“The ALZ Platinum 1700 is an outstanding product. It is equipped with the Xenol Power Booster and Sky-Top Infrared scanning system. Plus, our patented XLT cooling system has also been integrated into the existing refractory circulator.”
Did you understand this?
Neither did I.
It’s not uncommon for sales people to use industry jargon or techno-babble during a sales conversation. This is akin to speaking in tongues or a foreign language because most people you deal with don’t speak this language. As a result, they won’t understand how they will benefit from the product you are recommending.
The best sales people discuss their products and services in terms that each customer will understand. Although this sounds easy, many sales people find it difficult to execute.
During a sales training workshop I conducted a participant stated that his customers NEEDED to hear the name of each features of his product. When asked why, he replied, “So they know why my products are better than my competitors.”
Reciting the names of your products or its features does not explain why they are different or better than your competitors. Explaining how they impact or affect your customer does.
Make it easy for your prospect to understand the value of your solution and avoid speaking in tongues.
When I was a kid I remember hearing someone say that the best way to tell if spaghetti was cooked was to throw a piece on the wall, and if it stuck, the pasta was cooked.
Some sales people use this approach when they sell.
They take their product catalogue, plunk it down in front of their customer, and begin to flip through the pages, hoping that something will catch the other person’s eye.
Others tell their prospects EVERYTHING there is to know about their product, service or offering to ensure that something will “stick” with the prospect.
This common approach is seldom effective.
When I worked in consumer electronics, I saw numerous sales people talk incessantly about the features of a particular product because they mistakenly believed that every customer NEEDED to know that information.
On a personal note, when we bought windows for our house, the sales person felt compelled to tell us information about his company that we had already researched and knew. And he continued his monologue even AFTER we told him we weren’t interested.
But most people don’t want this much detail.
They don’t have time.
They aren’t interested.
I once watched a video with Brian Tracy who said, “Every time you talk about something that is irrelevant to your customer, the more their desire to buy drops.”
You might feel that explaining everything your product or solution can do increases its value. However, the reality is that most people are only interested in a few benefits of your offering.
Here’s a suggestion for your next sales call, meeting or presentation…
Open by asking, “What’s the most important thing you need to know today?”
It doesn’t matter if you have done an accurate pre-meeting assessment of their needs or situation.
Find out if what you are about to present is relevant and on-point. If not, then modify your approach and make the necessary changes to ensure that your prospect’s most pressing questions get answered.
I’m sitting on a plane and the man next to me is creating a PowerPoint presentation. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of his presentation is but the slides look dull and boring and laden with details and information.
Sure, he’s using bullet points and the occasional graphic but his slides aren’t interesting or visually appealing. Plus, his presentation is black on white (think overhead slide!) and he is also showing some revenue and expense figures similar to a balance sheet.
I resisted the compelling desire to lean over and say, “Dude, you really need to spice up that presentation.”
The vast majority of sales presentations I have watched, attended and been subjected to miss the mark, especially when people use PowerPoint.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind if you want to create a PowerPoint presentation that catches and keeps your prospect’s attention.
1. Limit slide content.
The general rule of thumb is 6 bullet points with no more than 6 words per point. I personally like to limit each slide to one key point and use it a talking point; however, I do create some bulleted slides in some of my sales presentations.
2. Include ONLY relevant content.
Forget about trying to explain every single product or service you offer or talking about the awards your company has won, who your clients are, or other self-aggrandizing information. As Sergeant Friday used to say, “Just the facts.”
3. Never, ever start with slides about your company.
That’s the most common approach and fastest way to lose someone’s attention. Instead, make your first slide about the prospect and your understanding of his or her potential problem or current situation.
4. Use the reveal feature.
Don’t show everything all at once because people will read ahead and tune you out. Use the animation feature to reveal each point as you present it. However, avoid using cutesy animations, sounds or character enhancements. Keep it simple.
5. Skip the corporate logo.
I know many of you will fight me on this issue; however, I firmly believe that your logo has little or no effect on a prospect or customer. The only exception to this rule is if your slides will be given to people who weren’t at the original presentation. My suggestion for this is to add a footer with your contact info to each slide and add a closing slide with your logo and contact details.
6. Use vivid graphics.
There are plenty of great low-cost websites where you can get eye-popping graphics that will stand out. Avoid using the standard pieces of clip art and images that are included with MS Office.
7. Use PowerPoint as a guideline for your presentation.
I like using PowerPoint in a face-to-face sales meeting because I use each slide as a talking point. But, I don’t use it as my presentation. If everything went wrong and I couldn’t use PowerPoint I would be okay.
