The Sacrificial Sales Pitch

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Have you ever felt like a stooge on a sales call? Like they called you in to steal your time and pad their due diligence analysis?

Here’s how it works.

They invite you in to answer some questions about your product. But that’s not the real purpose behind it.

The potential buyer already made their decision. They invited you in to serve as a pawn. Of course, they don’t say this but you can tell the minute you walk in the door.

The Backstory

When they go to their boss and reveal their choice, their boss asks if they compared it to competing solutions.

If they say no, they look like amateurs. They haven’t done their job. Nobody wants to look bad in front of their boss. They dance around this problem by playing a game. They invite other vendors to pitch their solution.

Psychology Kicks In

Instead of giving your solution a dispassionate evaluation, they look for reasons to shoot you down. They focus on obscure details. When they find something amiss they pounce. You walk out of the conference room feeling like you got your ass kicked.

Now, your gracious host can go back to his boss and give his triumphant evaluation.

“Company XYZ destroyed Company ABC. Company ABC couldn’t even answer these basic questions.”

The Game

Perhaps I sound a bit cynical about the corporate sales wheel. I’m not. We’re all human. We’re all biased. Winning a sale is more about relationships than dispassionate evaluation of the facts.

Just because you find yourself in this situation does not mean you are powerless to do anything about it. Here’s how you can navigate this situation and come out a winner.


Arrive prepared. Know your shit. This helps you in two ways. It builds your confidence. Confidence is half the battle. If you appear unsure or uninformed others pick up on it.

It also helps transform your audience’s perception of you. They see you as an adviser rather than a salesperson. You become someone who holds valuable information, not just a peddler of a product.

Don’t Argue

Winning an argument is next to impossible. When your prospect focuses on an inconsequential feature you don’t support, avoid defending it. Never argue about the importance.

Understand that they’re looking for a gotcha. They use those moments to justify the decision they already made.

Instead, admit that you don’t support it but hint that you have a good reason. Here are some examples. Be creative but don’t lie.

“No. We made a business decision not to support that feature.”

“We thought about it but we couldn’t find a way to manage the risk to our clients.”

“Interesting. None of our clients ever requested that.”

These examples create doubt. If they were 100% sure of their decision, this knocks it down a few points.

Stay Cool

No matter how things unfold, remain calm. Losing your cool confirms their suspicions about you. We like and respect people who remain calm in times of adversity.

Never Trash Talk

I know. You’ve heard it a thousand times before. It’s worth repeating. Never trash talk your competition. It makes you look petty and childish.

It’s Practice

My first mentor in sales gave me this advice.

Don’t fret if you’ve got a prospect who you think will never buy from you. Practice on the impossible one and the others will be much easier.

Unless the planets align in your favor, you won’t come out ahead in this scenario but it’s good practice for the ones you should win.

Before You Go…

I write about marketing, creativity and writing. I’m giving away guides on creativity, bullet writing and more. Click here to get yours. Connect with me on Twitter or linkedIn. P.S. — Click the clap button below and help others find this story.

Experimenter in life, productivity, and creativity. Work in Forge | Elemental | Business Insider | GMP | Contact: barry@barry-davret dot com.

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