A lot can go right or wrong in a sales meeting. Whether you’re pitching network infrastructure, financial services, or an enterprise software platform, you have to “feel the room.” Every moment is a new opportunity to say or do something that could sour the deal.
What are your prospects’ needs and priorities? How are they responding to your language? How can you exude confidence and credibility and deliver a pitch that lands.
The internet boasts a wide variety of research on sales pitching, sales development, and sales technology. Some of this information is good, some of it criminally misleading.
So where do you turn? Or more importantly, where do you not turn?
To showcase some of the internet’s most insipid, formulaic (and just weird) ideas about sales, we turned to the beloved stock photo.
During your next sales meeting, follow these stock-photo steps. If you’re selling to brainless automatons . . . guaranteed win.
1. Break the ice by showing off some of your favorite gifs and memes. This reveals your sense of humor and makes you seem accessible. Pick innocuous, outdated memes like grumpy cat or that hamfisted little boy who represents success in its limitless forms.
2. As the laughter subsides, give everyone a cold, solemn stare to remind them that the future of their business isn’t a joke. Try saying, “You think this is a joke?” It’s good to keep buyers guessing.
3. Get close during your demo. If the mood feels right, try resting your chin on one of the buyers’ shoulders. It shows that you care. You’re all friends at this point, right?
4. Introduce everyone to your nephew, who has nothing to do with the deal, but is currently living on your sleeper sofa. Peter is such a nice boy. Just make sure he wears a suit this time.
5. If you feel like you’re losing anyone’s interest, go for a handshake. Physical touch is a powerful cue, and repeated handshakes help you bespeak success. Try to shake hands in front of the oldest, crappiest piece of technology in the office, like a computer running Windows XP. This will highlight the supremacy of your product.
6. Count down from three and have everyone point to a graph. First person with their pencil on a bar gets extra ROI. The graphs can be about anything — the migration of Norwegian flop whales, the spread of the Zika virus, doesn’t matter. The point is, you brought data.
7. Bring in the old guy from accounting to balance the energy. Make him feel special. Let him share a couple of the ideas he’s been developing in the basement all these years.
8. If anyone asks about pricing, discounts, or horizontal integration, act exasperated and repeat “Stop it” over and over again. Imagine them as a chorus of tiny, babbling devils orbiting your head. Scream if necessary. Potential clients love to see insecurity and loss of temper.
9. Break into a triumphant song and dance routine to cheer everyone up after the depressing cost discussion. Lose yourself in the moment. Keep dancing while people excuse themselves from the conference room.
10. Start your own slow clap at the end of the presentation you just delivered. You are the king. After three hours without a bathroom break, people LOVE you.
11. Gently rub your knuckles against your buyer’s knuckles. This is a softer, more endearing alternative to the handshake and not as jarring as a “fist bump.”
12. If a group high five occurs, try to keep your hand the highest. No reason here, other than preserving the illusion of superiority.
13. Just when they thought the handshakes were over, prove them wrong. Deliver a sneak attack handshake while they’re signing the contract. You might knock the pen out of their hand, but it will totally be worth it. Sacrifice anything for the handshake.
14. Step away for a moment and watch the sun dip below the horizon. Reflect on that one time you knocked a pen out of your buyer’s hand . . . on your days in the military, your days as a refrigerator repairman, the day you became a father. Wander off before anyone notices.
The Wrong Way to Make a Complex Sale
Stock photos represent a sterilized, shopworn version of reality. And the sterilized, shopworn approach is the wrong way to make a complex sale. You might have laughed at these photos, but if you’re aren’t treating potential buyers like they have a heart, a soul, and an intellect, you’re just as much a culprit.
Knowing buyers before you hold the sales meeting (or sales call, or product demo) can make the difference between winning new business and making a fool of yourself.
When you follow up with marketing leads, make sure you have access to the lead intelligence necessary to start a conversation. Where did the leads originate (channel)? What pieces of content did they view and download? Have they completed an email nurture track? Expressed interest in a specific product or service? All of this information can tip the scales in your favor.
If you’re working with a third-party lead generation or appointment setting service, look for the same data points, and make sure every lead matches your targeting criteria. Trying to start conversations with the wrong leads at the wrong accounts will render your pitch irrelevant, much like the generic props and meretricious smiles of the stock photo world.
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To learn more about lead generation and sales development, check out some of our previous posts: