Can you spot the two letters in this line destroying the entire sales pitch?

“If your organization needs help managing X, then Y is the perfect solution for you.”

The problematic word is “if.”

When salespeople say “if,” they immediately reveal two things. First, they don’t know something -- and second, they’re going to assume the answer regardless.

Using the above example: What if the organization doesn’t need help managing X or they don’t yet realize that they do? The buyer will tune out everything you say next.

Don’t let your sales pitch fall on deaf ears. Follow these four guidelines to eliminate “if” from your vocabulary and successfully engage your prospects.

1) Replace “if” with when”

With basic pre-call research, you won’t need to make assumptions in the first place.

Jill Rowley, social selling expert, recommends understanding your prospect’s background, role, and company before you make contact.

Read the company’s About page, browse LinkedIn, check them out on Twitter, and see if they’ve published any relevant blog posts.

Use this information to transform “if” statements into “when” statements.

Before: “If your organization … ”

  • “ … requires more sophisticated software”
  • “ … has more than 50 employees”
  • “ … grows any larger”
  • “ … needs help managing X, Y, Z”

After: “When your organization … ”

  • “ … experiences X pain point, our software can help.”
  • “ ... grows beyond 100 employees, our services can help.”
  • “ … is hampered by X solution’s inability to do Y, our software can help.”

This simple change communicates to your prospect that you’re actively trying to solve their problems. It also transforms a boring question into a strong, compelling statement.

2) Ask open-ended questions

It’s one thing to address generic issues based on public information. However, some information can’t be found online, such as specific pain points, or how the prospect feels about the solutions they already have in place.

Guessing the answer or making an assumption will likely lead to some major mistakes. In these instances, you need to ask questions to find the right answers.

For example, imagine you said, “If your marketing team has trouble generating cost-effective leads, then HubSpot can really help you because it has … ”

The prospect thinks, “Our team doesn’t have trouble with that, so I don’t need HubSpot.”

You’d be far more successful with an open-ended question like, “What’s your marketing team’s biggest pain point right now?”

The prospect might say, “It’s difficult for us to measure campaign efficacy. We can’t tell how our spend translates to results.”

Once you know that, you can explain how HubSpot helps marketers monitor their entire funnel.

Questions such as, “How does your startup or business currently manage X?” or “Does your organization ever feel frustrated by Y or Z?” allow you to discover the prospect’s specific pain point so that you can build a bridge to the solution.

3) Don’t reference other companies

Another popular sales line is, “If you like X product, then you’ll definitely love our product.”

This is unwise because you’re assuming you understand your customer’s relationship with another company.

If your prospect has a great relationship with that company, you typically won’t convince them to switch.

If your prospect has a negative relationship, and you align yourself with that organization, you’re automatically making your offering less desirable.

Rely on your own merits and demonstrate your core features without mentioning other products or services.

4) Think “How can I help?”

Rhetorical questions like “What if I said…” or “If I were to tell you” make you seem like the stereotypical sleazy salesperson.

You don’t need to use these old, outdated phrases to get the deal done. In fact, those lines are probably hurting your close rate more than they’re helping.

As founder Jon Morrow explains, “People can tell whether you care about them or not. Regardless of whether you’re in person, doing a video, or writing a sales letter, they are silently watching to see where your loyalties lie. And if they sense you care more about making the sale than helping find the product or service that’s right for them, they’ll immediately distrust you. So stop trying so hard.”

How do you start a non-sleazy sales conversation? Make helping prospects your number one priority. Don’t focus on the sale, but rather focus on solving problems.

Instead of asking, “What if I said?” think, “How can I help?”

Now that you know why the word “if” is such a sales killer and how to avoid using it, the time has come to put this knowledge to work. Questions? Please leave me a comment below.

Originally published May 8, 2017 8:30:00 AM, updated May 17 2017


Sales Pitch