Pitch perfect: Dos and don’ts of face-to-face sales

- July 23, 2012 2 MIN READ

At a recent trade show I heard sales pitches from around 60 stallholders. Some of them were real pros, whereas others got it abysmally wrong. If I could, here are the face-to-face sales tips I would give the latter:

  • If a man and a woman are shopping together, don’t assume that the guy is the one who’ll be making all the decisions and direct your entire sales pitch to him – or the other way around.
  • When I ask you to tell me more about your product, please don’t silently hand me a QR code.
  • I appreciate that you like to pre-qualify your sales leads, but the appropriate way to start a conversation is never: “Our solutions start at $15,000 – and I don’t think you can afford that.”
  • If your product offering has security and quality issues that are well known in the market place, starting your sales spiel with, “It’s just like [the market leading] XYZ company, only safer,” is a sure-fire way to ruin your credibility.
  • If I tell you I’d prefer to have someone install your product for me rather than do it myself, please don’t respond with, “Oh, no, do it yourself, it’s really easy.” It might be to you, but it’s not to me.

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All these people made me want to run for the hills (or at the very least to share my thoughts on their tactics with 48,000 friends!).

On the other hand, those that did a great job of their face-to-face sales pitch left me feeling inspired. What was the key difference?

  • They treated people like humans instead of dollar signs.
  • They shook hands in a way that implied they were meeting someone they wanted to form a long-term relationship with.
  • They spent time asking about my business before they launched into selling their products and services. They got bonus points for showing genuine interest in my business, enthusiasm about how they could help and if they made me laugh.

I reckon the same principles apply regardless of whether you’re selling from the tradeshow floor, your website or in any other environment, so I’d be interested in your observations.

What’s the secret to the perfect face-to-face sales pitch? And what puts you off completely?