The 2 Letters Destroying Your Sales Pitch (& How to Stop Saying Them)


Can you spot the two letters in this line destroying the entire sales pitch?

“If your organization needs help managing X, then Y is the perfect solution for you.”

The problematic word is “if.”

When salespeople say “if,” they immediately reveal two things. First, they don’t know something — and second, they’re going to assume the answer regardless.

Using the above example: What if the organization doesn’t need help managing X or they don’t yet realize that they do? The buyer will tune out everything you say next.

Don’t let your sales pitch fall on deaf ears. Follow these four guidelines to eliminate “if” from your vocabulary and successfully engage your prospects.

1) Replace “if” with when”

With basic pre-call research, you won’t need to make assumptions in the first place.

Jill Rowley, social selling expert, recommends understanding your prospect’s background, role, and company before you make contact.

Read the company’s About page, browse LinkedIn, check them out on Twitter, and see if they’ve published any relevant blog posts.

Use this information to transform “if” statements into “when” statements.

Before: “If your organization … ”

  • “ … requires more sophisticated software”
  • “ … has more than 50 employees”
  • “ … grows any larger”
  • “ … needs help managing X, Y, Z”

After: “When your organization … ”

  • “ … experiences X pain point, our software can help.”
  • “ … grows beyond 100 employees, our services can help.”
  • “ … is hampered by X solution’s inability to do Y, our software can help.”

This simple change communicates to your prospect that you’re actively trying to solve their problems. It also transforms a boring question into a strong, compelling statement.

2) Ask open-ended questions

It’s one thing to address generic issues based on public information. However, some information can’t be found online, such as specific pain points, or how the prospect feels about the solutions they already have in place.

Guessing the answer or making an assumption will likely lead to some major mistakes. In these instances, you need to ask questions to find the right answers.

For example, imagine you said, “If your marketing team has trouble generating cost-effective leads, then HubSpot can really help you because it has … ”

The prospect thinks, “Our team doesn’t have trouble with that, so I don’t need HubSpot.”

You’d be far more successful with an open-ended question like, “What’s your marketing team’s biggest pain point right now?”

The prospect might say, “It’s difficult for us to measure campaign efficacy. We can’t tell how our spend translates to results.”

Once you know that, you can explain how HubSpot helps marketers monitor their entire funnel.

Questions such as, “How does your startup or business currently manage X?” or “Does your organization ever feel frustrated by Y or Z?” allow you to discover the prospect’s specific pain point so that you can build a bridge to the solution.

3) Don’t reference other companies

Another popular sales line is, “If you like X product, then you’ll definitely love our product.”

This is unwise because you’re assuming you understand your customer’s relationship with another company.

If your prospect has a great relationship with that company, you typically won’t convince them to switch.

If your prospect has a negative relationship, and you align yourself with that organization, you’re automatically making your offering less desirable.

Rely on your own merits and demonstrate your core features without mentioning other products or services.

4) Think “How can I help?”

Rhetorical questions like “What if I said…” or “If I were to tell you” make you seem like the stereotypical sleazy salesperson.

You don’t need to use these old, outdated phrases to get the deal done. In fact, those lines are probably hurting your close rate more than they’re helping.

As founder Jon Morrow explains, “People can tell whether you care about them or not. Regardless of whether you’re in person, doing a video, or writing a sales letter, they are silently watching to see where your loyalties lie. And if they sense you care more about making the sale than helping find the product or service that’s right for them, they’ll immediately distrust you. So stop trying so hard.”

How do you start a non-sleazy sales conversation? Make helping prospects your number one priority. Don’t focus on the sale, but rather focus on solving problems.

Instead of asking, “What if I said?” think, “How can I help?”

Now that you know why the word “if” is such a sales killer and how to avoid using it, the time has come to put this knowledge to work. Questions? Please leave me a comment below.

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Source: The 2 Letters Destroying Your Sales Pitch (& How to Stop Saying Them)

The 6 Surprising Characteristics of Successful Pitches [New Research]


What are the differences between a sales call that leads to a closed deal and one that leads to an unresponsive prospect?

You might chalk up failure to a number of things — the prospect wasn’t interested in the value prop, they were looking for a cheaper solution, your product didn’t offer all the features they needed, and so on.

