Secrets To A Winning Business-to-Business Pitch

To increase its chances of success, the entry level for the Business-to-Business (B2B) sale must be high….The beginning of a successful sale to a buyer who feels inferior, or has a pre-conceived bias against you, is triggered by the seller presenting himself as non-threatening.

When you must have someone sell for you ‘internally’ (to his bosses), two things must happen. You must have convincingly sold to him and you must wisely prep him for the sale he must make on your behalf.

To increase its chances of success, the entry level for the Business-to-Business (B2B) sale must be high. Because the sale has a reputational or financial risk attached to it, it will more likely succeed if it is pitched to a decision maker. Plus, it also makes him look good when he presents the idea as his. Occasionally though, the seller finds himself in a position where he is pitching a level or two lower than he would have desired. Like the businessman seeking a 300 million shilling loan from the bank through its relationship manager. At this time, it is imperative that the one he is pitching to buys the sale and is prepped to sell it upwards. Otherwise, the chances of success are limited.

For instance, you want the tenancy contract for your office renewed. You know the managing agency is inclined to diplomatically evict you- i.e. not renew it. For this to happen, you must be seen in a different light from the ‘irritating tenant who is always struggling to pay’ one. Even if you had been explaining your case over time, say, that the conflicts in South Sudan have adversely affected your business, you still must sell to the relationship manager who handles your account, so that he may pitch for you to the decision making unit (his bosses). So profound is this, that even if you personally  know the CEO, you make her job of putting in a good word for you easier, when it looks like the pitch is coming from the ‘person on the ground’ (internally) and not directly from you (externally). This way, she doesn’t compromise herself and still supports you.

And to sell to the relationship manager means you “stoop to conquer” i.e. bring yourself to his level. The beginning of a successful sale to a buyer who feels inferior, or has a pre-conceived bias against you, is triggered by the seller presenting himself as non-threatening. This is not to be mistaken with stooping to be kicked in the hind side. No. It’s ensuring that the buyer is driven by reason-not bias. Meeting him in his office and verbally acknowledging you need his help is one such way; he feels respected, needed, appreciated. He feels emotionally charged to take a bullet for you.

And so you hand him the ammunition to fight for you. Evidence of what your business is doing to reverse the downward spiral and why you think it will work; a payment plan for which you seek his guidance in crafting in a manner that will be acceptable; appropriate responses to give for questions that may be asked; choice words and terms to use in your mail to him surmising the meeting outcomes and copied to his bosses.

And then, for good measure, for you must remain in control of the sale, you ask, “May I meet the bosses with you?” or, “May I be included in the meeting to discuss the contract?” His body and mouth will say what you want to hear (‘Nah! Relax. I can handle this’); or, what you don’t want to-a lack of confidence. The latter means he is not sold or still doesn’t feel confident to pitch upwards. But because you still need his ‘person on the ground’ version, you confirm that he is sold. Yes. And then suggest, “Tell you what; whom else can I speak to, who can put me through to plead my case?” His eyes light up and his back straightens “Let’s go to the accountant; he has the CEO’s ear and is my friend. I can talk to him to put you through…”

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