How do you handle a sales presentation when a new relationship is potentially worth millions?
Use these four principles to help you and your sales team create a new client relationship.
Imagine my surprise when a national sales manager said to 60 of his top associates, “At lunch, the sales team and I agreed that we have no idea how we managed to sell anything before we met Patricia!” He told me, “It takes a year for us to gain the opportunity to deliver an hour’s presentation to a small group of executives from a prospective client company. At that point a new relationship is worth between five to ten million dollars a year to us.”
I asked, “How long do you spend rehearsing a presentation of this importance?” What I expected Dan to say was, “We spend a week locked in the boardroom. We go over the presentation multiple times and then video and review our performance. We bring in different associates at least 3 times to fire tough questions at us.”
Instead, he said, “If we have a run-through in the back of Joan’s car, we’re lucky.”
Incredible! Remember what Oscar winner Sir Michael Caine said, “Rehearsal is the work; performance is the relaxation.”
It’s common practice for companies in all industries to invest time and money to make sure their sales associates know all about their territories, the company history, the products they sell, and the competitive marketplace. They often stop short, however, in preparing their associates to design and deliver persuasive sales presentations that focus on what their prospects are interested in hearing.
Before you invest the appropriate time in rehearsing your presentation, make sure your presentation structure and focus are right. Here are four principles to help you deliver a successful sales presentation and establish a new client relationship:
1. Find Clarity
Imagine that a busy executive says, “You have exactly ten minutes to tell me what you want me to know about your company.” At any stage of the sales process, you should know in advance what your prospect is really asking. The real question is, “What do I need to know about how your company can improve our company? Will your products or services solve a problem, create new opportunities, increase savings, maximize earnings, simplify our processes, develop our human capital, or increase market share?” At this point, the executive is more interested in their company than yours. When you accomplish this, you are more likely to have the opportunity to present your solutions more formally.
2. Ask Questions
The key to connecting with a prospect is conversation. The key to their being interested in you is having you ask questions rather than talk about your company. The quality of client information you receive depends on the quality of your questions, as well as waiting for and listening to their answers!
A successful encounter early in the sales process probably consists mostly of open-ended questions. These are the kinds of questions that require descriptive answers rather than just yes or no. Don’t rush with preprogrammed questions that indicate you have paid no attention to the answer you just received!
Your job is to work closely with the team or champion that will give you information. Do your research so that your questions about their company are well thought out. Do not be afraid to go deeper. If they want to increase sales, ask, “By how much?” “In the same market or expanding to a new one?” Do they want to improve morale? Ask, “What are the signs that make this a priority?” “What have you done before?” “How great a success has it been?” Will they be upgrading technology? Ask, “How long have you been investigating options?” You need to determine whether they are interested or desperate.
3. Structure Correctly
To keep your prospect interested, you have to prove this premise: “Your company’s condition will be dramatically improved when you do business with us.”
Your talking points and presentation structure will be better received if they are not centered around your company. The “This is who we are, what we do, our unique methodology, and whom we do business with” conversation or presentation outline is not likely to get you very far.
Use all the information you received from your questions to help them know you were listening. Structure the conversation or presentation around their interests, challenges, or opportunities.
Put as many of their words as possible into your presentation. Your prospects will not disagree with themselves. Yes, you will be talking about your company, your satisfied clients, and what is unique about you, but your purpose will be to help them understand how it will specifically benefit what they need to accomplish. With each segment of content ask yourself, “Why would they care?” “Are they nodding because they are interested?” “Can they see how you can solve their challenges and maximize their opportunities?”
4. Remember Storytelling
People rarely remember your exact words. Instead, they remember the mental images your words inspire. Support your key points with vivid, relevant, client success stories. Help them see a movie in their minds by using your satisfied clients as memorable characters. What was their starting situation? Was their problem one your prospect can relate to? How are their results since you worked with them?
The best stories are third-party endorsements that have your clients using much more glowing statements than you could about your company. Endorsement stories should be like a good Hollywood movie: memorable characters with which your prospects can identify, vivid dialogue, and a dramatic lesson about the benefits of doing business with you. When telling those client stories, give them a back-story, add drama, and use actual dialogue that has been edited. Director Alfred Hitchcock said, “A movie is like a life with all the dull parts left out.”
When the Vice President of Sales first called, he said, “Help. We heard you are the best person to help us solve . . .” Always use the client’s words.
His challenge is very similar to yours. The approach we took is similar to what we will recommend for you. What we did was . . . Here you insert the solution or methodology your prospect is most likely interested in. This can be delivered in your own words.
The success is also presented in your happy client’s words. “If John were here, he would say, ‘We would not have believed it possible that we could have . . . You can’t go wrong choosing the Fripp company.’”
When you incorporate these four suggestions, you will have a more compelling sales conversation. Now that you are better prepared, make sure you have multiple rehearsals.
Why not have a conversation with Patricia Fripp to discuss how you can gain a competitive advantage by improving your sales conversations and presentations?
“When we hired Patricia Fripp to improve our sales conversations and presentations my expectations were high.
My hope was everyone in our sales team would walk away with an improved ability to present our ideas, challenger messaging, and communicating as true professionals. Our goal is to make a greater impact and create a memorable experience with clients and prospects. In our industry, Distech is a manufacturer that stands out from the crowd.
Patricia Fripp’s customized approach, before, during, and after with her online learning was superb. Patricia’s ability to excite, inform, and coach our team was impressive. Our sales presentations have and continue to improve.”
– Scott Hamilton, Vice President of Sales, Distech Controls
Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.