More than any other single factor, the quality of your sales presentation–its organization and flow–will make the difference in whether or not you get the sale. The objective here is to establish an element of consistency for each sales presentation that you give. Rather than “shooting from the hip,” the key is to be consistent in your presentations to lead the customer to the sale. Winners are always consistent and that is one of the major reasons they are winners.
The second aspect is an organized sales presentation that has a smooth flow and will always produce better results than a presentation that is disjointed. Remember also that according to the study of sales presentations, about two out of three salespeople have no organized sales flow whatsoever … as a result, they are losing sales.
Following is a five-step sales process that you can use every day (without memorizing it!) that can provide you with a consistent track to run on, no matter who you are selling to or what the specific sales environment is. You will find that after using this sales system for a few weeks, the quality of your presentations will increase and you will close more sales. You will also find that after about three to four weeks, this sales presentation will become automatic, your closing ratio will increase, and you will earn higher commissions.
These are progressive steps that you need to go through in order to give a complete and solution-driven sales presentation. This process works.
The pre-call plan’s objective is to have specific goals that you wish to accomplish as the result of your sales call. The pre-call plan is established well before you enter the prospect or customer’s office. Here is a list of pre-call objectives that you could accomplish on a specific sales call (actually many times you can accomplish more than one of these objectives).
- Get the sale
- Provide a “needs analysis”
- Submit a proposal
- Cross-sell new services
- Get referrals
- Solve a customer’s problem
- Arrange another appointment
An old cliché says, “The majority of sales are won or lost in the first ninety seconds.” It’s really hard to prove this statement, but it is known that the vast majority of business people form quick impressions when meeting someone, and then spend the rest of the time justifying to themselves why that first impression was “correct.”
Obviously, it is very important for the professional salesperson to build trust and credibility as quickly as they can. Some salespeople do this naturally; others really need to sharpen their techniques.
The vast majority of people buy from people who display credibility and trust in themselves and for their company. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of all sales are lost because a salesperson has failed to develop trust with the prospect.
Many decision makers want to “know how much you care, before they care how much you know.” Here are some proven methods and techniques you should demonstrate on your sales calls to develop a level of trust and credibility:
- Speak in facts, not opinions
- Look neat and professional in your appearance
- Look people in the eye when you speak
- Use a firm handshake
- Practice good manners
- Be positive and confident in your tone of voice
- Really care about your prospect
- Do what you say you are going to do
- Never exaggerate
- Do not over-promise and under-deliver
- Show sincere appreciation for the prospect’s time
- Be an absolute expert in your field
- Follow up, follow up, follow up, follow up
There are a number of ways to create rapport with the vast majority of the people you are calling on, but the single best ways are to:
- create a common bond between the prospect and yourself
- get the prospect to talk about themselves, their business, their interests, or their family. They will like you because you have shown interest in them first.
Dale Carnegie once said, “You can create more friends in two weeks getting people to talk about themselves than you can create in two years talking about yourself.”
Next is the Probing stage whereby you focus on solving problems for your prospect through asking good questions. Most businesses are different and yet they are the same. They are different because they provide a variety of different services or products to the marketplace. However, many businesses experience similar basic problems which may include …
- how to increase sales & profits
- how to increase efficiency
- how to lower costs
- how to find the top talent
- how to expand their business
You need to focus on solving one or more of these key business problems for your prospect; but in order to find out what the core problems are, you need to be skilled in asking good open-ended questions—not closed-ended questions which can be answered with just a “yes or “no.” Open-ended questions are asked to generate more information from the prospect. More information can expose more problems and you will get a new client when your company’s solutions intersect with your prospect’s problems at a competitive price, which drives value for them to make a decision to purchase from you.
In your sales presentation you should talk approximately 35% of the time and listen 65% of the time. The high-producing salesperson listens because he has generated key questions to stimulate the prospect to talk. Asking questions also shows your prospect that you are interested in them and their business and that you are sincerely interested in finding ways you can help them. In fact, the questions are really the answers.
Good Questions to Ask…
- Tell me about your company.
- Have you ever worked with a company like ours before? What was your experience?
- If you could wave a magic wand, what changes would you make in your business?
- What do you think are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of your business?
- What are some ways you think you could increase your company’s sales?
- What are some ways that you think your company can increase its operating efficiency?
- Who are some of your major competitors and why do you think your business is better?
- What really makes your company unique?
- What are some of the most effective ways your business gains new customers, other than referrals?
As a salesperson you are on a mission to explore the problems of your prospect and how you can provide targeted solutions. Remember Rule #2 in selling is to “solve problems” (Rule #1 is to create “trust”). It’s very similar to being an FBI agent who is trying to discover the keys to a difficult and complex crime—many times your prospect will never have been asked these questions and they will not have the answers readily available. Because of this question and answer process, your sales presentation should be a conversation rather than a glorified sales pitch. You are on a quest as a problem solver to help your prospect, not to just sell them something. People like to be helped but they do not necessarily like to be sold.
Your objective while probing was to uncover a series of problems that your prospect may have. The more problems you can uncover, the more chances you have of providing the correct solution and winning the sale, assuming your solution is perceived to be valuable in the prospect’s eyes. Providing the correct solutions and benefits may sound easy but there are some major problems that occur here in most sales presentations. They are…
- Truly understanding the prospect’s problems or anticipated problems
- Failure to communicate the targeted solutions and benefits your business can provide vs. just the features
Features vs. Benefits
There is a big difference between a feature and a benefit. A feature is a description of a service or product and a benefit answers the question, “What’s In It For Me?”… and how does your business service or product really help my business? The majority of all salespeople talk too much about the features and not the benefits their company can offer. This is the key to sales and the most important sales principle: Explain how your company’s services can really help the prospect with their problems. Again, you need to apply your company’s solutions to their problems. So many salespeople do not connect these “two dots.”
