You’ve been there before. A forced laugh. A too-frequent smile or smiles that don’t reach the eyes. As you’re stumbling over words, the sudden desire to flee begins to slip through your consciousness. Then…an empty feeling in the pit of the stomach surfaces out of nowhere. Quickly, you change the direction of your presentation.
You’re over your head because preparing was an after-thought.
An IDC study reveals
“57% of sales professionals were either not or somewhat prepared.”
I could give you lots of tips about how to prepare, but the bigger issue is, why don’t you prepare? It could be the difference between sales savvy or sales boring.
It WILL be the difference between winning or losing the sale.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I pound hard the message of preparing. I believe you know how to prepare.
But why aren’t you doing it? That’s the question you should be asking.
Is it procrastination or laziness? Not holding yourself accountable or an inflated ego?
Before you cock your head to the side with wariness…trust your gut feeling.
You know the real answer.
Are you willing to look at the real answer?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a photographer shooting pictures for a client or a software account executive, preparing is the most overlooked key to every lost sale.
Winging it doesn’t win sales.
Making follow-up calls on the fly doesn’t win sales.
According to a 2013 study by Forrester Research Inc.
“Yet executive buyers tell us that only 20% of the salespeople they meet with are successful in achieving their expectations and creating value. Only one in four of these salespeople get agreement from executive buyers to meet again.”
Forrester Research asked
“Are vendor salespeople frequently prepared for your meetings in the following ways?”:
Statistic: Prepared for the questions I ask- only 30% of salespeople.
Sales Savvy starts with preparation
Last week I was asked to do a presentation on an insurance product to a room full of financial advisors. Oh….and I had one day to prepare for a product I never sold or knew existed! As I tried not to panic, I asked myself…
How can I present so I’m not another person droning on about an insurance product that by all accounts is as boring as watching paint dry.
With less than 24 hours to become an expert on a product, I knew nothing about-I set out to prepare in a different way.
When my name was announced as the next presenter, I open with this bold statement.
“Full disclosure: You know more about this product than I do. (Pointing to the advisors with a sweeping motion)”
“Who has sold this product, will you raise your hand?”
A dozen or so advisors slowly raised their hands.
“Thank you! This is an interactive presentation, so I’d like to invite you to help answer questions.”
I knew I couldn’t fool them. I opted to be bold and honest about my shortcomings and it worked. The questions and answers were lively discussions. Many advisors stepped up to give advice, share insights and offer suggestions on how to sell the product.
At the end of the presentation, advisor after advisor shared it was the best product training they’ve attended.
Now, this may be an extreme example. Yet it illustrates that preparation can take the form of many different strategies.
Here are the lessons:
- Know your audience and play to their strengths (whether it’s a presentation or a sales pitch)
- Have a back-up plan. (I had prepared someone in the room to be my backup answer man if no one volunteered)
- Prepare questions to ask the buyer based on your product benefits. (Several questions that were asked during my presentation came from me based on the product’s benefits.)
- Instead of overcoming objections, manage objections by aligning yourself with the buyer and asking questions based on the objection.
Example: One objection that came up in the presentation was the cost of the product. (I love price objections!)
Answer: “I hear what you’re saying. Everyone is concerned with price these days. Let me ask you this question, Do you agree the product fills in the gap for what potentially could cost thousands of dollars in medical costs?”
You get the drift. Align with the buyer then ask a question that aligns with a product benefit.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re presenting a sales pitch to 3-4 decision makers or an individual client, or at a podium-prepare for the unexpected. Prepare to be different. Prepare to give them a memorable experience.
This is what separates you from being sales savvy or sales boring.
Begin today conditioning for the task in advance, sacrificing what is needed to achieve the desired result. Being savvy at selling takes work, openness to hear the buyer, and doing or saying things outside your comfort zone without anxiety or concern.
When you ARE prepared, you know the feeling-a sense of calm and ease. AHHHHH, a deep satisfying sigh. The buyer can see confidence. Your relaxed appearance, direct eye contact will let the buyer know he is dealing with the right sales professional!
Today, when you prepare for the next sales conversation, presentation or sales meeting-apply some of these sales savvy tips. When you do, you’ll project an expression of supreme confidence, a glow. And you’ll revel in the contentment that YOU did the work.
Let me know how it turns out. I’d love to know in the comments below!