Salespeople of the World – 5 Ways to Improve your Pitch

sales repA sales rep visited our library earlier today (Recorded Books was showing off their fledgling Rdio for Libraries product). Cool product, though I’ll guess not many libraries will go for it – bad pricing model, and no way to brand it as coming from the library. Just my opinion of course – prove me wrong, please!

But that’s beside the point. The sales rep, of course, was fine – he presented the info we needed to assess the product. It was an interesting meeting on a new model for music in libraries. What’s not to love about that?

But on the other hand, he did a couple of things that I have seen A LOT of sales reps do over the years, and it reminded me of other things I’ve seen in other product demo meetings.

So – Sales People of the World. Here are 5 ways to improve your pitch:

  1. Know how to use your own technology. I’ve seen this more than once – a sales rep takes us through a Powerpoint presentation, but never actually uses … um … the presentation mode. Instead, they have scrolled through the individual slides with a mouse. Or they advanced one slide too many, then didn’t know how to go back to the previous slide. Or simply didn’t know how to plug their laptop up to an LCD projector. All that says is that you don’t know how to use technology … even thought you are trying to sell us a technology product. Not. Good.
  2. Know technology in general. Be familiar with general technology terms, especially when it relates to the product you’re trying to sell. For example, don’t ever confuse downloading and online streaming. Two very different things. If you confuse those pretty basic things … and you’re selling a technology-related product … why should I trust you with my organization’s money? Ever?
  3. Don’t be negative about your own product. I’ve seen this many times. Either the rep will say the pricing will turn off many libraries, or the product isn’t really ready yet. Really? Then why are you here, wasting my time?
  4. Know your product. This happened in today’s meeting. Part of the coolness of the product is that it connects to Facebook and Twitter. If that’s the case, then by golly gee whiz, you had better show us what it does by clicking the Facebook button and hooking it up through your Facebook account – instead of saying “I don’t have a Facebook account yet.” One more example: I remember … granted, a LONG time ago … seeing the first web-based GEAC interface (that’d be a library catalog system). It didn’t display call numbers.Really. The rep didn’t seem to notice this in his product, until I pointed it out to him. Then he proceeded to blame the “home office” for it. Not the best way to sell a product, I’m thinking… which leads me to #5:
  5. Don’t blame the home office. If you don’t know stuff, never say “they didn’t tell us that.” I could care less who told/didn’t tell you, and it makes it sound like the sales staff and the home office are somehow at odds with each other. Instead, just say “Great question! I don’t know, but I’ll find out. What’s your email address?”
So – what else? Any of you notice something that sales people do in product demos that really just drives you crazy? Name it … and then tell us what they can do to improve!
image by Celal Teber