Guide to pitching and closing - without ending up in the news

In other Social Media news, this time less about the Facebook algorithm and more about the plight of “Elle Darby” blogger and influencer and her request to stay in “Paul Stenson” Dublin hotel.  After reading several articles and many posts commenting on how Paul did not understand “modern marketing” and equally posts condemning Elle for being “entitled” I think many miss the point here. Fundamentally the issue is with the way the whole opportunity was presented, no matter how you dress it up Influencers are “selling” a service regardless of the transaction being in exchange for a hotel room or for money. It's an exchange and when you go in cold, you’re selling.   

Having cut my teeth in media as a salesperson, selling some of the hardest products in B2B and consumer, the fundamental flaw in the whole process was the opening, straight in for the kill, she opened with a close.  At no point was the lead qualified and what surprises me most is that more Hotels have not come out claiming they were sent the same message as to me the lack of thought and attention stinks of a cut and paste job.

I personally think the Hotel owner is just as bad, in the world of Social Media Marketing all to often people forget to sell, marketing any product has one goal and its a sale in some form or another, it might be a cash transaction or it might be data.  

She is young, she is not a salesperson, she will learn from it, but how should she have gone about it.

Here are our tips on understanding the sales process:

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1) Qualify your prospect - If you are looking to reach out to anyone, as an influencer or as a potential client, do your homework.  A little research rather than just blind messaging will pay dividends.  In this case, she may have worked out not only what type of character she was dealing with but the Hotel was really hot on social. This would have changed the approach, or made her think and move on! Ultimately we qualify the prospect to see if we have a chance of converting, will this be win/win for both parties?

2) Make contact - Once you have established you might have an opportunity you have to make contact, many ways to do this, but remember this is the first impression.  How many times have you been on LinkedIn accepted a connection to find 30 seconds later a spam proposal in your messages? It's a balance, no one suddenly wants a best friend out of the blue either.  Let's start with making the right impression before you get into a pitch and offer your service lets see if it's needed. “Hey, I am Elle a UK vlogger, do you work with Influencers? I am interested to know? If so I am heading to Dublin in the near future and would love to discuss an opportunity that might benefit us both, hope you don’t mind me getting in touch with you.” my personal preference would be to pick up the “dog and bone” and give them a call. Why? saves me the bother of typing an email if they’re not, also it gives me an idea of what they are doing as we can have a discussion about it, even if the outcome is not one I want.

3) Presentation - Pulling all your benefits into a pitch document, make it easy for the other party to see why they should be using you.  Your reach, who your audience is. This is also an excellent place to pop in any case studies or similar opportunities that you have worked on, show what was in the partnership and why it worked for both of you.

4) Handle those objections - Despite it being rather public, Paul’s response was an objection, you need to break down the issues and address them individually, it's all part of the negotiation. Your aim is to change the person's mind, don’t take it personally, its business you might not get the outcome you want but they buyer has outlined the reasons they are not buying from you, address these issues, don’t fall at the first hurdle.

5) Close the deal - The art of closing, it amazes me how many people do the pitch and then pitch, and pitch again, most humans find it hard to ask for the deal, the close. Why? Because we fear rejection. Go for the trial close “is that something that would interest you?” if not handle the objections and try again.  What I love about closes are the amount of them, here are some of my favourite.

Let's look at some closes as if you were asking someone out:

  • The Assumptive Close - Where shall we go on our date?
  • The Direct-Question Close - Will you go out with me?
  • The Reverse Close - Any reason why you would not go out with me?
  • The Alternative Close - My place or yours?
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Many ways to pitch and close, you do though need to understand the process to avoid ending up all over the news!

Social Media and Sales are intrinsically linked as with all sales and marketing, you can know all the algorithm hacks in the world, but if you can’t ask to close your not going to make a sale.