Think about ditching the sales pitch. It’s not merely an important profession. Sales is an honorable field, too. But there’s a part of sales that feels undignified to me, something the industry could do without. I’m talking about the pitch.

Ethics is defined as a system of moral principles concerned with what is good for individuals and society. If that is true, how can a pitch be ethics-based when the effort is focused on trying to get you to buy something before I know whether you need it or want it or whether it would even be of benefit to you? It can’t, so drop the sales pitch. A pitch is a self-centered technique that isn’t focused on helping other people. In my estimation, it violates what is ethical because it focuses only on the salesperson without taking into account how a prospective customer might benefit, too.

People like to buy, but they don’t like to be sold to. A pitch is an example of focusing solely on the latter. If you start with a pitch, you have no idea what the prospective customer wants or needs or what would be a good fit for that person.

Focus on What Fits

I arrived at this stance early in my consulting career. Corporate life can often force you to focus on quotas and targets. Leadership, meanwhile, might dictate that hitting your numbers — regardless of whether the product or service fits the client’s wants and needs — is more important than anything else.

To be clear, this approach doesn’t make it harder to hit your quota or target; it makes it easier. You now spend time with prospective customers who might actually buy from you rather than trying to force people to buy from you when have no intention to do so.

The problem with the pitch became clear to me when I sold a client only to later realize that the company had been a bad fit for what I could deliver. The client wasn’t ready to make the necessary changes to the company. I was left trying to help make it work, but the client wouldn’t let me. Now, we teach our advisors that both parties get to make a decision regarding whether they’ll work together. Focusing on a mutual fit rather than what can be sold is one of the most crucial lessons a salesperson can learn.

Being a good salesperson is about helping a prospective customer satisfy a need or a want. It is, after all, the honorable thing to do. The problem is that too few salespeople take this approach. Don’t just take it from me. Consider the evidence.

While less than 20% of salespeople think they are being pushy to drive a transaction, half of all buyers feel like they are being pushed too hard toward a sale. To improve relationships, ditch the pitch. Without pitches, your people can have more effective sales conversations with prospective customers because they don’t have to try so hard to make a sale. They only have to determine whether there’s a mutual fit.

Make It a Two-Way Conversation

To do so, start by asking plenty of pointed questions that get to the heart of the customer’s wants and needs. By taking this approach, your prospective customer conversations are all going to be different, so start by focusing on what is important to the client. This will make your prospective customer conversations much more collaborative because you are focusing on helping someone buy rather than convincing someone to buy. From these conversations, you can determine whether your product or service actually fills your customer’s desires. If not, walk away or refer the customer to someone else.

The best businesses focus on putting customers first. Salespeople ought to do the same. By prioritizing a customer’s wants and needs, salespeople can see whether their product or service aligns well. It also shows customers that they are more than just a number. So drop the sales pitch and start making customers feel important.

If you’re interested in learning more from Mark Thacker, join the SMEI webinar on December 3, 2019.

Mark Thacker is the president of Sales Xceleration, a firm specializing in sales strategy, sales process, and sales execution. Mark has a 33-year history of sales leadership and success in diverse industries.

A natural leader and motivator, Mark has led sales teams with annual revenue responsibility from $1 million to in excess of $800 million. Prior to the founding of Sales Xceleration, he personally worked with more than 50 companies in the small business community, serving as an outsourced VP of sales, helping many to record-breaking results. As the leader of Sales Xceleration, he has overseen the growth of over $1 billion in revenue from Sales Xceleration clients since 2011.

Mark is the author of “Hope Realized: Finding the Path to Sales Success.”