April 4, 2009

5 Ways to Win Business in a Recession -- Guest post by Joey Asher

This post is adapted from Joey Asher’s new book “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals that Will Distinguish You from the Competition." It is available at http://www.howtowinapitch.com and on Amazon (pre-order until May 19).

I attended many high school parties where there weren’t enough girls. Competition for dance partners was fierce. That’s what the marketplace looks like in today’s recession. New business is scarce. And competition is fierce.

Just as when there aren’t enough dance partners, when business is scarce you need to hone your pitch. In your next sales presentation, focus on five fundamentals to separate yourself from your competition.

Fundamental #1. Present a solution and nothing else. Many of your competitors start presentations by talking about themselves. “Before we start, let me tell you about how our company began . . .” Blah. Blah. Blah. Who cares? Your prospect only cares about how you can save them money, grow their revenues, or reduce their risk. Detail your plan to help your prospect and tell stories about how the plan has worked for others.

Fundamental #2
. Keep it simple. I watched three construction firms pitch to build a new school. No presentation had less than 10 points. None of the messages were memorable. Instead, you should hammer at three messages. “We’ll build your project on time. We’ll meet your budget. We’ll deliver quality work.” Simplicity separates you from the competition.

Fundamental #3. Speak with Passion. If you’re one of three firms competing, you know that your competition can do a great job. Personal style can be the separator. “When it’s close, many of the decisions just come down to who connects with us best,” one CEO told me. Passion in the voice helps you connect.

Fundamental #4. Leave half of your time for questions. Questions address your prospect’s hot buttons. Your competition often makes Q&A an afterthought. Avoid that mistake.

Fundamental #5. Rehearse. “I can always tell who has rehearsed,” said one CEO who has heard hundreds of sales presentations. Most people don’t rehearse much. Practicing sets you apart.

In a recession, the pool of new business is small. Focus on fundamentals to grab your share.

Read Joey's blog, Talking Points, here.

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