8. Lastly, take time to rehearse.
I NEVER deliver a sales presentation without running through it at least once beforehand. The more important the sales opportunity, the more times I practise. I have consistently found that the more time I invest in this step, the more successful my meeting turns out..
PowerPoint is a very easy piece of software to use. Unfortunately, too sales many people use it incorrectly and end up subjecting their prospects and customers to dull, boring sales presentations.
Here’s a thought…
As you review the presentation, ask yourself if you would find the presentation catchy and interesting if YOU were on the receiving end. If not, you need to make some changes.
BTW: If you live the GTA and would like to learn how improve your productivity when creating PowerPoint presentations give my business partner a call. She can show you how to create a more effective presentation in MUCH less time. On average, she can cut your development time by at least 30%. Check her out.
Could your team use some help improving their sales presentations? I might be able to help. Call me and we can discuss a program that will help you achieve your objectives. 905-633-7750 or Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca.
Last Friday I had the good fortune of speaking at a conference in Puerto Vallarta. As it turned out there were only two English speaking presenters at the entire conference so our speeches were translated via simultaneous interpretation. This meant that we needed to ensure our presentations could be easily translated and understood by the audience.
This sounds like an easy task; however, I have learned that phrases, slang and idioms that are common in North America don’t always translate effectively into another language.
So, how does this applies to sales?
Too often sales people use jargon, technical terms, acronyms, and other language that sounds foreign to their prospect or customer.
When I worked in consumer electronics, sales people constantly referred to product numbers when talking to customers. Because they worked with the products every day, they were familiar with the SKU numbers but their customers were not.
When you deliver a sales presentation (formal or informal) it is critical that you ensure that your presentation doesn’t get lost in translation. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing the other person’s attention, or worse, alienating them.
Before every sales call or meeting you need to consider the person(s) you’re speaking with, their level of knowledge and expertise, and their position. Then you need to adapt your approach accordingly.
Unfortunately, most people don’t think about the presentation from their prospect’s perspective. They forget that the other person may not understand the terminology. They don’t realize that their prospect may not be familiar with common acronyms or other jargon.
Take the time to simplify your approach before every sales call, appointment or meeting. Eliminate jargon, acronyms and other language that may sound foreign to the other person.
Make it easy for your customer or prospect to understand you and your presentation won’t get lost in translation.
Looking for a speaker for an upcoming meeting? I deliver keynote presentations and training workshops for any size group. Call me and we can discuss your specific objectives. 905-633-7750 or Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca
However, most sales people don’t take the time to reflect on their sales calls, meetings or presentations. However, a few moments of quiet reflection immediately afterwards can reap huge rewards.
Here are three questions to ask yourself after every sales call, presentation, or meeting.
What went well?
It is important to evaluate the positive aspects of your sales calls. Reflect on your last call and identify the things you did well. This can include creating a compelling opening, building rapport, asking the right questions, or gaining agreement for the next steps.
What did I miss or forget to do?
Even though I have been teaching sales for more than 15 years I still miss or forget to do certain things during a sales call. When you ask this question you can identify patterns in your approach that cost you sales.
What can I improve?
It’s one thing to analyze your current results. However, if you want to improve your results you need to identify EXACTLY what you will do differently in future sales calls. Determine one or two specific action steps you need to take based on your answers to the previous question.
On the surface it sounds simple. However, most sales people seldom take the time to analyze their performance.
Here’s a key that will make a difference…
Record your answers and review them periodically.
When I first started conducting sales training workshops, I would ask myself these three questions at the end of every program and I jotted down my responses. Several months later, I reviewed every answer and noticed several patterns especially for the second question.
I was somewhat surprised by the trend I noticed but this information gave me the insight I needed to improve the quality and impact of my sales training workshops.
When you take the time to regularly analyze your sales performance, you will quickly see patterns, especially if you record your thoughts and observations.
You can then take action to correct bad habits which will lead to an improvement in your results.
Years ago in the corporate business world the more information you provided the better. If you needed something a huge business case and proposal was expected. However, in the last decade, and especially the last 2-3 years, that has changed.
Less is the new black.
The fewer words, pages or time you need to get your point across the more likely someone will listen to you. This definitely applies to sales meetings, calls, appointments, and conversations.
Too many sales people think they need to tell their prospect or customer EVERYTHING about their product or service when, in fact, the other person only wants (and needs) to hear the key points that relate to their specific situation.
Here’s what you do…
When you’re planning your next sales call, meeting, presentation, etc., (you do plan them, right?) carefully review the information you plan to discuss. Then, remove anything that is not absolutely essential for your customer or prospect to know.