In order to make a winning sales presentation, you need to be able to discuss in detail the major value and benefits of your company for their company. This may sound simple but, again, the majority of salespeople are not good at this. They talk about what their company does and not what benefits they provide.
Secondly, the majority of all businesses really don’t have a U.S.P. – Unique Selling Proposition. They talk about quality and service but all businesses say that, so providing quality and service is not really unique.
In order to provide a winning sales presentation you need to accomplish the following objectives:
What business are you really in?
Another way of saying this is what business are you in vs. what people are buying? There is a big difference here and you need to fully understand the key element—what your customers are really buying. Remember, most people buy from a state of mind—what they believe they will receive as a result of buying a specific service or product.
What is your U.S.P.?
A proper positioning strategy should clearly present a unique selling proposition (U.S.P) for your company to distinguish itself from the very crowded and competitive marketplace. Our company has written hundreds of sales and marketing plans (from manufacturing firms to technology companies to management consulting services) and as part of our auditing process we ask the question to our clients, “what is your company’s unique selling point?” In 90% of the replies we hear the response, “we have great quality and we provide wonderful service.” These could be very true statements, but if nine out of ten companies say the same thing, a U.S.P. has not really been created.
A U.S.P truly has to be unique in order to capture “that space in the buyer’s mind” that makes your company different…and yet few companies have developed this point in their positioning strategy.
As an effective salesperson, you need to represent your company as being unique – and yourself as a unique salesperson who will ultimately solve your prospect’s problems.
When developing a U.S.P for your company it is suggested that you lead with a unique edge in one of these areas:
- Technology / Efficiency
- Service / Service Combinations
- Unique Services
Another idea is to bundle three of these elements and then to communicate this bundle as your unique selling point.
Furthermore, you need to identify a source of proof (such as testimonial letters) that your company truly does have the U.S.P. that you claim it has. When this process occurs you have successfully put your company on a unique platform which separates you from your many competitors. You can sell on this uniqueness versus having the lowest price.
It is suggested that you use a corporate brochure as a guide in your sales presentations. This will keep you on track to make a complete and very benefit-driven presentation.
However, this is not to be a “canned” sales presentation where you read the information, but a presentation that has a smooth flow and again, is benefit and solution-driven and matched to the prospect’s needs.
When a visual presentation is used, the persuasion element can be increased by as much as 40% according to a study by 3M and the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, about 80% of the information we receive comes through our eyes – so a visual presentation can increase persuasion.
The commitment or close is what really counts because no revenue or commission is generated without closed sales. A baseball player may have a great batting stance and swing but the bottom line is that he must get hits or he will not be on the team for very long.
During the last decade, especially in complex selling, far less emphasis has been placed on the hard close than on developing an element of trust and a “solution sales approach.” A few industries known for the hard sales close are the copier and the automobile industries; additionally, these two key industries have the largest turnover in sales staff.
It simply is not necessary to become a hard sales closer, especially since 95% of all buyers do not like high-pressure sales tactics. Rather, buyers like to be helped in a solution-driven manner where they can trust their salesperson. Such a situation enables future repeat purchases, as well. People like to have relationships and buy from salespeople that they like and trust.
Below are some key ways you can achieve more sales by using proven methods of achieving a confirmed commitment from your prospects — without being a hard closer.
Proven Closing Techniques
There are three basic closing techniques that you can use in winning new accounts. First of all, what’s really good about these closing techniques is that they are proven methods. Secondly, these three closing styles do not create a high pressure selling environment between you and the customer.
The “Ask for the Order” Close – “Mr. Prospect, we appreciate your time and your attention. May we have the opportunity to do business with you and your firm today?”
This is the simplest way to win a sale…you just ask permission from the prospect to have the opportunity to do business with them. However, studies show that almost 70% of all salespeople never ask for the order when making a sales call…because of bad habits or perhaps the fear of rejection.
The “Alternative” Close – “Ms. Prospect, we have presented a number of programs that seem to meet your company’s needs. Which seems like the best choice for you?”
This close is fairly easy to use based upon giving the prospect a set of choices that they can make. It implies not if they are going to buy but what they are going to buy. Ideally you would give your prospect two or three different choices and ask which is best for them. This process is very customer-driven and not really that sales-driven because you are asking the prospect what is best for them—not you.
The “Assumptive” Close – “Mr. Prospect, I am pleased that you can see the value that our programs can offer to your business. What is the next step for our companies to be able to work together?”
In this closing process you are looking for a small series of little “yeses” during your presentation, such as nodding their head, asking about payment terms, guarantees, etc. You then assume the sale at the end of your presentation even though they have never actually said “yes, I will buy” but they gave you many small buying signs for you to assume the sale.
“The Halo Effect”
Another effective technique when making a cold call, is to drop the name of a well-known customer with whom you are currently doing business. The majority of all people like to make “safe decisions” where they feel that the decision they make will be good and any mistakes will be eliminated. This is sometimes referred to as the “HALO Effect” meaning if you have done a good job for one company that they know, you could probably do a good job for their company too. A good system for you to use is to develop a list of your top 25 customers whose names you could drop to a prospect. In addition, you can give an example of their special needs as the key to making the sale.
These are commitment techniques that you can use when you are unable to get the signed agreement. The key to any sales call is to absolutely get some form of commitment before you leave the prospect’s office…
- Proposal: this is a detailed sales presentation, which should describe features, benefits, capabilities, costs, and testimonial letters and references. A proposal keeps the sale alive and represents the opportunity to get another appointment in which to close the sales.
- Next Appointment: Before leaving the office, get a definite commitment for a new appointment. It saves you time and again it keeps the sale alive.