Pitching and making presentations can be the most intimidating part of working in the ad agency and design business. You can have great confidence in an idea or concept… until you look into the skeptical eyes of the client or prospect, and feel that confidence drain away.
Many creative people, and goodly number of AEs, have not had much actual sales experience to fall back on in such moments. That is why learning a few good selling techniques is key to building a smart, persuasive pitch or presentation. Here is a technique we like.
Selling Must Be Simple
In selling, complication is the enemy, says Dave Trott, copywriter/creative, author and Exec CD at The Gate London. He shared this note on successful selling on his blog.
So I was surprised when Dennis [Dennis Willison, a creative director at Saatchi] said, “My mate says selling’s really easy. Just remember three things: Feel. Felt. Found.”
I said how does that work?
He said, “Well, let’s say you’re selling double-glazing for instance.
You tell the prospect it’ll cost around ten thousand pounds.
The prospect frowns.
You say, “Look I know how you FEEL. Ten thousand pounds is a lot of money.
I FELT exactly the same way when I had double-glazing put into my house.
But what I FOUND was that the savings on central heating were enormous. And the value it added to my house more than covered the cost.”
Let’s break down this technique:
FEEL– Show empathy with the prospect. You understand where they are and how they are feeling. You can appreciate their reaction. This defuses resistance.
FELT– You talk to the prospect or client like a friend, connecting your own personal experience with theirs. You bond.
FOUND – You now offer a rationale—the reasons to believe—for why their perfectly valid concerns are unfounded, for why a purchase decision is the logical, sensible move.
This is a neat trick to teach your AEs, new business developers, and even your creative team (who may be able to employ it in ad copy or to develop a selling strategy for specific target audiences).
Reduce Complexity, Build Trust
The key to this tactic is simplicity. Ignore the complex diagrams about moving a prospect from consideration to purchase decision. If you can simplify the purchase journey for a prospect to this three-step progression, you can cancel out a ton of digressions and distractions that can delay decision-making, or suspend it indefinitely.
Will it work on every occasion? No. Some prospects will have multiple reasons for why they haven’t yet made the purchase decision. So, apply this tactic to each reason. That means figuring out the answers to possible concerns ahead of the pitch or creative presentation, so you can offer your Feel/Felt/Found argument for each concern as the prospect shares it. With regards to presenting a creative idea for client approval, you can try Feel/Felt/Found by incorporating research findings and insights to confirm how the idea aligns to the brief, i.e., reassure the client as to how the idea answers the requirements and offers a solution to the problem.
The best salespeople understand their prospects well enough that they can anticipate their triggers and issues, and be ready to guide the prospect past them to a decision they can feel comfortable with.
Take a look at your selling process and see if restructuring it to align with the Feel/Felt/Found approach helps you get to YES more efficiently.