll know the clients’ needs in depth. I’m sure they’ll appreciate to know we truly care about them. With lotsa LOVE kumbaga ;)

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