Video Production Business Tips – Pointers in Selling

Contrary to most people, I actually enjoy when a salesperson calls on me to request a meeting. See, if they are really good, I’ll meet with them more out of respect for a job well done than to actually purchase the product. Then, if after the meeting they end up being REALLY good, I will usually buy their product or service (unless it’s cost prohibitive) simply out of respect for yet another job well done.

If it just doesn’t make sense for me to become their customer, I will often try hard to connect them with someone who I think would be a better fit. It’s only fair in my mind if they are hustling and have applied the right sales principles to their pitch.

BUT, when a salesman does a decent job on the phone but they absolutely blow it in the meeting, not only do I not purchase the product/service or make a referral to one of my colleagues, I give them a 5-minute bonus coaching session on how to properly sell the next person they sit down with. Here’s what happened yesterday.

A sales guy for a large business organization requested a meeting so he could try to sell me an annual membership. After sitting through his presentation for about ten minutes, it was time to tell him that I wasn’t interested and to then take a few minutes of his time to point out how he needs to sell his services the next time around. (Please understand that I’m not being rude when I do this. I’m simply offering a little constructive criticism. After all, he took 10-20 minutes of my time, now I get to do the same in a way that hopefully will help him close more deals in the future.)

His pitch…

In the first 5 minutes of our meeting, he told me all the reasons that the Internet was a strong marketing tool for my business and how they could help me use it (the internet) to gain valuable customers who are searching for my services online. He proceeded to go into major detail on the concept of their membership directory and how when people go to their website, they will search for my services and that there have been a lot of inquiries for my service category in 2012. (I hope you are sensing my sarcasm.)

Issue #1 – If you spend 30 seconds researching my company or even me as a professional, you’d figure out that I pretty much know and completely understand the concept of the “Interwebs” and how to use it to market my business. Considering when you search for my keywords on Google, I’m actually listed as #1 and this membership organization is listed below me.

Solution #1 – Do your research! Don’t show up to a sales meeting without spending at least half an hour learning as much as you can about the prospect. If you ask the prospect questions that you could have found the answers to on the home page of their website, you will not only lose the sale – you’ll look like an idiot!

After I established that I knew a lot about internet marketing and that I was well aware of how powerful it can be to promote my company, he followed with this,

“Well, we had 28 inquiries about your service category in 2012 and if you were one of our members, you could have had an opportunity to win that business.”

I said “show me the stats.” He then pulled a sheet of paper out of his folder that was clearly marked “marketing consultant” for the service category.

Issue #2 – If you want to demonstrate a benefit, make sure it’s in line with the industry that your prospect is in! For instance, don’t show a small business owner statistics that a huge, multinational corporation gets with a national advertising budget.

Solution #2 – It’s probably obvious at this point, but this guy should have first done the research, then he should have pulled stats on the “video production services” industry category. That’s all that really matters to me since I’m not a marketing consultant.

At this point in the presentation, he’s struck out twice. Just when I think it has to get better from here, he pulls out a sheet of stats to show me as an example for how many inquiries they received last year and to show that they had the “seal of approval” next to their profile. (which basically means they have paid the membership fee!)

Issue #3 – I quickly notice that this company is in the “marketing consultant” category. (At this point, I’ve already established that this is not my category.) He proceeds to tell me that in the eyes of the public, this company would be considered more credible than me because they are a member of this organization.

I said “Okay, can I see the paper?” I took a closer look at the company and quickly realized that I had never heard of this “credible marketing agency” and that the business address was actually a home address in a nearby neighborhood. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with a home office (I’ve had several myself) but to use this company as an example for why I should join is another blunder at this point.

Solution #3 – First of all, if I have already said I’m not in the “marketing consultant” category, you need to stop the program right there because the train has derailed. Don’t waste another second trying to sell me with bad or irrelevant information. The other thing is, again, do your research to make sure the company you are using as the “shining” example is actually one of the major players in the local industry.

If you show a company that no one has ever heard of, that’s not very impressive. In my brief post-sales meeting classroom session, I told him that what he should have done is pull the biggest competitor I have who is also a member and use those numbers to impress me.

That would have gotten my attention in a heartbeat. If there isn’t a competitor of mine in their directory, at least pull another successful small business up who is both reputable (and recognizable) to the average person in my community.

After three strikes, he tries to convince me that if I sign up, I’ll be able to use their logo at the bottom of my website and that will cause prospects to trust me more than they do now which will result in more sales.

“Hold up! Wait a minute. So, you’re logo at the very bottom of my website will build more credibility than the Fortune 500 logos I have at the top of my site who have already trusted me enough to hire us for numerous projects?” That question resulted in another blank stare back across the table from the salesman.

Finally, and I do mean finally! After all the wrong turns, bad info and poor persuasion tactics, he tried to close the sale with this,

“Our committee is meeting this Monday and if you want to get your membership started next week, you’ll need to fill out the application right now and give me a check for $420 so I can submit the paperwork tomorrow.”

Well crap, why didn’t you say so?!? Where’s my check book? (yeah right)

That’s the point in the presentation where I respectfully declined and went into my, “Let me explain something to you so you can sell more memberships in the future” lecture.

I know that he benefited (or not depending on your point of view) from my general bad mood due to some other issues earlier in the day, but I really do try to help these people understand why I’m not going to purchase from them.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to also learn from these lessons as you hone your ability to pitch and sell more video production projects.

What mistakes have you made in a sales presentation?

Go ahead, be honest. I’ve made just about all the mistakes listed above and I am very thankful that a prospective client (turned mentor) thought enough of me to explain how terrible my pitch was and how to never make those kinds of mistakes again!