Remember, it’s not what YOU want to present, discuss or talk about…it’s what they NEED to know in order to make a buying decision.
Would this concept help your team increase their sales and improve their results? Give me a call and we can discuss (briefly, of course) the best way to make this happen. Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca
There are many highs and frequent lows. Constant pressure to reach sales targets, customer and prospects that are more demanding, and changes in the marketplace all make sales a tough career.
If you are serious about maintaining a long-term career in sales, here are 14 things you should never stop doing. If by chance, you haven’t started doing some of these, I suggest that you do start…the sooner, the better.
If you do nothing else but prospect for new business every day the chances are you will always be busy and seldom, if ever, experience peaks and valleys in your sales.
2. Improve your skill.
Professionals in many industries require regular upgrading up skills. Selling is no different. The marketplace has changed and what worked five years ago is no longer relevant. Make the time and invest in regular self-improvement programs (workshops, conferences, books, audio programs, etc).
3. Listen more than you talk.
People who listen more, learn more. The more you learn the more effectively you can position your solution or offering. Enough said.
4. Establish clear call objectives.
Whether it’s a face-to-face meeting or telephone call, you need to have a clear objective of what you want to accomplish. Closing the sale is NOT an objective.
5. Create plans (yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly).
I know very few sales people who actually create a business plan for the entire year. What sales do you want to achieve? How will you reach those targets? What daily, weekly and monthly activities do you need to execute to achieve your goals?
6. Study your products.
How much time do you spend studying and learning your products? Do you know the key differences between similar products? Do you know how each product will actually benefit a customer?
Effective sales networking means attending the events that your key prospects attend, not the events you enjoy going to. A friend of mine deals with high-ranking executives so he attends high-profile fundraising dinners. The cost of entry can be expensive but the return can be excellent.
8. Ask awesome questions.
I’ve mentioned this…more than once! But the ability to ask great questions, tough probing questions…penetrating questions, is one of the most effective ways to increase your sales.
9. Deliver great presentations.
Don’t confuse this with the ability to stand up in front of several hundred people and deliver a keynote presentation. The key to delivering a great sales presentation is ensuring that it addresses your prospect’s key issues and that it focuses on their needs and objectives, not your agenda.
10. Adapt your approach.
Do you ever consider the personality style of the other person when planning your sales presentation? Do you know if your prospect prefers correspondence via email, texting, face-to-face or telephone? Is your prospect a 35,000 foot view person or do they like to know every detail? Adapt your approach accordingly and you will increase your sales.
11. Set high goals.
People with the highest goals tend to achieve more. Are your goals challenging and motivating? Do you even set your own goals or do you simply take what’s given to you by your boss?
12. Be persistent.
Four or five years ago it would take an average of seven calls to connect with a new prospect. Now it’s a safe bet to say that it can take as many as twelve or more, just to make that first contact. You need to be diligent and persistence.
13. Forge relationships.
Developing and maintaining great relationships with prospects, customers, friends and other people in your network is one activity that will ALWAYS pay off.
14. Show respect.
I have seen, firsthand, how poorly some sales people treat gatekeepers and receptionists and it always disappoints me because I am a firm believer in treating people with respect and dignity. Yes, that person may only be the receptionist in your eyes but they often hold the key to the Presidential Suite. Treat them accordingly.
What do you think? Are there other things that sales people need to keep doing that aren’t on this list?
Does your team need some brushing up on these activities? Maybe I can help. Contact me and we can discuss the best way to achieve this.
Did you ever refer to or use Cliff Notes when you were in school?
Cliff Notes are officially classified as “student guides to literature”. However, many students used these greatly abbreviated versions of books to understand an entire book in a fraction of the time.
Most salespeople could use this approach and concept especially when dealing with corporate executives.
I recently heard the CEO of a company say, “I have ADD so you have about eight seconds to get my attention.” Pretty harsh words but let’s look at things from their perspective for a minute.
Decision makers are exceptionally busy and assuming you can catch their attention; you also need to deliver the rest of your presentation in a clear, concise manner.
Forget about discussing every aspect of your solution or offering.
These people have no patience to sit through a lengthy sales pitch particularly if the solution is not relevant to their situation. Highlight the key points and discuss the rest of the information only if requested.
Stand out from your competition by delivering a Cliff Notes version of your solution.
Could your sales team benefit from this concept? Call me and we can discuss the best way to implement it in your company. 905-633-7750 or email me.
