Below I have outlined three tips that I have gathered from probing sales reps and business development experts from the tech industry. Keeping these tips in mind during your next pitch to a non-technical client will help you connect with your clients and at the very least keep them engaged.
As is the case with making any type of sales pitch, clearly defined opportunities and benefits must be presented in order to show the value of moving online. We all want to know how certain products or services are going to improve our businesses, careers, lives etc. The decision to move to digital is no different. When you walk into the room to pitch your product or service, the decision makers want to know what the benefits of choosing your product/service are.
Anticipate the types of questions your prospective clients will likely have – How is moving online going to improve annual revenue? How will a digital presence increase brand awareness? What types of opportunities will an online presence create for expanding their business? Focus on questions like these and identify three to five benefits to the customer you are targeting i.e. Increase Traffic, Monetize Content etc. Outline each benefit clearly and provide an explanation on how they can achieve each one through what you are proposing. Illustrate how it can open the door to new opportunities that may not have been previously available to them and how they can capitalize on these.
It’s very easy to get people excited with promises of increased sales, brand exposure, advertising revenue and some of the other tantalizing benefits that come with creating or updating your digital presence. Getting your clients fired up about the move to digital is the goal, but it is also important to avoid making a sale to a company and then have them get disgruntled because they are not seeing the results they expected within a certain timeframe. When employees of a company get upset they tell their colleagues, friends, family etc. about their frustrations and you obviously don’t want to be mentioned in these rants. This can and will happen often if you do not set the right expectations for your clients.
Set sights on the long-term horizon
A discussion around return-on-investment and the timeframe for return is always going to come up. The key is to set realistic expectations. Engagement is not something you can flip on like a switch - it requires time and effort. The good news is that with careful planning, resources and the right execution your clients can be very successful in this area.
Clearly define goals
Setting goals is crucial to the success of any digital undertaking. With a clearly defined goal outlined from the start, you know what you have to achieve in order to be successful. Identify what your client’s goals are and show them how they can track their progress. The focus should be on an upward progression toward an end goal that can be achieved in a specified timeframe. Setting milestones that act as checkpoints will help keep customers confident that they are on track towards achieving their goals.
This is likely the most obvious tip, but also one of great importance. If you’ve identified that the decision makers are not very technical, stay away from the tech talk. This is the quickest way for you to lose the attention of your audience and make them feel disconnected from your offering. The non-technical client may already have some anxiety about moving online, confusing them with tech talk is not likely to help with this anxiety. If the technical side is absolutely imperative to your pitch, try to take the one or two most important technical aspects and present them.
Jeff Morton (West Regional Sales Manager at MLive Media Group):
"Part of the answer requires knowing what "online marketing products/services" you're referring to, but whether it's online or traditional media, you're always focusing on the client's expected result. Once you've determined that, the real power of a strong digital product mix is the accountability -- the ability to show them in real time how many customers are being engaged and how much the "needle" is moving. A ringing cash register is heard loud and clear by all customers, whether they're technical or not! Let me know how I can help."
Phil Melnik (E-Marketing Evangelist at Compare Networks):
"A good place to start is with audience. Has the clients' audience migrated Online? If so that is a conversation that is easy to have. The old adage, fish where the fish are, makes sense."
Sue (Sunni) Patterson (Co-Founder at Medical Bill & Claim Resolution):
"I would also form the pitch around the problem they are solving. Demonstrate how transitioning to digital format can increase response time, efficiency, and other key benefits that can't be realized in print. Include verifiable case studies."
Russ Willcutt (Senior Editor at Cahaba Media Group):
I'm sort of in the same boat, working to educate a magazine audience about the benefits of embracing social media and marketing themselves online when they haven't done so in the past, so I'm finding all of your insights very helpful... thanks!
Chris Phillips (Online Media Planner and Buyer at Wasserman + Partners Advertising):
"I'd add that the first few campaigns should focus on the low hanging fruit which is both measurable and moves the needle. Also ensure that the digital campaign is on brand; making sense for the client based on overall objectives. Ideally the digital campaign should be done in conjunction with other media in market, essentially acting as another media touch point."
Christiane Cormier (Manager, Custom Publishing & Business Solutions at John Wiley & Sons Canada):
"Taking the technical language and bringing it down to your audience’s level, and demonstrating the benefits beyond the techno-speak is the best way to do this. I work with companies creating custom resources and guides leveraging our 'For Dummies' brand to connect with decision makers. Our customized 'For Dummies' guides are highly informative and are used in a variety of marketing programs to communicate the benefits of a technical product, service or concept. Our customers have found our ‘For Dummies’ brand invaluable for demystifying difficult or technical topics and being able to communicate to their IT audiences as well as C-level decision makers and more. You can find out more about custom publishing here www.dummies.biz or message me for more details!"