07 December 2006

It’s all about presentation

Simple strategies for making a good sales presentation

There is no doubt that there are very few methods of advertising as effective as calling on someone directly. This generally means making an appointment and visiting a prospective client. For many people this is an everyday occurrence but for others, it is unheard of and in reality quite daunting.

Most people doing sales calls do them poorly. This is often due to a lack of training and experience. Perhaps your business could benefit from more structured and planned sales calls. For those businesses that employ professional sales staff that are well trained and motivated the results are awesome.

Over the years I have written a lot of business by doing direct sales calls. Sometimes for employers and sometimes in my own businesses. The situation doesn’t matter, neither does the type of business you operate. A prospective customer appreciates you making the effort and if you look after them they will reward you with loyal business for a long time.

There are of course a few important protocols that you should follow when making a direct sales call. Follow these, be patient and you will be amazed at the results. Remember that there are thousands of books written on this subject so if you feel that you would like to pursue this form of marketing spend a few dollars and invest in some. The best sales book that I have ever read was written by Dale Carnegie in 1953, called “How to win friends and influence people”. The title is terrible but the book is fantastic. If you look on the shelves or in the draws of any top performing sales people you can rest assured that there is a copy of this book close by.

A few points to remember when making a sales presentation:

  • Find out a bit about the person or company that you are targeting before you make contact. Being prepared is a major advantage.
  • Make sure that you are talking to right person.
  • Make an appointment and identify how long you will need.
  • Arrive on time, neatly dressed and be organised. If you can’t turn up on time how can the customer possibly be confident that your business could deliver products on time?
  • Look around the office or building for anything of interest that you could start a conversation with. Asking questions is a good way to break the ice.
  • Keep small chat to a minimum and thank the person for seeing you. Don’t be overly familiar and don’t assume that the person you are seeing wants to become your best friend.
  • Explain why you are there and get down to business. Respect the customer’s time.
  • Ask them about their business and their requirements.
  • Outline your product or service (in a few minutes) based on the information that they have given you.
  • Ask for the person’s thoughts or questions as you progress.
  • Don’t talk about sex, religion or politics in any shape or form.
  • If they ask you for more information get it to them quickly and call to make sure that they received it.
  • Leave with a clear plan for the next contact.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask them for their business.
  • Understand that the potential customer wants to know what is the benefit to them – they don’t care about a pile of other information. If they want more information they will ask for it.
  • The final point is probably the most important but the least often done – asking for the business. I have seen thousands of great presentations with bells and whistles, overhead projectors, laptop presentations, glossy brochures and high tech videos but by far the most common fault that sales people have is that they don’t ask for the business, which is of course the whole reason that they are there.At the end of their presentation they pack up all of their gizmos and walk out the door without once ever asking the customer for the business.

By following the above suggestions you will dramatically increase your chances of conducting successful sales calls. Always be prepared, develop a reputation as a sales professional and take a long term view to selling and you will succeed.

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