Some companies sit in a conference room and “ideate” on the perfect value proposition. They come up with doozies about “marketing spend optimization”, “multi-channel reach” and “cross-platform sales engagement,” as if they were trying to make sure no understands what the hell they do.
Instead of stringing together buzzwords on a whiteboard, make 10 cold calls and send 10 cold emails per week – especially if you’re a CEO. Your pitching skills will get 10 times better, and you will learn things about your customers and your company that you would never discover otherwise. Maybe one out of 10 cold calls results in a deal, and that’s fine. The real art of cold calling is discovering how your company can become indispensable.
Using real-life examples, I’m going to show you the difference between a good pitch and bad pitch so you can start cold calling and get invaluable feedback now.
The Good Pitch Formula
In two sentences, can you tell me who you are and what value you can offer my company? Can you do this on a phone call or in an email? If not, we have work to do.
Let’s start with a distinction: there is a difference between what you do as a company and the value you offer to the consumer. EVENTup, the company I currently run, is a “two-way events marketplace”, but that does not belong in a pitch. That’s the what. Depending on whether I call an event planner or venue owner, here are two different values I can offer:
- Event planner – We do the research and hard work for you. You tell us what you are looking for, starting with the venue, and we will send you links to great matches.
- Venue owner – We can get you visibility, drive consumers to your venue and help you make more money.
Did I leave out details? Of course – pitches should be minimalist. Yet out of habit or doubt, a lot sellers add the junk I’m going to talk about next.
The Bad Pitch Folder
Most sellers can’t explain what they offer in an engaging way. I know this because I get cold calls and cold emails all the time. The most cringe-worthy emails go into a folder titled “Bad Pitches” so I can share them with my sales team and tell you about them.
In a pitch, one of the worst (and most common) mistakes is to imply that you will waste the potential customer’s time. Here’s an example:
- “Hi Jayna, My name is ____ and I apologize in advance if my message is not relevant for you, however I would appreciate if you could take a quick glance at it.”
Pre-apologies tell customer that your service is notvaluable. If you’re afraid of being annoying, you will be annoying. Billboards don’t apologize, and neither should you.
Another common mistake is to knowingly contact the wrong person:
- “Hi Jayna, I’m sorry to bother you but could you introduce me to the person who leads your web and brand strategy?”
Nope, have you heard of LinkedIn? At least act like I am the right person.
Finally, a third common mistake is to be longwinded. Do the two-sentence pitch, and then get the prospect talking. If I’m speaking with the event planner at a small company, I’ll ask: are you working on any events right now? How many events do you do each month? How do you normally find venues? The conversation is about their needs and how you can help them.
If you cold email, ask for 5 minutes on the phone and include links to something useful. For event planners, I send links to three local venues that could be good options for their holiday party, summer bash or whatever is seasonal.
You never know what ideas will spring from cold calls and emails. Look for common objections and themes. They will tell you what to change in your pitch, or what to change in your product.
Instead of coming up with excuses for not cold calling, just do it. Get on your CRM or LinkedIn right now. Pick a prospect. Get on the phone. Thank me later.
Follow me on the Forbes blog here.