Contrary to what you might think – and way beyond what you were probably taught – your presentation is not the most vital step in the buying process.
In fact, your presentation shouldn’t even be a presentation. It should be a response, says sales maven Carol Super. There’s a critical difference.
Presentations often end up as a formal, scripted account of all that your product or service can do for the prospect. Some prospects will be patient enough to sit through it. Some won’t. All will be dissatisfied to some extent. That’s because you’re “making a pitch” and probably trying to get them to respond. Everyone is uncomfortable.
When you follow your impulse to overwhelm the prospect with information about your brilliant product, you risk destroying the rapport that you’ve so skillfully established.
By responding instead of pitching – and only to the prospect’s stated needs – you show your focus is firmly on your prospect and you deserve his or her trust.
A tailored recommendation
Another way of saying this is that your presentation should be perceived as a tailored recommendation based on the prospect’s needs. The prospect should feel that it is part of the buying decision that he or she is participating in. It’s never about “being sold to.”
Of course, it’s hard not to veer back into pitching. That’s your comfort zone. You know your product or service like the back of your hand. So it’s important to continually take the prospect’s temperature by asking questions such as: “Does this look/sound/feel right for you?” “Do you agree?” or“Have I missed anything?”
Taking the prospect’s temperature simply allows you to continue being responsive, and helps build a solid bridge to the close.
Recognizing stop signs
Another key to being responsive is reading buying signals. Lots of salespeople crash and burn when they zoom through a “stop sign” and try to close prematurely.
When a prospect folds his or her arms and says something like, “Well, this sounds good but we can’t do it right now,” the reaction often is to take this signal as a “maybe” and press for a close. Wrong.
Driving through a stop sign makes the prospect think you’re “presenting,” not responding. That is, you’re not paying attention and/or you’re putting your interests ahead of hers. When you see a stop sign, respond by stopping!
Find out why the prospect sent out a signal. Ask whether he or she needs more information, has no budget, is changing marketing messages, or needs to get higher-ups involved.
A success story
Here’s a great example from Super’s own experience. She was meeting an important prospect. At one point the prospect said, “Why don’t you just run me some numbers in 10 markets?”
Super was about to say, “Great, you’ll have it yesterday!” But her colleague, Angie, told the prospect: “You know, I can see that you’re not ready to buy right now. Whenever you are, please call me and I’ll get you any information you need.”
Angie had recognized the stop sign and responded forcefully. The prospect had simply been giving them “busy work” to let them down easy.
Angie’s response took the prospect by surprise. He was impressed by her directness. And a few months later, when the time was
right, he called Angie and became a substantial client.
Source: Carol Super is the author of “Selling Without Selling.” To learn more visit www.carolsuper.com
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