Spaghetti Selling is one of the reasons that former programmers make lousy software sales guys or why former bank examiners, or worse, consultants, usually stink at the revenue generation profession. Why?
Well first let’s clarify what we mean by spaghetti selling. You know when you cook spaghetti the easiest way to tell if the noodles are done is to throw on against a wall and see if it sticks, if it does its done. In spaghetti selling, you throw everything you know at your prospect and hope to hell something “sticks”. You pray for the “oh that’s interesting, I didn’t know you did that” moment.
Imagine you wanted to buy a car, and so you go to the dealership. When you get there two people sit you down and tell you the history of the automobile and the dealership, going into great detail about who invented the gasoline engine, when the dealership was started, how the pretty flags got hung in the parking lot, etc. Then after about 30 minutes, they start with the first car you come to and then show you ever other car on the lot. Then after the last car, you leave, they proclaim “call us if you want to buy something”.
When our sales teams competed against the bigger names in the business, a common complaint would be “they spent an hour talking about the history of their company, our CTO left after thirty min”. We loved these types of accounts! We also found that our teams who kept their presentations relevant and focused on the needs of the client where far more successful than those who spent the first 20% of the meeting talking about the history, management, and market position of our company.
One of my prospects, who is now a client, shared with me at the start of our first meeting “What is it with you sales guys? You are all the same. I’ve had three presentations start with “Hey we are going to blow through a few slides then get into the good stuff.” Then the first thirty minutes are spent talking about the least relevant and boring things.
I quickly turned to my Sales Engineer and said “Ixnay on the ideslay”. We started the meeting with a dialogue with the client team and let that guide our presentation. Not only was it far more effective for us, but we were able to expand the project so that it more closely fit our solution.
I am a big proponent of having only one slide dedicated to intros about you and your company, quite frankly the prospect has access to Google and can know everything they need about your company within a few clicks, don’t waste their time discussing the obvious.
To test your sales pitch for “spaghetti” find a big dude, someone bigger than you, to sit in on a practice pitch. The reason you want them bigger than you is because after a few minutes your desire to kick the crap out them will be overwhelming, and smaller people have a tendency to sue when you do that to them.
After each point in your pitch have the big dude yell at you “So what?” Ex. “We have a virtual XML layer native to our architecture.” Big Dude “So What?” You “This will provide the ability to get broader distribution and use out of your content quickly and more cost effectively than other systems”. If you do not have a credible reply, remove the point from your presentation.
Of course, this starts with effective listening. Know why the prospect is talking with you. What problem is the client trying to solve? What is the pain they are experiencing now? What are the direct and indirect costs of this pain? Do they have written requirements? Whose budget will pay for this? Who is the executive in charge of that budget? What is their timeframe for making the decision?
To get you started, build one powerpoint slide with three bullet points and the title “We are to here to talk about….” With the following bullet points:
- How we can help you <insert solution to primary problem> Example “How we can help you make your web presence more effective while lowering your operating costs
- <secondary problem> How we can help you stay compliant with internal and external audit requirements, while speeding the flow of information internally
- <monetary benefit> How we can allow your organization to accommodate future growth while maintaining a constant cost of ownership
Three bullet points that is it. Trust me, the first time you build this slide it will be exhausting, because you will really have to dig deep into the client’s mindset to build this slide. But once you do, you will have the attention of everyone in that conference room (or webex).