My youngest daughter recently expressed her frustration about one of her college classes. It seems that the instructor’s preferred method of teaching is to read directly from the text book.
He doesn’t engage students in a conversation. He doesn’t make them think. Instead, he subjects them to a legal form of torture and he lectures to them for the entire class. Hasn’t he learned that there is a more effective way to teach?
Unfortunately, many sales people use a similar approach, too.
I have seen far too many sales people walk into a prospect’s office, fire up their laptop, and read from their PowerPoint presentation. Verbatim. With no other insights or interaction. A one-way “push” of information.
If you use this approach you may as well email the presentation to your prospect and tell them to call you if they have any questions. FYI: They won’t call because they won’t actually watch your presentation.
Subjecting them to this type of approach is a complete waste of your time.
I’m not suggesting that you never use PowerPoint. Just the opposite in fact. I think PowerPoint can be used to create a very compelling sales presentation. The key is to not force a prospect or customer to sit through a long boring presentation.
Use your slides to create a two-way dialogue. Don’t lecture to them. Capture a key point on each slide and use it to have a meaningful conversation with your prospect or customer. Don’t spend your allotted time talking about your product, service or offering. Use your time wisely and engage your propects in a conversation.
It sounds simple but the vast majority of your competitors don’t take this approach which gives you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and increase your sales.
At a recent industry conference, I saw and heard several different sales presentations as sponsors of the conference presented their products and services. Unfortunately, most of them missed the mark. But they are not alone; most sales presentations are ineffective.
Having been subjected to dozens of sales presentation over the years, I have discovered that most sales people fail to deliver a great presentation. Yet, delivering an effective sales presentation is critical if you want to increase your sales.
Here are few key points to consider as you prepare for your next sales presentation.
Start with impact.
Don’t waste valuable time talking about your company or your products, services or solutions. Instead, demonstrate that you understand your prospect’s pain, problem, concern or issue. This will capture their attention. One of the most fatal blunders sales people make is to spend the first five to ten minutes of their presentation talking about their company. I have heard far too many sales people tell prospects how long they have been in business, about the awards their company has won, or what makes them different. But this approach does little engage the prospect because it does not address their key concerns.
Show, don’t tell.
Whenever possible, use props in your presentation. Instead of telling your prospect the results you can help them achieve, show them what you do. During the conference I mentioned at the beginning of this post, one sponsor showed an example of her work to help people connect what she was saying to an outcome. As she said, “I can help you develop marketing materials,” she held up a brochure, a postcard, and a letter she crafted for a client.
Third party testimonials are one of the most powerful presentation tools you can use. Consider the late-night infomercial. The proven formula consists of identifying the problem followed by several testimonials that state how much better life is since using that particular product. You can use this approach, too by showing your prospect a testimonial letter or video that outlines a key outcome that is similar to a situation they may be facing.
Change your focus.
Most sales people fail to make the sales presentation about the other person and use a lot of “I” or “me” or “we” language.
But your customer doesn’t care about you. They want you to talk about them. They want to know how you, your product or service will help them solve a problem.
Before you actually deliver your presentation or present your business case, run through it to make sure that everything focuses on the prospect, their business, their company, and their problems. If possible, rehearse it at least one time and record it so you can hear exactly what you say and how you say it.
Show the ROI.
Also known as the WII-FM theory—What’s In It For Me? Every sales presentation MUST focus on how your customer will benefit from using your product, service, solution or company. Will your product or service reduce expenses, improve productivity, eliminate errors, shorten shipping time, or increase sales? When possible use figures, numbers, dollars or percentage to demonstrate actual results. However, make sure that it is easy to understand the bottom line. The less you try to “sell them” and the more you focus on helping them solve a problem, the more you will stand out from your competition.
Address the risk issue.
Virtually every new prospect you meet with has some concern about using your product, service or company or about changing vendors or suppliers. In today’s tough sales environment, it is essential that you address this in your presentation. Don’t ignore it!
Here is how you do it…
Ask your prospect, “What concerns, if any, do you have about changing vendors?” This demonstrates that you recognize that they may be concerned about switching suppliers. It can instill confidence, and in many cases, it will uncover additional information you can use to improve your presentation.
Pause briefly before offering a reason why it makes sense to make the change. This is much more effective than simply telling your prospect why they should do business with you. It separates you from most of your competition.
Consider these five strategies as you plan your next sales presentation. They WILL make a difference.
Did You Know…
I’m available to speak at conferences, sales meetings, association events and retreats. If you’re planning an event this year, call me and we can what type of program would work best for you and your team. Here’s a brief video of a live presentation: http://bit.ly/ef5P5l