Can media pitching principles be harnessed for sales?

To try something new, I recently took on a short term gig pitching vendor spots at an emerging conference via cold calling. My approach to sales pitching was a little different as I leveraged media pitching principles instead of pure sales techniques.

As I mentioned in a past post, I worked in bricks and mortar fashion retail during my uni days, so I’ve knowledge of in-person sales techniques (albeit I’m very rusty on these). And, working in PR one must be comfortable being uncomfortable in speaking with not only media but any type of audience a company has from community groups to employees and political advisors — whatever is needed.

It can be challenging, but all-in-all you need to have your key messages down packed and be able to say the same thing five different ways in case someone isn’t quite understanding what you’d like them to know. Patience is handy too.

Here’s what I learnt:

  • Sharing the most important information up front and working through to the least follows a logical conversation flow and keeps a prospect’s interest, such as the inverted pyramid format of a press release
  • People respond favourably to hearing about the problem (or opportunity) a solution solves, not the product (or offer) itself, a key winning way to pitch a story to business media
  • Emotive storytelling works but it’s important to be vigilant for an initial cue of interest from a prospect, going beyond what is necessary could in fact turn a warm lead off as quickly as it was secured
  • Time spent researching a prospect and referencing how you understand their business may secure meaningful interest from the offset rather than running with a robotic script. It shows that you understand their business and you’ve made a true effort. Research for tailored pitches is a non-negotiable in media relations
  • References to meaningful data and statistics or name dropping other brands already on board with your offer builds credibility and keeps a conversation moving forward if you start to feel early interest with a prospect begins to fade, towards the close. Data and statistics are leveraged in media relations pitching as proof points
  • In closing a sale the considered pitch approach afforded to journalists doesn’t really work in sales. The level of attention needed for pitching to media and applying that to cold calling sales is not conducive to KPIs nor firm enough in sealing a deal often. It’s too time involved and doesn’t create a sense of urgency.

An interesting experience! If you’ve harnessed media pitching principles for sales I’d love to know how you tweaked your close approach to achieve success.

Or, if you work in sales, if you are open to trying one of my learnings and let me know how you went that would be great.