By John Kageche
“My name is Mtu Mwingine from Kampuni Nyingine Manufacturers. As you know we are the only ones who make low-cost, robust quality refurbished TVs? We at KNM deal in used TVs sourced from all over East Africa and after we refurbish them, you wouldn't be able to tell them from a brand new one by the way they look and work! We deal in all major brands. Buy this one!”
And the prospect would buy, if not then, later; but buy he would. He didn’t have an option. The sales person was king; he knew it, he felt it and he smelt it. Such was the sales pitch then; a half minute speech by the sales person based on one assumption: we know and have what the market needs and the market must buy from us.
The sales pitch also known as the elevator pitch has come a long way since absolute monopolies ruled the world. That was when Yellow Pages was the only advertising outlet, the Bank Manager was a demi-god and Elliot’s was the only bread on sale! At that time the pitch like the one above was perfect for the sales person; after all, the client had only two options-my product or my product.
Since then, institutions have evolved to respond to market needs, players within the industry have increased dramatically and customers have become so much wiser. And then the internet totally transformed how selling is done in this century.
Overnight, it would seem, institutions realized they never had sales people but order takers and renewal agents. The order taker did just that: he took the order from the client, say space on the defunct VoK, and submitted it to the office. Then waited for the client to call again and repeat the process. The renewal agent was no better-he waited to be called by the client on the renewal date of say car insurance, and he happily ran, not out of a sense of duty, but purely because commissions would follow. Both the order takers and renewal agents were not pro-active and for them business was one thing and one thing alone: a transaction.
Relationships were unnecessary and a total waste of time. With this knowledge institutions acted. For instance, depending on the product, just by putting the price and distribution outlet online meant they didn’t need the order taker. Others chose to train their sales staff and most found that they needed to overhaul more than the sales culture; they needed to overhaul the institution’s culture.
Companies evolved but the order taker didn’t! And so the order taker wondered what was happening. Why were customers not falling over themselves for him? Why were his sales rapidly declining? What’s wrong with these customers? Wrong questions. What’s wrong with you would be the right question. And the answer to that is simple-in a fast moving world you have remained stationary and therefore regressed.
The sales pitch of the past has no place in today’s market place. Ask any order taker. Today, the sales person must evolve to meet the dynamic prospect. He may have a sales pitch yes, but purely to define his business and not to make a sale. Today’s pitch is meant solely to yield sufficient interest in the prospect to want to know more, thereby willingly opening up the prospect to a conversation, not a direct sale.
The sales person today must adjust to suit the prospect’s ever changing needs and wants. The sales person must also move from being transactional to being relational.
John Kageche - Lend Me Your Ears for: Dynamic Selling (Beyond the Sales Cycle) and Speak for Yourself! (Message Development, Speech Writing, Speaker Training and Coaching)