Selling techniques often focus on presenting – or “pitching” – your product or service although this is step three in the sales process after opening and qualifying. Moreover, the popular conception is that a good pitch will get you the sale and that the best presenters are the best presenters. The bigger picture is that while you do have to be a good presenter, being a good “serviceman” – or woman – is more important. What I mean by this is what I began talking about in my articles on Opening and Qualifying.
Selling techniques often focus on talking whereas the best salespeople are better at listening than their average-performing counterparts. If you think a “good” presentation is one where you go into a boardroom dressed in a suit and armed with a board and easel - or PowerPoint - and a 2-hour long polished speech, you are dead wrong. Just like the best marketing is interactive so should the best sales be. As I will discuss below, part of what will elevate your presentation is making sure that your customer is as involved in the discussion as possible.
I believe there is a saying along the lines of, “preparedness equals success.” If there is not, there should be. I am going to be talking about countering sales objectives in the next article in this series and a lot of your sales preparation will always revolve around having answers for questions and concerns your customer will have at any point in your sales process or discussion. That being said, there is a lot more to preparedness in the realm of sales and marketing than simply having snappy replies to your top 20 objections.
Ideally, everything you do in the realm of sales
and marketing should begin with positioning. Yes, it should begin with
your customer which is what Sales and Marketing for “You” is all about.
However, with your customer you are concerned with position which is, simply
put, how they perceive you and your product or service. Once you understand your
customer’s mindset everything you say and do is informed by
that. You must speak to their way of thinking in they way of
Your purpose in presenting to your customer
is twofold: (i) to strengthen or establish the trust on which you are
building a relationship; (ii) to get your customer to open up and talk to you.
Funnily enough, your goal is the exact OPPOSITE of what many might consider the
purpose of a sales presentation to be. You are NOT going their to talk but to listen. Remember that the person who is listening is the one in
control of a conversation and not the person talking. As such,
questions are your biggest ally (read about the LAMA technique for asking questions).
It is only after listening and empathizing do you finally have the right to talk. Your customer is only going to listen to you if you listen to them first. When you do speak, you must address the needs, wants, concerns, desires, problems and so forth that you have uncovered with your questions. That is all your customer is really interested in and so why would you talk about anything else? All you are attempting to do with any "sales" situation is match what you have to what they are looking for and to transform the positioning of your product or service to a viable solution for their needs in their mind.
Woody Allen famously said something like, “Showing up is 90% of success”. Well, another 5% at least is being presentable. It makes so much sense it almost does not bear saying; if you are presenting, then how can you not be presentable? What that should mean to you is that every single thing that affects your customer’s perception – and therefore positioning – of you is something you should consider if possible. Take care that every little thing receives your attention before it distracts your customer’s.
Being presentable covers everything from
how you dress, walk and talk to your phone, computer, sales material and
anything else your customer can see or sense in any way. It also means that you
are prepared so that you do not appear to bumble around confusedly or gawk if
the customer asks you for something unusual. Being presentable and being
prepared are all part of a sales techniques mindset and that mindset is that it
is all about the customer. Just like we want their experience of our product or
service to be exceptional, everything leading up to it must be the same.
(Ok, a bit over-the-top but hopefully you get the point!)
I am a big proponent of concepts like “sell without selling” and “close without closing”. The same applied to sales presentations where you should not really be presenting, per se, but conversing. I have talked about the difference between sales and marketing being that sales efforts are generally directed to one person whereas marketing is to many. A traditional presentation – which is basically a speech – should only occur where you have a large audience with whom it is impossible to interact in a one-on-one fashion (which is your goal unless you are mass-marketing a low cost commodity item).
The vast majority of people like talking more
than listening. Your customer is exactly the same and what they like talking
about most is THEMSELVES. Your product or service is only as important as the
extent to which it answers to their needs, wants and problems. Your
presentation selling techniques should begin with questions asking them what they
want to see and go from there. Dole out information in small doses and stop
from time to time to ask whether or not they understand and agree and if they
have any questions (please read some of my articles on qualification for more techniques).
I have written about a formula called Ask, Tell, Ask which can be applied to anything from a job interview to a Fortune 500 sales presentation. I believe that whenever you speak you are actually selling inasmuch you are either communicating what is on your mind or seeking an understanding of what is on someone else’s. Ultimately, your goal is to gain a person's confidence and have them agree with your point of view. Treat your interaction with your customers exactly like a conversation with a good friend or associate. Remember that the very same dynamics are operating whenever, wherever and however people interact.
As soon as you meet your customer at the
presentation venue, part of your repertoire of selling techniques is to offer
your respect and gain their trust. Listen to them, be professional and
courteous and demonstrate that you appreciate their time and the opportunity to
speak to them (actually saying these things to them does not hurt). If you accomplish
absolutely NOTHING else then your primary goal is to connect with your
customer so that they are happy to see you next time. Remember, the desired
outcome of any meeting is another meeting and not a sale. Once you are
comfortable and have established credibility get the customer to open
up and talk. Only afterwards should you “present”...
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