But a new article in Harvard Business Review suggests your attitude may be the culprit.

Lakshmi Balachandra, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College and negotiation and pitching expert, spent 10 years studying meetings between venture capital (VC) investors and entrepreneurs. The takeaways will improve your sales pitches.

Focus Your Delivery

Most founders think the contents of their sales pitch is the biggest determining factor of the investment. In other words, making investors believe in the mission and product will lead to funding.

However, Balachandra says investors are actually judging entrepreneurs on their personality. By the time they get to an in-person meeting, the VC has already reviewed the founder’s pitch.

Calls between salespeople and prospects work the same way. Most buyers won’t agree to speak with you unless they see your solution or expertise as relevant to their situation. To build on this foundation and actually win the deal, you must create the right impression.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should put 100% of your energy toward your delivery. If buyers don’t fully understand the value of your offering, they won’t make good customers. Connect your product’s features to their pain points, encourage questions and feedback, and reinforce your points with customer stories.

Dial Down Your Enthusiasm

According to common wisdom, you should be energetic and passionate about your product. If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, how will the buyer?

Yet when Balachandra analyzed 185 pitches, she discovered people prefer calm demeanors over “passionate” ones. Follow-up research revealed calmness comes across as leadership strength.

With that in mind, don’t be too enthusiastic on sales calls. Act cool, collected, and self-assured. Your prospects will instinctively give more weight to your argument.

Trust Is Crucial

We’ve always stressed the importance of credibility, but it turns out winning your prospect’s trust might be even more significant than we knew.

Balachandra discovered investors would rather work with a trustworthy founder than a competent one. Believing the entrepreneur is honest and straightforward decreased their sense of risk — and unlike specific skills, it’s nearly impossible to “teach” character.

What does that mean for salespeople? First, never claim to know something you don’t. It’s better to admit your ignorance than risk being caught in a lie. The buyer may even trust you more because you’re clearly honest.

Second, use case studies and testimonials to reinforce your credibility. Broad claims like, “Our tool will make you more efficient” aren’t very believable, but specific, data-backed ones like “Our tool allows Dataguard’s average salesperson to give five more demos per week than before” are.

Other Quick Tips

There are three more takeaways from Balachandra’s research that you can implement immediately to start closing more business.

Add some humor. Laughing makes entrepreneurs likelier to get funding. During your sales call, demo, or presentation, crack a joke or two. It will make you look more confident and help you build rapport with your audience.

Highlight mutual connections. Founders who mentioned friends they have in common with the VCs were more successful. If you don’t have any shared contacts, bring up mutual customers or the other companies in their space using you. Your goal is to enhance your authority with names or businesses they’ll recognize.

Avoid being overly emotional or expressive. When founders were too warm, expressive, or emotional, their chances of success went down. With this in mind, try to be assertive and relatively neutral.

Pitching to VCs and pitching to prospects are very similar. To win their money, you need to earn their trust. And to earn their trust, you need to demonstrate confidence, credibility, and preparedness.

What do you think — is this research helpful from a sales rep’s perspective? Let us know in the comments.

HubSpot CRM


6 Honest Selling Secrets From a Dishonest Man


In 1911, a man walked into a room full of strangers to deliver what would become one of the greatest sales pitches of all time.

That man was Daniel Plainview, the fictional anti-hero of There Will Be Blood.

In a beautiful blend of necessity and natural aptitude, Plainview turns a disinterested crowd into people begging for his offer. It’s the stuff of sales letter dreams.

Plainview does it by implementing six honest selling techniques to captivate the crowd and turn their skepticism into trust.

Here are the six secrets behind his approach and why they worked.

Secret #1: Talk to Humans Like a Human

A strange thing happens when we start to sell something: We transform from a normal human into a profoundly irritating one. I call it the “Overly Chipper Effect.”

Its trademark is faux enthusiasm, overuse of exclamation points, and LOTS OF CAPS!!!!!

We hate doing it and our customers hate hearing it, yet we can’t stop ourselves from becoming someone we cannot stand.

Daniel Plainview does the opposite. He addresses the crowd like a human being speaking to another human being.

He doesn’t sound like he’s selling — he sounds like he’s talking.

