The Inbound Growth Blog

The Inbound Growth Blog covers all topics relating to an integrated marketing strategy. We write about inbound marketing, social media, integrated marketing strategies and the sales process.

For Revenue Generation In Today's Buying Process, Don't Pitch, Listen!

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Posted by John Beveridge on Jul 22, 2013 7:07:00 AM

Revenue Generation, Don%27t Pitch, ListenIf I were giving advice to an entrepreneur on the best way to grow her business, I would recommend that she work on her listening skills before worrying about her sales pitch. Too many business people think that sales is about talking or "pitching." It's not: the most successful salespeople do far more listening than talking.

In the article excerpted below, the author says, "What may work for some buyers might not be right for others." Which is precisely why you shouldn't focus on your pitch! By focusing on the pitch, you're limiting your opportunities to sell on the small percentage of people who may find that your pitch answers the questions they have. Before you ever pitch, you need to ask lots of questions about what your prospect is trying to accomplish, what's helping and hindering them from reaching their goals and how their internal buying process works.

Should You Be Pitching In the First Place?

We've discussed the modern buying process in this blog before. Google's Zero Moment of Truth study shows that people consume much more pre-purchase information than they just two years ago! The Corporate Executive Board's New Decision Timeline found that buyers complete 57% of their pre-purchase research before ever talking to a salesperson. In fact, the CEB's headline for the study is, "Sell How Your Customers Want To Buy." I couldn't agree more! And guess what, the research cited above shows that modern buyers don't want to be pitched.

In my business, I've made a conscious decision not to respond to RFPs. RFP stands for Request for Proposal, but it might as well stand for Request for Pitch. If buyers are completing 57% of their pre-purchase research before reaching out to potential vendors, what is the purpose of an RFP? In the old days, like 2002, an RFP was a means for buyers to learn about the specifications, benefits and features of a potential purchase option. In 2013, you can find all of that information online. So again, what is the purpose of an RFP? Here are some reasons why a buyer would submit an RFP:

  • They've already identified a few potential solutions, but are required by corprorate governance to have a minimum number of proposales before making a purchase.

  • Even if there's not a requirement for a minimum number of proposals, corporate buyers seek proposals for CYA purposes.

The only way I would respond to an RFP would be if I was one of the people already talking to the buyer and knew that the RFP was to satisfy internal purchasing requirements. In other words, if I didn't have an "in", I wouldn't waste my time. When you're offered an opportunity to "pitch", ask yourself, "What are my real chances for winning this competition." Most entrepreneurs and SMB companies have limited sales resources and time. You should focus your limited resources on those opportunities where you have a high probability of winning. 

Download Closing the Loop: The Ultimate Guide to Integrating Inbound Marketing Into Your Sales Process

Use the 80/20 Rule In Your Sales Process

In this case, the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule) states that you should listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time. Most of your talking time should be spent asking questions. Listen carefully to the answers, confirm that you understood the response correctly and dig deeper. In many sales situations, you will be required to make a "pitch" in the form of a finalist presentation. Don't make your pitch until you understand the wants, needs and personal motivations of everyone involved in the decision. If you haven't done this, your chances of winning are slim and none, and you know who just left town. If you're pitching on the front end, you're wasting your time.


While it may be tempting to respond to a request to "pitch", it's a low-probability approach to selling yourself or your products/services. You should focus your revenue generation strategy on two key principles:

  • Develop an effective inbound marketing channel so that interested buyers find you when they are conducting pre-purchase research.

  • Focus your revenue generation process on high percentage opportunities. Leverage your customers and professional networks for referrals. Be helpful when you do get an opportunity, don't pitch!

From the Salesforce Blog: Two entrepreneurs sell the Cell Helmet on Shark Tank

Developing a sales pitch is both complex and time consuming. What may work for some buyers might not be right for others. Time is money and whether you're selling a product, service, or a full solution, you need to captivate your audience immediately.

Nowhere is this more evident than on ABC's Shark Tank , a reality series that finds entrepreneurs attempting to sell their big idea to a panel of successful investors.

The program is a textbook example of making a successful first impression by being properly prepared to nail your big pitch.

Here are five tips for perfecting your sales pitch from the sharks of Shark Tank:

 Let’s face it; we get pumped when we talk to someone who brings his/her A-Game. If you are excited about what you are selling, it will come through in your pitch. In the Shark Tank, people who are excited and knowledgeable immediately get the Sharks' attention.

[ by      from Salesforce Blog ]

[ Read original: Attack Your Sales Pitch with Tips from The Shark Tank ]

Topics: Sales Process

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