Keep Your Pitch Focused on Your Prospect (Not You) in Business and at Work


I received the worst kind of sales cold-call last week: a cold-call that didn’t even remotely take into account my needs as a business-to-business prospective customer.  Submitted for your disapproval:

The business phone rings, and the caller ID lights up with a phone number that I don’t recognize – I pick it up.  “Hi, this is Deb.”

He takes a breath on the other end of the phone – either it’s an amateur inside salesman, or an amateur obscene phone-caller.  “Hi – is this the business owner?”

I sigh silently. “Yes, this is Deb Best, I’m the owner of Deb Best Practices.  How can I help you?”

He clears his throat. “I’m calling to tell you today about our…yada yada yada yada yada….” (Insert the service that has absolutely no relevance to my business, because he did not do his research on me before he called. It’s really simple to learn about my business.  Google my name, or look me up on LinkedIn. He proceeds to yammer his script at me for about 2 minutes, not giving me an opportunity to talk.)

Once he takes a breath, I jump in. “I appreciate your call; however, my business does not and never will need your company’s services, because of the nature of my business.”

He takes another breath. “Well – do you know of any other businesses who might be interested in using our services?”

It’s now been 5 minutes – 5 minutes of my busy Monday that I will never get back. I would never inflict that on anyone in my business network. “Unfortunately, no.  Thank you for your call – have a great day.”

He’s clearly disappointed, just like me. “Oh, okay – thank you.”

Believe me, I know that cold-calling is difficult. My daddy taught me how to cold-call when I was 14 years old, with the intent of qualifying prospects for his photography business. It was fairly simple: if there wasn’t a wedding or bar mitzvah in their family’s future, I could accomplish the cold call inside of 2 minutes, which included Hello and Thank You, because the call didn’t meet the prospect’s needs.

I see the same thing happen with job applicants. They apply to jobs willy-nilly, focused on their need to get a job, and not at all focused on the needs of the prospective employer. Also submitted for your disapproval:

  • Applying to Computer End-User Support jobs when they’ve never worked in Information Technology and don’t even have a relevant degree or experience;
  • Sending in their résumé without a cover letter, leaving it to the hiring authority to figure out how their background fits their job opening, or not;
  • Sending in their résumé to a hiring authority, asking them to find a fit for their background in the hiring authority’s organization, instead of doing their diligence to spell out to the hiring authority how they and their background may meet / exceed the hiring authority’s needs (e.g., making or saving the hiring authority money); 
  • Putting a hiring authority on the spot, asking them to give them (or their child) a job because they share a common colleague, relative or friend, without first understanding the nature of the hiring authority’s business and hiring needs, and structuring a pitch that meets the hiring authority’s prospective needs – not just their needs.

How will you best keep your pitch focused on your prospect’s needs (prospective client and/or employer) this week, in business and at work?

2014-08-03 20.57.13

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