His tone is calm, relaxed, and level-headed.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve travelled over half our state to be here tonight. I couldn’t get away sooner because my new well was coming in at Coyote Hills and I had to see about it. That well is now flowing at 2,000 barrels and it’s paying me an income of $5,000 a week.”

He uses plain language. He doesn’t hide his accent. He doesn’t try to be someone he’s not.

Plainview isn’t pitching. He’s conversing. Like an ordinary human talking to other ordinary humans.

Secret #2: Show, Don’t Tell

When it comes to sales, people don’t like to be sold, they like to buy.

Being “sold” makes us feel like we’re being taken advantage of. Buying makes us feel like we’re in control. We choose to buy something. It is our decision.

You want your prospects to feel like they’re buying from you, not that you’re coercing or “selling” them into wanting something. Plainview knows this, which is why he doesn’t go in for the hard sell. He takes a different approach. He tempts the audience, teases them, but doesn’t force their hand.

It’s not about a “hard sell,” it’s about getting the crowd to trust him. His approach: Get the audience to come to their own conclusion. He does this by using the truth.

Going back to his opening statement, watch how he uses the truth to communicate and engender trust:

Message: “I’ve traveled over half our state to be here tonight.” Metamessage: I work hard.

Message: “I couldn’t get away sooner because my new well was coming in at Coyote Hills and I had to see about it.” = I’m not all talk. My wells are my priority.

Message: “That well is now flowing at 2,000 barrels and it’s paying me an income of $5,000 a week. I have two others drilling and I have 16 producing at Antelope.” = I know what I’m doing here.

He indicates that he’s an expert without bragging about it.

He follows the “Show, Don’t Tell” principle. He’s not saying “I’m the best oilman in the world!”

He’s saying, “Here’s what I’ve done. Here are my results. Judge for yourself.”

Which is why when he closes this section with:

“So, ladies and gentlemen, if I say I’m an oilman, you will agree.”

You do agree. What else could he be, given his results?

He doesn’t tell you he’s an oilman. He shows you he is.

And as a result, you don’t feel like you’re being “sold.” You feel like you want to buy from him.

Secret #3: Go Tribal

The economic principle of “anchoring” is our human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered when making a decision. We are “anchored” by it.

You see this a lot in infomercials.

“This bundle will normally cost you $600. But today, we’re offering it for $39.99 for a limited-time only!”

$600 is the anchor.

$39.99 sounds like a steal when you compare it to $600. This works because of the Contrast Effect. The contrast between the two prices makes the lower one more appealing.

The Contrast Effect also works when you apply it to tribes.

When you focus on the contrast between groups, it bolsters your identification with the group you’re a part of.

The fancy term for this is “group identification.”

I call it “going tribal.”

To see how this works to your advantage in sales, watch how Plainview sets up the contrast between “oilmen” and “speculators” (emphasis mine):

“Out of all men that beg for a chance to drill your lots, maybe one in twenty will be oilmen; the rest will be speculators — that’s men trying to get between you and the oilmen — to get some of the money that ought by rights come to you.

Even if you find one that has money and means to drill, he’ll maybe know nothing about drilling and he’ll have to hire the job out on contract, and then you’re depending on a contractor who’ll rush the job through so he can get another contract just as quick as he can. This is… the way that this works.”

It’s masterful.

He goes tribal. According to him, there are two kinds of people: Oilmen and Speculators.

Speculators are presented as the “guys you don’t want to do business with.”

They take advantage of you. They’re white collar businessmen who see an opportunity, but won’t get their hands dirty. They don’t really understand oil. They’re just playing the game.

Contrast that with oilmen.

Oilmen look out for you.

They know what they’re doing. They’re hands-on. They understand the ins-and-outs and particulars that speculators don’t. They know how this business works. They’re not playing a game: this is their life.

Plainview uses the Contrast Effect to make the case for doing business with him, an oilman, even stronger.

Secret #4: Give a Reason Why

Instead of condemning the “other party,” Plainview starts to talk about why being an oilman matters to these people.

He pulls two persuasion levers to do this. Contrast effect (See Secret #3) and Reasons Why.

When you give people a reason why, they feel compelled to comply with you.

(See the irrational power of the word “because” here. It doesn’t matter how trivial the reason, people are more likely to comply with a request if you give them a reason … any reason.)

