Are You Guilty of “Pitchulation”

BY Kathy Crosett
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Is your quota higher this year? Are you supposed to do more in the same number of hours every week? If you’re nodding as you read this post, you’re like a lot of other sales reps. To speed prospects along, you might be tempted to cut a few corners during discovery. Don’t do it. That’s the advice of Richard Smith. He and C. Lee Smith, CEO and President of SalesFuel agree: Discovery is “the most important past of the sales process.”

Richard Smith lays out seven different ways that sales reps are messing up their chances of making a sale. They all start with a flawed discovery process. Here are two of my favorites and tips on how to fix what you're doing wrong.

The Discovery-​Demo Meeting

Because everyone feels pressed for time these days, sales reps combine their discovery sessions with a product demo. It’s easy to see why this happens. The prospect might be sitting across the table jiggling their leg or they’re on a video screen, visibly tapping their pencil to get the conversation going. They want to know what you’re selling, how much it costs and how it’s going to help them. 

Under pressure, you might decide to show off your product's latest new feature. But what if that feature has nothing to do with the prospect’s biggest pain points? Hold back on the product demo and start asking questions that make the prospect think the meeting’s all about them. When you do that, they’ll get into what’s really bothering them. And you’ll have the information you need to move to the next step: conducting a demo that will deliver meaningful information to them.


Richard Smith coins the phrase “premature pitchulation” in his article. I love it. The phrase perfectly describes what some sales reps default to once they are in front of a prospect. Knowing that they have only a limited about of time, they start talking about every feature of the product they’re selling. The prospect is left wondering how half of those details apply to them. And they can’t get a word in edgewise, because the paragraphs that you memorized are rolling off your tongue like a Shakespearean soliloquy.  Being blessed with the gift of gab doesn’t give you right to talk nonstop. A discovery call is not a performance, and neither is your formal presentation. 

Remind yourself to stay in discovery mode when you are learning about your client. Store up the pieces of information they share. Maybe they are struggling to track expenses or improve their core product and still keep their price under a specific threshold. 

When discovery is complete and you have a clear picture of your prospect’s struggles, use the information they shared with you to customize your pitch. They’ll be impressed that you listened and connected the dots between their challenges and your proposed solution.