Fever Pitch – how to improve your success rate in selling conversations - The IFT

Fever Pitch – how to improve your success rate in selling conversations

Are you struggling with your success rate in selling conversations? Read on to find out about ‘Fever Pitch’ – a simple sales conversation process developed by Richard Farr, Managing Director at Cardano Advisory, focussing on the soft skills required to improve your conversion rate to circa 75%…

If you type in ‘improving pitch conversion rate’ into Google, you’ll be met with a seemingly endless stream of advice, techniques, and counselling. Although designed with the best of intentions in mind, there is a risk wading through it could have a counterproductive, confusing effect, and the material is often left on the bookshelf or folder and never referred to again.

What’s worse, you’ll lose sight of what’s important. Selling isn’t all about selling.

It’s about a state of mind. It’s about being yourself in twenty minutes.

Timing Is Everything

Why twenty minutes?

In a selling conversation scenario, you’ll be given the benefit of the doubt for the first few minutes but ultimately, you only have a certain window of (often polite) interest or opportunity to connect.

The audience that you will need to impress will be on a spectrum – ranging from the detail-orientated guru in their field who looks at their shoes more than yours, all the way through to those who use gut feel to make choices and to hell with the detail.

But, of course, where are you on the Spectrum also?

You must use a combination of effective timing and emotional intelligence to establish a personal connection with a view to ascertaining where your client sits on this Spectrum. The sooner you’ve found it, and connected, the sooner you can show who you really are.

Your audience will then be indifferent to your style, and you can be yourself. But you have only twenty minutes to do it.

The DNA Helix

Proceeding with an effective DNA helix is critical to keep your client engaged as you seek to connect and then build to the crescendo of your “pitch”. So, what is the DNA Helix?

  • Title: What does the title slide say? This slide will often get left on a desk or waiting on the screen, as you engage in pleasantries or typical Teams /Zoom chat (“what is that on your wall?”). As such, it is the slide that gets the most airtime – so invest time in its conception. It is an opportunity to reflect the key part of your passion to keep the client intrigued. Never use “Introduction to…”!
  • CV: This isn’t just to tell the client who you are. You can use your CV as a hook to get your client to tell you who they are, and to get them talking about themselves. This is a good opportunity to get onto the Indifference Curve.
  • Agenda: Pressure, politics and timing issues all impact the sales conversation and as such, impact the agenda. It’s vital to re-affirm the agenda and ensure it’s still correct as their situation evolves (not least in a competitive pitch process).
  • Key Messages: Tell your client why you’re there (“I’m going to tell that/why/who…”). Watch for any reaction – blank/surprise/indifference/alertness.
  • Background & Issues: Offering your experience is a great way to ensure you and your client are still on the same page in identifying the issues – get them to at least nod their heads in empathy.
  • Offer Free Advice: You’re not the only person in town pitching to the client. If your client hasn’t heard your advice before, you can zero in on this. If they have, at least you’ve confirmed the opposition is as good as you. (“Everyone will/should have told you this, and we are no exception…”

At every point in the conversation think about how you can use each component of the DNA helix to get your client talking. Once you get them talking, you’ve connected personally and you’re on your way to a successful conversion.

The Killer Slide

Having effectively delivered each component of the helix, you’re now ready to build to the crescendo of your conversation, and the most crucial and excitable slide.  If you can’t finally get a reaction here, then you’ve failed. After all, if you can’t get excited about your killer points, why should they?

This slide can even be one killer point that differentiates you – why would the client employ you compared to your competition? Ideally 3 or 4 killer points to allow flexibility in reaction.

Once you’ve delivered the killer slide you must re-affirm the key messages. Throughout the DNA helix, you’ve been building to re-delivery of these key messages – so now be passionate about why you’re there.

Then you must look for the reaction. You have now shot your bolt so even if it’s a negative reaction, you can ask the client why what you’ve said won’t help them arrive at their solution and have a last-ditch rescue conversation in those last few minutes (even as you walk to the door).

Think: you may have missed the (evolving) brief and you have one last chance to sell (again!).

So, what are the 10 Commandments of Fever Pitch?

Before you go into any sales conversation, keep in mind the 10 commandments that underpin Fever Pitch:

  1. They are only killer points if you understand the client issues (How well do you know them?)
  2. If you do nothing else, plan (and confirm the agenda). Try and expand the agenda to match your killer points
  3. You were given two ears and a mouth for a reason – get them talking as soon as possible.
  4. Pick the winning team (who will play the leader, sector expert, and (even) project manager) and make sure each has a speaking part
  5. If you can’t find their pain, no gain – keep looking and re-affirming.
  6. Know thy enemies – once, twice, thrice be warned. There are 3 ways to lose a sell – to a competitor, the client doing nothing or a client doing it themselves. Does your pitch cover all scenarios?
  7. Everybody likes a good experience story – you must litter the sales conversation with real life examples of you doing your job.
  8. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse – the more for the bigger opportunities.
  9. Take forward next steps like you mean it – Asking the client what needs to happen before the relationship begins is key. Watch out for acceptance or reluctance – if you sense reluctance, push for why this is the case – what else have you got to lose?
  10. Independent feedback is the only way to learn and improve. Make sure you ask the right questions!

Next Steps?

So, go out and fail! But get feedback as to why and go again, and again…

Channel your inner Malcolm Gladwell, after all there are 10,000 reasons…

 

Richard E Farr

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