Plainview launches into an explanation of the reasons why being an oilman matters.

In other words, these are the benefits to the prospect for doing business with him, an oilman, rather than a speculator.

“I do my own drilling, and the men that work for me work for me. They’re men I know.

I make it my business to be there and to see their work.

I don’t lose my tools in the hole and spend months fishing for them.

I don’t botch the cementing off and let water in the hole and ruin the whole lease.”

The townspeople don’t know that these issues even exist. By opening their eyes and giving them these “reasons why,” Plainview makes an irresistible case for the advantage of going into business with an oilman.

Secret #5: Look Out For Your Prospects

We like to do business with people we know, like, and trust. Part of garnering that trust is making your prospects feel like you’re looking out for their interests, not just your own.

This is a tough one to nail. Most companies (and certainly salespeople) oversell on this point and lose their prospect.

But not Plainview. Watch how he communicates that he’s looking out for these people.

“Now, you have a great chance here, but bear in mind, you can lose it all if you’re not careful.”

First, he tees it up modestly. It’s not “the deal of a lifetime!” or “An opportunity you don’t want to miss!” — he’s not wielding faux scarcity or bombastic claims about the offer.

Let’s break down the brilliance contained in that one line:

“Now, you have a great chance here,”

He’s stating plainly, this is a good deal.

“… but bear in mind, you can lose it all …”

He puts the onus on them. Remember, people don’t like to be sold, they like to buy. He’s allowing them to do that here. This is their decision, not his.

What’s more, he’s increasing their trust in him by being transparent that they could get screwed. They might lose everything; they have to be willing to play the game.

He’s not selling them “a profit.” He’s selling something else which is revealed at the end of this sentence:

“… if you’re not careful.”

And here’s where he hooks them. He’s positioning himself as the thing that will help them be careful.

The landscape is dangerous. There are “speculators” trying to take advantage of you. But he’s an oilman. You want to be aligned with the oilman tribe (Secret #3).

He can make sure you don’t fall victim to those swindlers. He can make sure, if that rig is going to work — which it might not — but if it is going to, he’s the one who’s going to be able to do it for you.

The takeaway: I’m looking out for YOU.

Secret #6: Sell To the Heart, Not to the Head

Every good salesperson knows we buy for emotional reasons, not rational ones.

We justify our emotional choices with rational reasons. You tell yourself all the rational reasons why your $4,000 TV is better than the $500 one. The warranty, the quality, the specs …

But really, you want to be the guy that has the dream living room. It has nothing to do with the specifics of the TV.

The rational reasons help you justify the emotional decision you’ve already made.
Plainview understands this which is why his offer doesn’t focus on the logistics of what he can do for these people. His offer is this:

“I’m a family man. I run a family business. This is my son and my partner, H.W. Plainview.
We offer you the bond of family that very few oilmen can understand.”

He’s not selling them a “great deal!” or “lots of money!” He’s selling them security, confidence, and trust.

“We offer you the bond of family.”

That’s the offer.

Everything that comes after merely justifies the sale. Like this:

  • “I’m fixed like no other company in this field and that’s because my Coyote Hills well has just come in.” (reason why)
  • “I have a string of tools all ready to put to work.” (reason why)
  • “I can load a rig onto trucks and have them here in a week.” (reason why)
  • “I have business connections so I can get the lumber for the derrick — such things go by friendship in a rush like this — and this is why I can guarantee to start drilling and to put up the cash to back my word.” (reasons why)

These are the rational reasons why you’d do business with Plainview. But the reason you say “YES” is not because of the rational reasons. It’s because of this:

“I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, no matter what the others promise to do, when it comes to the showdown, they won’t be there.”

The bond of family.

The Surprise Ending

All too often people complain that sales is manipulative, insincere, or “just feels icky.”
This two-minute scene proves you can sell effectively by being honest, sincere, and authentic.

Daniel Plainview doesn’t try to be someone he’s not, he draws attention to what he is — an oilman. He lets his prospects judge him by his results, not his silver tongue.

He makes promises he can keep. And as a result, the townspeople are clamoring for him. What happens next, however, is the next best secret to great sales …

While the townspeople argue amongst themselves about what to do, Plainview gets up and walks out of the meeting.

