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Stop Pitching and Start From the Heart

By September 22, 2014

Cross posted from

Over the course of my career, I’ve heard salespeople at meetings and on calls start and end their introductions by listing their “résumé of experience” and the accolades they or their company have received. Next, they ask the customer if they’re ready to hear the pitch — the reason for the meeting. During this intro, I hear the salesperson speak about years of experience doing this, years doing that, top performer here, top company there, industry leader and blah blah blah. I have to wonder, what is the customer really getting out of this exchange?

All of this reminds me of my good friend Ben Zoldan Storyleaders;— he says it’s all “left brain stuff.” Facts and figures, lists and awards — where in that exchange is the “person,” the human being who has dreams, goals, aspirations, passions, and failures? What difference do you think it would make if the salesperson opened a meeting by telling a story about herself, the work she’s doing and what she’s truly passionate about — in other words, her real story?

After 20 years in the commercial sector, I recently took on a new role at our corporate foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. While learning about this industry I viewed a TED Talk by Dan Pallotta, titled The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong. In this video, he described philanthropy as the “market for love.” To me, love is heart, soul, and feeling. It’s no surprise that nonprofits thrive on the empathy of others. It’s also why most people who work for a nonprofit, or volunteer for a nonprofit, do so out of a sense of fulfillment they receive from the work. They’ll also have a story about their mission and the people they help.

Let’s go back to that sales introduction I mentioned earlier. Another rule of sales is to “know your audience.” To know your audience in the nonprofit, or better yet the for-purpose sector, is to understand that this is a community of altruistic people, people who devote themselves to the welfare of others. If you really want to make an impression, sit together at that first meeting and ask if you could open with a story about “who I am.”

Simon Sinek shares in his book Start with Why that “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” So, use this as an opportunity to take them on a journey. Share a story about who you are — your purpose, your cause, your belief. Tell them about someone you met along the way who benefited from the services of a nonprofit. Personalize the story by sharing the person’s first name and the organization that helped them. Fill that story with heart, soul, feeling, and emotion.

Opening the meeting with a story will help to establish an emotional connection with your customer because you’ll be sharing something that really matters to you. They’re going to remember you because of your story. I won’t guarantee you’ll close every deal, but you will get to know them and their organization at a more emotional level. How? Just ask if they’ll share their own story in return. You’ll see how their stories bring them and their nonprofit to life. These stories will provide a unique opportunity to learn about what really matters to them. And, that’s where relationships begin.

About the Author

Daryl Spreiter

Daryl Spreiter has been with since 2007 and is now working for as Senior Director, Global Enablement. He is an innovative leader with an ability to inspire and educate our employees through transformational learning programs. He is also responsible for ensuring our go-to market teams are well-equipped with the right content, training, knowledge and core curriculum necessary to effectively position and sell the Cloud product solutions. Daryl has an open, curious spirit; is a great collaborator; and someone who is human-centered in the way he approaches problem solving.