Last Ditch Pitch


For those of us with children, Parent- Teacher nights are either filled with anxiety that your offspring inherited their brains from the dumb side of the family ( a.k.a your partner’s side) or they are as boring as a documentary on the history of plankton.

But when a respected teacher says ‘ Look, I think your child is behind in this subject’, your nervous system would most likely go into overdrive as you frantically discuss what you, the school, the teachers and tutors need to do to prevent ultimate disaster – a future flipping burgers or worse, ending up as a member of parliament.

However, in the world of sales and especially larger deals, let’s look at what goes on when the client says ‘Look, I think you’re behind’.

The logical responses would be to ask why, methodically work through the issues, use professional negotiation skills and re-state what they may gain or lose for not choosing you.

But, when told our ‘gorgeous baby deal’ is not the brightest tool in the shed, the fight-or-flight response often kicks in in any of three ways.

1.      Defend the flag.

When told bits of our solution are ugly, some sales people defend the brand like a Rottweiler at the door.

‘We are number one in the market, you know’

‘I’ve been in this industry 15 years – this is the best widget I’ve ever seen.’

‘I can assure you this price is justified, because of the quality of the solution’

2.      ‘Tell ‘em to get stuffed’

In a classic flight response, some sales people/managers say:

‘What do you mean they want a bigger discount – I’m not giving them one’

‘Well, if they want to buy that piece of crap from Colin Competition, then let ‘em…bloody idiots’

‘If they don’t go ahead, I’m going to stop delivering all the other services we’ve been providing in this so-called relationship’

3.      Overselling

‘I know you said you didn’t value the Supermax 2000 solution, but let me go over its features and benefits again just one more time’

‘Look, come back into our office/lab/warehouse and we’ll show you again how it works so much better than anything else.’

‘Our technical expert is flying in from Russia next week, let’s book a time for you to meet with her then’

All of these responses are real examples from working on major pitches.

Here’s what you can do to win the Last Ditch Pitch when you’re coming second:

1.      Listen – especially to the detail about how and where your ‘child deal’ is behind.

2.      Ask serious questions: Why?, What do you like about the alternative? What are your options?, What would you like to see happen, Tell me where you’d like to go from here?

3.      Change your proposal. Stop defending it and accept that in the eyes of the client, it needs to be different.

4.      Negotiate. Stop selling and start negotiating whether it’s product mix, terms, price, volume or support

5.      Have the courage to see the deal for what it’s become, not what you’d hoped it would be.

It’s not too late to win the last ditch pitch before it turns into the deal that dropped out of school, ate all your leftover bonus in the fridge and sat on the couch all day watching Netflix.

Elliot Epstein is a leading Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Corporate Sales, Negotiation and Presentation trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Asciano, Samsung and Lend Lease.

He is the author of # 1 International Best Seller ‘ Confessions of a Pitch Consultant‘ and is internationally renowned for ensuring sessions are engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.

Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two negotiators.

Published in   Account Management/Retention, Blog, Executive Level Selling, Presentations, Sales Management