The war in Ukraine significantly affected the cooperation between Ukrainian companies and foreign clients. The requirements for partners have not changed, but the increased risk of force majeure forced customers to choose contractors more carefully. But there is a way out.
Michael Maximoff, the co-founder of Belkins, shares his experience in “selling” yourself to a foreign client and building an ideal pitch for a business owner in the United States.
Michael Maximoff the co-founder of Belkins
Four years ago, my partner and I decided to conquer the American market, offering our clients lead sourcing and qualification services. No one knew us, and providing services to foreign speakers seemed a real challenge. But I say with confidence — you can handle everything. Belkins is currently one of the top B2B lead generation companies in the U.S. market. We rank first in the “Top B2B Sales Outsourcing Services” rating by Clutch.co. So if we can do it, you can do it, too.
Rules of the Game
Note the differences when it comes to foreign partners. Presenting an idea is always about the interlocutor’s perception of the information. Our English sounds a bit awkward; we have different approaches to negotiations, work organization, and business in general. Even the timing of when you send a letter or call a prospect matters.
Sometimes it is worth making compromises regarding the contract clauses. This way, you will demonstrate to the other party that you are not so different and feel comfortable working together.
Strength is in an individual approach. Basic principles should be followed when offering your product or service to customers for the first time. But you won’t hit their hearts with a typical presentation and cliché phrases.
Find out the potential client’s pains. Sympathize and tell them how everything is easy to overcome together. This approach is much more effective than aggressive push sales. Start the conversation with these questions:
Does your service cover long-term and short-term goals, and, if not, what are the client’s goals?
Will your service impact the customer’s key metrics?
Will your service help close the weak points of the business?
What would a customer not want to see in a service like yours?
What are the actual terms of the project, and what are the convenient ones?
Let the client talk about it in detail. You will involve them in the dialogue because everyone likes to talk about themselves and their pain. Since you conduct a conversation through the prism of your own service, it will seem like clients are selling this service to themselves.
Improvisation is great, but it’s better to prepare before the meeting. Study your companion: learn about their hobbies, education, and work. This will help to think over topics and choose communication tools in advance.
Where to start
The conversation flow depends on a salesperson’s temper, industry, company size, and the interlocutor’s position. It is widely believed that small talk/chit-chat is a must-have when selling to Americans. Yes, it’s great to do. However, there are other ways.
Start the conversation with something specific. “When I was preparing for the call, I noticed that you were actively recruiting. You must be hiring a few people a month? How does this affect your ability to focus on new customers?” The task is to bring the client to a story about their problem from the beginning of the dialogue.
The second method is more corporate and suitable for a formal presentation. You start the call according to this scheme: introduction of yourself and the company (3-5 minutes) — agenda for the call — ask the interlocutor to tell you about their role and the company.
Clarity is essential in email and during an online or offline meeting. It is necessary to answer the questions clearly, preferably with facts and figures. This way, you will show your awareness and professionalism. Undistracted people who have everything under control inspire confidence in successful cooperation.
Another important point is a positive mindset. I often notice that we sound dull and uninteresting due to a lack of confidence in a foreign language. English, and especially American English, is about tone swings. If you can relax, be confident, use different tones, and joke while keeping the interlocutor’s attention, you will most likely sign a contract.
Communication will change by industry, company size, and representative’s position. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain flexibility when working on a presentation.
For example, when pitching to a large company, keep in mind that you are likely to be assessed in terms of reducing risk. As a salesperson, you won’t affect the sales process as much as the company’s operations do. Usually, many people are present at such business appointments. The presentation is displayed on the screen, and the clients are asked to send the documents in advance.
On the contrary, when selling to a small business, personality plays an essential role because an interlocutor also personally works with customers.
As for the presentation itself, there are many subtleties. Together with the educational project Choice31, we have developed a course on this topic, in which we analyze cases and errors in detail. Some of the advice I’m going to share right now:
Radiate confidence. Watch your tone, gestures, and talk enthusiastically about the product. If you don’t believe what you say, why should others?
Use simple words and pause. Long and complicated speeches are long gone. A customer should easily understand you and the concept of your product. Do not try to impress them with vocabulary — everything should be short and in point of fact.
Try to have a dialogue, not a monologue. Never talk about yourself much, but don’t give your customers such a chance either. Some of you might get bored.
Be honest and open. If you don’t know something, say so. And be sure to add that you will definitely find out about everything and contact the client the same day.
Always end your presentation with a summary: what decision you came to and what are the next steps. Then send an email where everything is provided clearly. If necessary, make a follow-up appointment and be persistent.
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