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The Pitch

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I can’t wait to leave this town; how would I spend another year in this school all because of one course and worse still, all the people I started this journey with are graduating. I was too sad or will I say depressed to think straight; I just wanted to take the next available flight to Lagos.

I mulled on my earlier years in school; how I was more focused on making money that I neglected my studies thinking that I could do both and how year in year out, I made enough to take care of myself and claim a semi-financial independence but had to rely on others for well, a fair grade at the end of the semester. Well, now that saying “you can do two things at once but you can’t focus on both at the same time” made absolute sense.

I eventually got to Lagos but that didn’t help my case, I was still moody and sad. All I did was watch TV and sleep. This continued for a month until one day, my sister sat me down and advised me; “Jcee, I know you failed a course in your finals and you will have an extra year in school because of it, but sitting here and watching movies is not going to help you. Why not look for a job; after all you can always tell them you’re awaiting your result.”

I was so mad at my sister; did she think I was happy at my current predicament? Or did she think the television programs fascinated me? I just wanted something that would occupy me temporarily while I brave myself for the looming extra year. I just stood up from where we were seated and walked out of her house; to nowhere in particular, I just knew I didn’t want to be where she was. I kept walking till I got to a fast food joint where I entered to get a drink. As I sat there, subconsciously thinking of what she said to me, I noticed that there was a room connecting the restaurant to other offices in the building where people were walking in and out of. With nothing to lose, I decided to check it out. Alas, one of the doors had an advert for a sales representative; and I promptly walked into the company to inquire about the job.

The front desk officer asked me if I was here for the job interview and without thinking, I said an emphatic Yes after all, Richard Branson said, “if somebody offers you an opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes first – then learn how to do it later” which was what I did and just like that, I was among those accepted for the job and then asked to go into the training room.

In the room, there was this Chinese guy who was to train us on the company’s product; some round metallic beads in the form of a necklace and bracelet. This piece of metal according to him once worn around the neck or hand will energize the person wearing it and give him/her ability to carry out more tasks than they could. He did a mini-practical with the beads and then demonstrated how we (the new sales people) will market/sell it to prospective clients. I was so convinced of its efficacy that I bought one for myself and one for my first client; my sister. I couldn’t wait to get home so I could pitch my “new product” to her, after all she always complained of being too tired after every work day.

On getting home, not only was she at home, she also had her friends over; more clients for me, I thought to myself. I went straight to where they were and told them I have something – no; a revolutionary product that will give instant energy to whoever uses it and best still, it was not an energy drink or drug, it was a necklace that could also help in beautifying them. When I was done with my presentation, much to my surprise (because I thought I killed it), they all burst out laughing…even my own sister. She later turned to me and said, so Jcee, what you are trying to tell me now is that if I wear this stuff on my neck I will have instant energy? Yes, I answered. Well, you have just being duped, she concluded.

To her, maybe I was duped but to me, I realized that I didn’t understand how to present or sell the product in a way that will motivate them to buy which is critical for every business.

I decided to do a research and eventually came up with four vital things that need to be understood to make a sale.

  1. You can’t make an Effective Presentation if you don’t Prepare for it:

You have to rehearse well enough so that in the delivery process, you can give all your attention to the audience.

You cannot just assume that you can easily convince someone else to buy a product or use it because you believe in the product or because you like the product. You need to truly understand what you’re selling and if possible, “be the product”.

Not everybody knows how to rehearse for a presentation. I figured out that it’s much better to rehearse for your presentation or sale pitch the way you will deliver it—standing, aloud, and with the passion, pacing, and movement you’ll actually use. You may surprise yourself to see how much better you come across with each rehearsal.

You may think this kind of rehearsal isn’t real and as such, you shouldn’t dwell on it; but alas, it will make you a more confident presenter as it will help you feel comfortable and make you come across as a natural. Moreover, unknown to you, your audience can easily pick such signs.

  1. Know your Audience:

Whoever it is you are presenting or marketing to, it helps if you know their roles, responsibilities, and objectives. Understand as much as you can what’s in it for them and just as importantly understand whatever it is you’re trying to sell. It doesn’t matter if it’s an idea, a product, a plan or whatever; you simply have to understand it through and through. There’s nothing worse than losing a sale just because you didn’t take your time to understand your product or your prospective client.

  1. Listen to your Audience:

Now that you know and understand your products or services, the people you are selling to and you’re so prepared and passionate to get it out.

Do Not Do That Just Yet.

That was unexpected right. Well here is what it is, if you go right away into pushing your product into the market, you may end up sounding pushy and desperate; like it’s all about you which it isn’t. It’s about your audience, it’s about their needs and goals.

So it actually helps you when you ask them how you can help. You need to listen and understand them. Hear them speak; after all Information is power. With the information you get from them, you will then find the right approach to present your product to them which will improve your chances of making the sale.

  1. Connect with your Audience:

Every business transaction involves a genuine connection between the buyer and the seller no matter how excellent the product is.

To be able to connect with your audience, you have to explain things in a way that resonates with them. So if you have listened to them and asked the right questions, you would then assume their position in the sale process and then and only then will you know what exactly they are looking for and how to connect with them.

Knowing all this helped me in my future outings with my “energy necklace and bracelet”. I was able to sell to clients not just based on the fanciful nature of the product but also how it will be of help to them in the long run and they were indeed glad to have it in their collection both as an adornment and an energizer. Thankfully, I now had something to occupy my time and also profit out of which would be of help when I would return back to school for my final-final year.

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