He is chased down by some of the townspeople when a man named Prescott turns to him and says:

Prescott: Mr. Plainview! No! Where are you going?

Plainview: I don’t need the lease, thank you.

Prescott: We need you, we need you to …

Plainview: Too much confusion! Thank you for your time.

Prescott: No, no, no! There’s no confusion! If you just …

Plainview: [stops in his tracks, stares down Prescott] I wouldn’t take the lease if you gave it to me as a gift.

He rejects them. #likeaboss

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on ThinkGrowth and has been republished here with permission.

HubSpot Free Sales Training

Source: 6 Honest Selling Secrets From a Dishonest Man

How to Create a Great Sales Pitch in 3 Steps


“Consultative selling” comes up again and again. But what does it really mean? And how can you make your sales pitch — which is traditionally product-centric — more consultative?

First, let’s dive into the differences between product selling and consultative selling. Then, I’ll explain how to create a consultative sales pitch. Finally, I’ll share a customizable connect call script that works with the consultative style.

Product Selling is Easier

If you compare product selling and consultative selling, it might seem obvious the second is better.

But most salespeople use the first approach. Why? It’s an easier way to try to sell.

Most salespeople have a lot of product knowledge, allowing them to talk to every prospect about their products without much extra thought or planning.

While a product selling sales pitch might be easier, it’s less effective. A push approach often repels prospects, damages rapport, and leads to time wasted chasing low-quality prospects.

A consultative approach, on the other hand, helps reps start conversations, create good impressions, work new accounts, generate more leads, and increase average deal size.

Sounds pretty good, right? Well, if product selling is easier, how do you switch to a consultative approach?

Converting Product Selling to Consultative Selling

Here are the main elements of product selling. If you flip them, you’ll become a consultative salesperson.

  • Focus primarily on the product → Focus on the prospect
  • Assume every prospect needs the product → Ask probing questions to see if the prospect has a true need
  • Try to sell to every prospect → Find prospects that fit with what you sell
  • Focus on selling products → Focus on providing solutions
  • Try to sell the product at every step of the sales process → Sell the next step in the sales process
  • Do most of the talking → Try to get the prospect to do most of or an equal amount of talking
  • Center your sales pitch on explanations and descriptions of the product → Center it on probing questions
  • Talk about product specs and functionality → Talk about benefits, problems, ROI, and client examples
  • Prioritize your own interests (selling, closing, making money, etc.) → Prioritize the prospect’s interests (making money, decreasing costs, making their life better, etc.)

Building a Consultative Selling Sales Pitch

Even if that list makes sense to you, you might still be unsure what to say and which questions to ask. It is easy to know what to say when all you do is talk about the product. It is a little more difficult to have good probing questions ready and to keep the conversation centered around the prospect.

Here’s a simple process that will make it crystal clear what to say and ask.

  • Step 1: Think of a 2-4 benefits that your product offers (improvements that your product will create, e.g. automate processes, decrease time, decrease costs, increase revenue)
  • Step 2: For each benefit, think a of a problem or challenge that is solved (sometimes the opposite of the improvement that the product creates)
  • Step 3: For each problem, compose a question you could ask to see if someone has that concern

Consultative Selling Call Script

Use the points you developed to create a call script. Here is an example of one I’ve personalized with my information — simply take out my details and replace them with your own.


Hello [prospect name], this is Michael Halper from SalesScripter. Have I caught you in the middle of anything?

Value Statement

Great. I’m calling because we help sales managers make their teams more successful with phone prospecting and lead generation.

I actually don’t know if you are a good fit for what we provide, so I just had a question or two.

Pre-Qualifying Questions

If I could ask you really quickly:

Are your sales reps able to consistently generate leads and get into new accounts?

How concerned are you about the amount of time it takes to get new sales hires ramped up and performing?

How confident are you that all of your sales reps are asking prospects the right questions?

Is identifying and correcting under-performing sales reps important?

Is decreasing sales staff turnover one of your goals?

Are you open to exploring new ways to boost sales performance?

Do your sales reps use any kind of script or sales playbook?

Examples of Common Problems

Oh, OK. Well, as we talk with other sales managers, we have noticed that they often express challenges with:

1. Getting sales reps to consistently generate leads and get into new accounts

2. Helping sales reps give good sales pitches and ask the right questions

3. Getting under-performing sales reps corrected and on the right path

4. Decreasing high sales staff turnover

5. Ramping and training new salespeople

6. Increasing sales performance and consistently hitting targets

7.Are any of those areas that you are concerned about?

