Pitching should stay in baseball

Sales pitch not working? I know why. As companies started recovering from the pandemic, they were even more challenged with gaining access to buyers and creating qualified lead generation. They fell back on what they knew: cold outreach with technology.

Bad sales behavior has skyrocketed in recent years. We’re receiving more and more of the same stupid emails with the same stupid sales pitch. Just when I thought we were past transactional selling, I was proved wrong.

You know the emails I mean. They sound like this:

  • Are you interested in cloud-based phone service?
  • We are a top video company that has produced…
  • I’m sure you’re busy, and that’s the reason I haven’t heard from you.
  • Trying to reach your target buyer? That’s exactly what we do.
  • If you’re not using HR software, you should be.

The worst part is, they’re all automated, which I find totally embarrassing. Your sales pitch isn’t getting through to me or anybody else. We’re just names on your list.

I know you have to make your numbers, but chances are, this kind of cold pitching isn’t helping. Less than 25 percent of sales reps actually exceeded their quota last year, according to Hubspot.

Business is not built through transactions, but through relationships. And you can’t automate relationships. Yet, the emails, voicemails, video emails, and text messages continue.

Don’t Strike Out With a Fast Sales Pitch

Pitching belongs in baseball, but somehow we’ve gotten that terminology into our sales lexicon. I’ve always cringed when salespeople talk about developing a sales pitch, because it’s basically about them. They think they’ve knocked it out of the park, but hearing it is more like getting hit with a hardball. It makes you feel a little drowsy.

I’m sure you’ve been a recipient of a presentation when the team opened with information about their company and why you should choose them. Mostly it was because they’d been in business for many years, had important logos, and were professional. They showed you a picture of the company headquarters’ building. Then they presented their stellar solution. (Boring!)

Sales Pitch Alternatives

Top salespeople don’t pitch. They never have, and never will. Top salespeople ask good questions, they listen, ask more questions, and extract information and perspectives from the client where other less-experienced salespeople are clueless. This way, when they do talk, they have something relevant to say about the value they can add for this particular prospect.

Top salespeople don’t have to deliver a canned pitch because they are confident in their solution and in their company’s ability to deliver—and in their own ability to have a business conversation. Top salespeople are also willing to walk away if it’s not a fit. Actually, they don’t walk away. They tap into their referral network and introduce a trusted resource that can help the client.

You see where I’m going with this. Your job as an account-based sales rep is to begin a dialogue with your buyer and enroll your team in your account plan. Qualified lead generation doesn’t happen when you pitch.

What’s Your Batting Average?

There’s a saying in baseball that you’ll never get to second unless you take your foot off first. That’s a mantra that every account-based sales rep should adopt.

In sales, cold pitches won’t even get you to first base. But a referral introduction will. Instead of cold calling or emailing strangers, you’re reaching out to people who expect to hear from you, who want to hear from you. You’re set up for a home run, and you’ll close that deal between 50 and 70 percent of the time.

Now that’s a batting average to be proud of. So, stop wondering why your sales pitch isn’t working. Ditch the pitch, and get the referral.

(This post was originally published on July 16, 2017 and updated April 14, 2022.)