Today’s sales environment is like navigating a 60-foot sailboat in a thunderstorm. New demands of a global economy, the immediacy of the internet, increased and hungry competition and most of all a ubiquitous down market make it a treacherous climate. Additionally, salespeople are being asked to plot a winning course through longer buying cycles, increased executive involvement, significant price pressures and the greatest of today’s challenges – no decision. While buyers may be interested in your products and services, budgets are tight, which leaves only the promise of a future sale. For most salespeople “no decision” is often worse than losing the deal to a competitor.
Enter the Sales Presentation
The sales presentation can be the entry point, the turning point or the culminating event of the sales process. In fact, sales presentations are not just “high stakes” anymore; they are “extreme stakes.” And sales professionals in every industry are suffering under the weight of these new demands. As one sales professional said, “I need to be equipped to sell to multiple clients, including the executive, the technical user, a committee, an undifferentiated group and even in an old fashioned competitive ‘bake off.’” That’s a tall order.
To make your next sales presentation meet the challenge of today’s “extreme stakes” you must refocus your approach. The old way just won’t work in this new market. Instead, you must learn to probe the customer with meaningful questions and then listen carefully to the answers.
The keys to consider are:
· Focus on the customer: Identify their business drivers and key initiatives. What are they trying to accomplish short term and long term? What keeps this buyer awake at night? What must you know about the underlying needs of their business? How will you structure your presentation to focus on the customer?
· Ask questions: Pad your presentation with questions, both direct and rhetorical, and make sure you are well prepared and rehearsed. Reach into your customer’s mind and seek understanding. Ask a thought-provoking question or a series of questions as an opening hook and use them throughout your presentation.
· Confirm your understanding: Express what you are hearing so the customer knows that you understand their pressing needs and concerns. Paraphrase in a concise and precise manner to ease your customer’s mind and to confirm your understanding.
· Emphasize the positive results of your involvement in their business outcomes: State how you can help with such things as process improvement, saving money, increasing productivity, etc., rather than just showing off the “fancy features” of your products. Position yourself as part of the solution.
· Be provocative: Identify what is thought-provoking about your solution. Realize that only one of two things moves someone to take action – a direct line to increased revenue and reduced costs or an improvement they can actually see. To get their attention and drive the decision you must be provocative.
Solve Their Problem; Reduce Your Stress
Don’t let the current sales environment blow you off course, causing you to deliver a confusing, overwhelming feature-based presentation. When you provide a solution that helps customers increase revenue and lower costs it’ll be smooth sailing ahead – toward strong business partnerships, your professional goals and personal profits.
Is this challenging market taking the wind out of your sails? Regain control of your sales presentation and close the deal. Join us for our last public seminar of 2009.
Readers of this blog will receive a $200 discount!
Nov. 17 and 18, 2009
The Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel, Palo Alto, CA