“Tell me about your company.”

Ever hear these words when meeting a new prospect for the first time? Many salespeople believe this request presents a golden opportunity to launch into a pitch about their company, their products/services, how they do business, etc. In some cases, they drone on for five, 10 or even 15 minutes, never answering the prospect’s unspoken question: “What can you do for me?”

Such a meeting often ends with the prospect saying “Thanks, we’ll get back to you.” Of course, the prospect doesn’t, and the salesperson is left to wonder what went wrong.

The problem is that the request “Tell me about your company” is not an invitation to launch into your sales pitch. When a prospect says this, what she really wants to know is how you can help her solve a particular problem and—contrary to popular belief—launching into your pitch is not the best way to respond.

Some salespeople unwittingly create this problem, too. In my training workshops, I have heard salespeople say that they like to open a sales call by asking, “What do you know about our company?” Then, when the prospect says “not much” or “nothing,” they press the play button on their sales-pitch machine. They believe that this gives them a great opportunity to talk about their company, and while this may be technically correct, it does not help them establish credibility, expertise or value.

Let me ask you a question: What is the one thing most people like to talk about? If you said, “themselves” you are absolutely correct—at least in most cases. This concept definitely applies to sales conversations.

Your prospects want to discuss their situations, their problems, their issues and their concerns. However, the vast majority of salespeople spend the bulk of their time talking about their own company, products, offerings, etc.

The next time you are tempted to launch into your sales pitch immediately upon meeting a prospect, bite your tongue and wait. Validate the research you have conducted on your prospect by asking a few thought-provoking questions about him. Gain the prospect’s interest and you will get—and keep—his attention.

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