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The most successful sales professionals in any organization are usually the ones that have consciously or unconsciously mastered the fundamentals I’m about to share with you. In my company Pure Green Franchise, I teach all our team members that there are no short-cuts, and in any communication, the battle is won before it even starts. If I ever hear a sales professional say he or she is going to “wing it,” I know that he or she is not prepared.
To consistently win a pitch, flawless execution of the following communication strategies is par for the course.
1. Know your audience
Based on whom you are meeting with or talking to, you should cater your dialog to that person’s level. For example, if you are dealing with someone with a strong background in finance, you can get into more intricate finance terminology and details. However, if you are dealing with someone perhaps more junior who does not have a strong financial background, you should cater to his or her level of understanding. Although this may seem like common sense, you would be surprised how many people in business do not tailor their approach by knowing their audience. The result: They lose rapport and even blow the deal. You should cater your approach to your audience.
When I’m speaking to large groups of people, I refrain from using any fancy vocabulary and instead use more straightforward words. When dealing with C-level executives and high-level entrepreneurs, I use more technical terminology. It’s really that simple. I will typically cater my approach depending on whom I am talking to. In one-on-one interactions, I will adjust my vocabulary to the level of the person I am interacting with, and I will explain any complex processes or terminology if I feel he or she may not fully understand them. Be respectful of people by catering to your audience.
2. Show up prepared
It is important to show up prepared for any meeting. Before a meeting with someone that you haven’t met, you should Google the person or look him or her up on LinkedIn to find out about his or her background, work history and where he or she went to college, and look for common ground like people or places that you both know. Using this knowledge strategically can help you develop rapport more quickly.
If you are meeting with someone for a business meeting, you should know background information on his or her company in advance of the meeting. This is a must, and you would be surprised how many entrepreneurs go into meetings blindly.
3. Match and mirror
Matching and mirroring are techniques that were pioneered by Dr. Milton Erickson, a psychiatrist who specialized in hypnosis and family therapy. Erickson believed that the unconscious mind was always listening, and he made significant breakthroughs with patients through the art of matching and mirroring.
Erickson’s work on matching and mirroring is widely used in business settings. Mirroring or matching body posture helps build rapport. For example, if you are in a business meeting and someone is sitting back in his or her chair with his or her arms crossed, by subtly leaning back in your chair and crossing your arms, you can indirectly build rapport by speaking to the person’s subconscious. If this is the first time you are hearing about matching and mirroring, it may seem like a Jedi mind trick, and you may have your doubts. However, by actively practicing and gauging the results, you will be surprised by how well it works, and you will eventually start doing it naturally.
If you watch a new couple who are in love, you may notice how their body language is naturally in sync. They may pick up their drinks at the same time, both have their legs crossed and lean into the conversation. Matching and mirroring tends to happen naturally when people are in harmony. You can leverage this technique to build rapport more rapidly with people when you first meet them.
Over the years of matching and mirroring, this technique has become second nature to me, and I use it without even thinking about it. One interesting aspect of this technique is once you are in rapport with someone, he or she will typically start matching and mirroring you too. If you are standing around with a group of people and have your arms crossed, after you have been talking for a while and are in rapport with the group, others in the group will start crossing their arms. When this occurs, you will know that you are in rapport with them.
4. Master your elevator pitch
Imagine you are in the elevator with a person that can change the game for your business. You have a very limited window of time to take advantage of this opportunity.
In just two sentences, you should be able to articulate what your company does and why anyone should care. Also, pay close attention to both your physiology and tonality (as discussed above) when you’re delivering your elevator pitch. These are critical. People can tell from your delivery if you are sincere in your message, and they are subconsciously judging whether you believe in your own pitch. While your pitch is just the start, people will decide if they want to do business with you based on your pitch.
When I meet entrepreneurs of startups and CEOs of companies, their elevator pitch plays a large impact in my decision to do business with them. When I coach entrepreneurs on their elevator pitch, I not only coach them on being able to articulate their pitch, but also on their body language and the tone in their delivery. The best elevator pitches convey conviction and authenticity.