Stop Making Presentations
I believe the term “sales presentation” to be a bit of a misnomer. But because “presentation” is such an ingrained term in sales training, I will often still use it.
However, I prefer the term value conversations.
Allow me to explain.
Like most salespeople, I was trained to make sales presentations. But over the years, I came to believe that term was really quite inaccurate. The term “sales presentation” tends to imply a certain amount of scripting, and telling the prospect why they should buy from you.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. Scripting has its place in a sound sales training program. After all, if you don’t teach a new salesperson what to say, they will inevitably say the wrong thing and potentially lose a sale. But scripting is usually more valuable in the parts of your sales process where certain key phrases can be useful and repeated, such as appointment setting, closing, and handling objections.
As for sales “presentations,” you should have a reasonably specific process outlined that you follow consistently. However, the normal interaction should more resemble a comfortable conversation rather than a memorized presentation.
If your presentation is too scripted, your potential client may get the feeling that you are opening up a set of canned solutions that are exactly the same as those you offered the last prospect with whom you talked. That certainly leaves the perception that you either don’t care about their specific situation or you think you already know everything. Either way, you really aren’t doing yourself or your client any favors.
Instead of sales presentations, have value conversations which include a period of discovery and recommendations. Uncover how and where you may provide the most value to your prospect. Then recommend the products or services that provide that value in the best way.
Do your homework first. Research your potential client as much as possible. Search for information that helps you understand their industry more completely. Read articles on things that affect them now and potential changes or threats that may affect them in the future.
Understand your value proposition completely. Know how to communicate that value proposition from the customer’s perspective.
Then craft great questions that will get your prospect to open up and discuss the challenges they are facing.
In truth, questions during your discovery stage are much more important and should be given more time than the “selling” you do during the recommendation stage.
I am very proud of my career in sales. I had great mentors. I exercised a solid work ethic and a high level of integrity. I learned great skills which allowed my success to come. I did the job well.
“But the undeniable truth is that the better my skill set became at asking the right questions, the less I had to actually sell anything.”
– Jeff C. West
How did I get them to buy from me without selling them anything?
I asked the right questions.
Think about it. Why do customers buy?
Think back about one of your personal buying experiences.
Why did you buy?
In particular, why did you buy that specific product or service from that specific company?
You may have made your buying decision based on the quality of the product. But most likely, quality was only part of the equation. You may have made your decision to buy because of your relationship with the person who brought the product or service to your attention. But that, too, is probably only a glimpse at the big picture.
Even though there may have been many factors that contributed to the process, the real reason you made your last buying decision was . . .
(Drum roll, please: dddddddddddddddddddddddddd.)
Are you ready for this amazing answer?
Here it comes!
I have no idea what your reason was!
But you made your decisions based on your reasons.
Your prospect is no different. They will buy for their reasons.
I found that my success rates increased in direct proportion to my ability to craft and ask great questions. With great questions, I developed the keen ability to get a prospect to verbalize their reasons for wanting something that my product or service could deliver.
When they laid out their reasons for wanting to solve an issue they faced, they were also giving me a road map as to how I could help them the most by providing the solution.
When I focused on the value of helping them solve challenges they faced, I never had to sell anything.
All I had to do is ask them if they wanted my help immediately or in the near future.
Bestselling Co-Author of The Go-Giver, and author of Endless Referrals, Bob Burg, said, “The Unexpected Tour Guide combines an entertaining story with some of the best teaching you’ll ever receive on how to become a hugely successful sales professional.”
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