Company and Product Info

Well, based on what you shared, it might make sense for us to talk in more detail. As I mentioned, I am with SalesScripter — we provide a sales prospecting platform and sales methodology that makes it easy for salespeople to engage with new prospects and generate leads.


But I have called you out of the blue. I have some more questions for you. Can we schedule a 15 to 20-minute call next Tuesday or Thursday?

Once you’ve mastered the consultative selling approach, you’ll never want to go back to a product-centric sales pitch again. This one might require more time, energy, and thought — but the ROI is worth it.

HubSpot CRM

Source: How to Create a Great Sales Pitch in 3 Steps

4 Powerful Pricing Strategies That Have Nothing to Do With Discounts


Research shows there is a weapon you can use to increase your sales performance — a sales strategy that’s effective no matter where you work or what you sell.

What is this sales strategy, you ask?

Strategically framing your prices. It doesn’t matter if you are operating in the luxury market or if your product is as cheap as chips, it’s how you frame those prices that will influence prospects and accelerate your close rate.

1) Position Time Over Money

Regardless of the price of your product, whether it’s $1 or $1000, focusing on “time” over price can boost sales and customer satisfaction.

“Time” might equal the promise of frequent and long-term use or hours of the buyer’s life they’ll get back.

According to a study from two Stanford Graduate School of Business researchers, highlighting the experience someone will have with your product is key.

They used three different signs to advertise a lemonade stand — one that mentioned time, one that mentioned money, and one that mentioned neither.

The “time” sign attracted twice as many people as the “money” sign. These customers also spent twice as much.

“Ultimately, time is a more scarce resource — once it’s gone, it’s gone — and therefore more meaningful to us,” Cassie Mogilner, one of the study’s authors, explains. “How we spend our time says so much more about who we are than does how we spend our money.”

When pitching to prospects, talk about the time they’ll spend or save using your solution — not how much they’ll spend.

2) Don’t Compete on Competitor Pricing

Don’t compete on pricing. A separate study from Stanford found emphasizing your products are priced lower than your competitors usually backfires.

The researchers asked participants to choose between three cameras: A basic, inexpensive camera; a more advanced, mid-priced camera, and an advanced, high-price camera. Far more participants “compromised” by selecting the mid-priced camera when explicitly told to compare the three.

“… Being told to make the comparison made people much more risk averse,” the authors note.

When consumers are forced to compare products, they tend to focus on the competitive disadvantages — not your solution’s advantages.

So if you catch yourself uttering something like “Our price is 20% lower,” or “Compare our price to Product X’s price,” cut yourself off.

3) Handle the “Price Is Less Everywhere Else” Objection

Two price objections come up frequently: “I can get a better price from competitor Y” and “The price is less everywhere else.”

When you hear these, focus the conversation on your product’s quality. Point out the better quality, more robust feature set, or greater support provide more than enough value to justify the higher cost.

This strategy can actually work when you’re competing against bigger, higher-priced competitors as well.

There are times when people pay more for a product or service. But in those cases, they are paying for the brand name. If your company is a startup, for example, your company most likely doesn’t have the brand recognition to charge the same prices.

In other words, your prices are lower, but the quality is just as high.

4) Highlight Your Product’s ROI

The only time the price should ever factor into an argument is if the ROI of your product or service far outweighs the price. It’s been proven time and time again people will pay for quality, regardless of price.

According to Nielsen’s 2015 Global Health and Wellness survey of 30,000 people, 74% would pay more for healthier foods.

So while you don’t want to compete on prices, you do want to compete when it comes to the benefits that you offer that are favorably matched against your competitor.

Value is always the key to the customer’s heart, and value applies more to quality than it does to cost.

You can also mention features you’ll be releasing soon — these benefits will make your product seem more desirable, even though they’re not available yet.

Beyond giving discounts, front-line sales representatives can’t typically change or increase their standard prices. Use these four framing strategies to get the results you want regardless of your product’s cost.

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Source: 4 Powerful Pricing Strategies That Have Nothing to Do With Discounts