Pitch Like a Preacher

PreacherSelling a new technology is different; it is challenging, exhilarating and almost always difficult.  And, it is fundamentally different than the classic B2B complex or solutions sale.  Well, it has things in common but, in comparison the the steady, systematic solution sale described in most sales strategy books (E.g. Miller Heiman or The Challenger Sale).  It is more like the crazy cousin who shows up for the family Thanksgiving meal with pink hair, copious tattoos, several piercings and a playlist that makes your hair curl.

What is different about the early stage sale?  First, you have limited marketing support so there is little or no brand recognition in the market; your sales team are flying solo.  Second, you are educating as you sell:  your offering solves problems the prospect may not know they have and in a way they haven’t seen before.  Third, the sales cycle is wildly unpredictable, but usually longer than you your CEO or board would like.

Now, compare this to the classic solution or complex sale of a known product or service.  You go to market as a known quantity, what you offer is similar to what your competitors dish up, y0u differentiate your offering around price, service, incremental improvements and the sale is somewhat driven by relationships.  You have a stable of existing clients and a pipeline of deals that is rich, deep and predictable.

Find a Believer

When you are selling a new idea, the future, you have to find someone in the target organization that “gets” technology and how it can change the way they work.  There is not much point pounding on prospects that are conservative, risk averse and satisfied with the status quo.  You can tell pretty quickly how y0ur prospect thinks and whether or not they are worth spending time with.


You want to position yourself as your believer’s trusted advisor (Tending to your flock is part of being a preacher) and you can help do this by underselling what your product offer.  Eliminate hyperbole, jargon and marketing speak, make claims about radical change occasionally and in an understated way.  We tend to invest more meaning in things that are not forced upon us, that we can choose to buy into.  That is the spot you want to be with with your believer.

Approach the Sale as an Educational Process

Once you have your believer, work to get them educated, nurturing the relationship.  In doing this, they will become your ally and sponsor within their organization.

Make it Easy

Make it easy for your believer to figure your product out and help her socialize it in her organization.  Offer evals, free trials or limited pilots that incrementally engage her.  I like to structure these so they migrate from free to paid, enabling me to continually qualify the prospect.

Help Your Believer Limit Risk

Your prospect has a lot on her plate and the last thing she needs is personal, political, operational or financial failure.  Help her manage this (Underselling, noted above, is part of this process.).

Keep Your Believer Amped

Taking a disruptive technology to market involves a a combination of selling the future and maintaining mystery.  New gets old fast -the CEO of a social media listening company was telling me that four years ago their technology was unheard of, three years ago in took an evangelical sale to get deals done and this year the idea is accepted, the market is mature.  She is looking to re-envision their product with a road map that stretches her company as much now as it first stretched the market.  So, so you need to keep product ideas coming and give your believer the promise of a brighter future.

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