I spent two days with a great new client this week. These were bright people who knew their product cold but wanted to increase their closing ratio. As a result, they asked me to help them with their sales presentations. Smart move! The presentation is where the rubber meets the road in sales and a small improvement can yield significant results.
One of the steps I am passionate about is probing the prospect to find out what they want to hear in the presentation. After all, it’s not important what we want to say if it is not what the prospect wants to hear. Studies have shown that the effectiveness of training increases by as much as 35% when you ask the trainee what they want to learn. I believe the same thing is true in sales presentations. Involve the prospect and the learning will increase.
As I was going through the steps, one guy raised his hand and said, “Steve, I’ve tried that and they won’t tell me. As I start my program, I ask them if there is anything special that they want me to cover. Most of the time, they say, ‘No’ and ask me to continue.”
Sure they do. They are in listening mode and ready to listen.
So when are they not in listening mode? How about when you planned the sales call? When you set up the meeting, what would have happened if you asked, “Mrs. Howard, I want to be sure this presentation makes the best use of your time. Please tell me what issues are critical to you so I can be prepared to answer them.”
What would they say?
Can you imagine a prospect saying, “I’m sorry Jill, but I really just want to hear your standard presentation. Don’t do anything special for me.” Or, “Bob, I’m really excited about sitting through your standard Power Point presentation. Bring it on!”
Timing is everything and you may need to ask more than once to get the answers you need. Ask early and ask often. When the prospect feels the presentation will be customized and relevant to their needs, they will pay attention. In fact, they may even invite more people to attend.
Selling is about preparation and that is especially true in presentations. Make the call. Ask the questions. Give your best presentation ever and close that big deal.
Steve Waterhouse is Principal and Founder of Predictive Results (www.predictiveresults.com), a sales consulting and training company that helps companies dramatically increase their sales. He can be reached at 904-269-2299 or www.predictiveresults.com.