We all want to craft a winning sales pitch, but where to start? The first step is eliminating the word “pitch” from your mind. After all, you’re a salesperson, not a major leaguer. In the past, pitching a product entailed throwing information directly at a buyer in the hope that they would stay on the line long enough to be convinced to buy. But this traditional sales strategy almost always caused salespeople to strike out.

Today, successful representatives approach the “pitch” much differently. Below are the five elements that lead to a winning sales interaction.

1. Research: Before you develop your sales strategy, do your homework. Thanks in large part to the Internet, prospects can now perform an abundance of research on products before they buy. This is especially true in the B2B realm, as more than two-thirds of respondents agreed that the number of sources used to research and evaluate purchases has increased over the past year, according to Demand Gen Report’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey. To level the playing field, learn everything and anything you can about your potential market. The most effective salespeople understand the ins and outs of their buyer’s industry, and are able to speak about the challenges and opportunities they currently face.

2. Identify Your Objectives: Before picking up the phone, write down some action-oriented goals you wish to achieve. Whether it’s agreeing to a follow-up call or closing the deal, always ask for a commitment. It’s important to have some sort of end-goal in mind with each call. Otherwise, what’s the point?

3. Make the Connection Quickly: Consumers are busy and inundated with information. They don’t have time to listen to a long-winded sales pitch. Therefore, connect the value of your solution or product to that buyer’s specific pain points quickly. More importantly, provide prospects with evidence that your solution actually yields results. Remember; decision makers love numbers. They want to know that your solution can save them “x” amount of money in “x” amount of time.

4. Ask the Right Questions: Being inquisitive is a great attribute for a salesperson to have, but be strategic with your questions. Asking obvious questions, like how many people the company employs, can easily annoy prospects and turn them off. Instead, ask strategic questions that will uncover the prospect’s needs, and then jump into telling them how your product or solution can help.

5. Be Prepared to Address Objections: Whether it’s budgetary constraints or bad timing, buyers will come up with any excuse under the sun (true or false) to reject a sale. A part of crafting a successful sales strategy is being prepared to address potential objections, whatever they may be. For example, if they don’t have the budget this quarter to invest in a new product, follow up by showing them how much money your product can save them over time.

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