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Sales Solutions
Less Is More vol 8, issue #9
September, 2011

There are many factors that go into generating as much sales revenue as possible - them are personal selling skills, personal drive, a fertile territory, high demand, and effective marketing, to name a few. An additional factor - one we don't often think about - is how efficiently we operate. Efficiency is getting the most out of a given asset. In this case, that asset is time. And since there is a finite amount of working time in a day, a week, a month, and a year, it behooves us to get as much as we can out of those hours, and to waste as little of that precious asset as possible. One area where many sales people operate less than efficiently is in presenting their solutions to prospects. That's because they fall into the trap of providing more information, and more detail, than the prospect needs in order to be persuaded to buy. Doing a "data dump" can stretch a 40-minute presentation into an hour or more. Multiply this by the number of presentations you deliver each year, and it adds up to a lot of time - time that could be spent on working and closing other opportunities.


Contrary to what many of us think, the goal of a sales presentation is not to convey every bit of information about your offering. It's to persuade a person, or group of people, that your solution meets their needs and wants, and does so better than any competitive solution. This is difficult for most sales people to accept, because most of us are gregarious, outgoing, showmen by nature, we're excited about all the things our product or service can do, and we want to share all those things with everyone we talk to. But the fact is that only a handful of features of your product typically need to be presented and demonstrated for people to be persuaded to buy it. The rest are not. This means you need to determine beforehand (during your discovery questioning) what's important to your prospect, and then decide what to include in your presentation/demonstration, and, by corollary, what to exclude.


For example, I'm selling high-end outdoor grills (the kind that sell for over two grand). A prospect shares with me why he's not happy with the grill he's been using for the last two years. "I can cook all the food I want with this thing, but my guests are constantly complaining that the food is overcooked, or undercooked, or not charred properly. It seems the temperature varies widely, and that heat isn't being distributed evenly to all parts of the grill. All I want is a grill that will ensure that when I cook, my guests come up to me and tell me "this is perfect!" I don't care how easy it is to clean, or how easy it is to move around, since it's not going anywhere. I want one that cooks food the way my guests want it cooked."


Based on this information, I'm going to demonstrate the two features of my product that meet this need: the extra-deep sealed burner box, which keeps heat contained for easier temperature maintenance, and the stainless steel flavor generator that - among other things - evenly distributes heat. These two features meet my prospect's expressed needs. I am not going to talk about the durable cast-metal knobs and laser-etched graphics (which I happen to think are really cool), and I most certainly am not going to ramble on about the nonstick porcelain-coated cooking grates that make it easy to clean the grill. Not talking about these - or all the other stuff I could but won't - will save me about fifteen to twenty five minutes. And as we learned above, this discipline - when repeated in other selling situations - can save dozens of hours a year - hours that can be used to do many more (more-efficient) presentations.



ACTION ITEM

The next time you present your product or service, do three things: (1) time your presentation, (2) be attuned to how much of what you're presenting has nothing to with what the people you're presenting to have told you is important to them, and (3) take some time after the meeting to evaluate yourself. Begin even before presenting by doing less telling of what your product can do, and more asking of what the prospect needs it to do (this implies talking less at first, and listening more), and continuing with less uninterrupted presenting, and more interaction with the audience. You'll start discovering that your presentations are not only shorter, but are tighter, more focused, more effective.


Good Selling!



PS: In addition to being a time-waster, "over-presenting" can work against you in other ways, which we'll cover in a subsequent issue of The Sales Solution. Stay tuned.





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