The 4 P’s of Presenting Products

When presenting products to prospective clients, think of yourself as a match maker. Before this point, you’ve met and gotten to know both parties. You know what they’re looking for in a match. Now, it’s time to introduce them to each other. Granted, when presenting products, they rarely have opinions about where they end up (except in some service businesses). Your goal is to help the buyers see how nicely the product will fulfill a need in their lives or in their businesses.

So, the presentation is a big deal to the buyer. It needs to impress them, educate them, and it doesn’t hurt if there’s a little fun involved with it. To help you prepare a dynamic presentation–one that wins over prospective  clients more often than not, I suggest following the four P’s of presenting products.

  1. Prepare. Be ready to meet the expected challenges in introducing new buyers to your product or service. This involves knowing your product inside and out; knowing the industry; and knowing what the competition has to offer (and is saying about your product.)
  2. Practice. Knowing what to do and doing it are entirely different things. Musicians, athletes and all other professionals practice what they’ll do, say, and play when they perform. Why shouldn’t you? After all, your income depends on your ability to help buyers see the value in owning your offering. Practice with a partner and be willing to accept constructive feedback. No partner handy? Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself delivering the whole presentation (no shortcuts!).
  3. Perform. This is especially important when you’re new to sales, or if you’ve not given any presentations in a while. Practice is great … and important … but nothing beats delivering your presentation to a living, breathing, qualified client. Your friend, your mirror or your video recorder won’t be investing in your product. Get some real-life experience and feedback.
  4. Perfect. The top pros never stop learning from their experiences or from the experiences of others. They are constantly on the lookout for those little nuances or even major overhauls that could provide a better experience for the buyer and better results.

Real success in sales doesn’t require any special God-given talent. You already have the talent. All you need is drive, commitment, discipline and heart.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Who are you helping? Them? Or yourself?

Before each client contact, ask yourself this: Who are you helping? Them? Or yourself? This means giving yourself a quick attitude check. Are you concerned about your production this month? Or, are you more concerned with whether or not you have the right solution for the client?

LS002546When you present an attitude of helpfulness at the beginning of every client contact, you’ll become a top closer in sales. By approaching selling situations with the goal of helping the client, you won’t come across aggressively—and by no means will you be average or typical. And, with a helpful attitude, you’ll knock the dollar signs out of your eyes, which will put the buyer at ease.

I teach my seminar attendees that a salesperson’s income is a scoreboard reflection of the amount of service he or she gives to others. If you’re not happy with your current score (aka income), it’s time to improve the level of service you’re currently providing.

Improving your service begins with taking on an attitude of servitude. It also means taking control of your personal environment. If something that’s going on in your personal life is distracting you from your job, it may show to potential clients. When they feel you’re distracted, they’ll want to extract themselves from working with you.

Don’t risk losing sales or long-term clients because non-career challenges you are facing distract you from providing the service you know you need to deliver. Do whatever it takes to give your clients all that they expect and deserve. They’ll reward you with their business…and referred leads.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

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Get Buyers to Answer Their Own Concerns

The most important “do” of addressing concerns is: Get the other person to answer his own objection. That advice may sound tricky to follow, but here’s why it’s so important: You’re trying to persuade your prospect, so he’ll be likely to have reservations about anything you do or say. Why? Because anything you say must be good for you, too. Until the prospect realizes that you’re acting in his best interest, he will doubt you.

When you say it, a prospective client tends to doubt it. When he says it, the buyer believes it to be true. And that’s why you want to get your prospect to answer his own objections — because he’s much more likely to believe himself than he is to believe you. All you need to do is provide the information that answers his concern and let him draw his own conclusions. You let him persuade himself.

35053You may need to nudge a client a little by asking a question to get him to state the desired answer: “How do you see that feature impacting your company’s level of efficiency, Josh?” It’s much more powerful when he answers than if you just say, “That feature will increase your company’s efficiency by 20 percent.” See the difference? Take advantage of the strategy, and you’ll close more sales because your clients will be convincing themselves.

This technique often works well when you persuade a married couple (children, take note). When one partner objects to something, don’t respond immediately. Average persuaders are quick to defend their offering. But there’s a better way: Learn to sit tight. Many times, one spouse jumps in with the next comment, and you have a 50/50 chance that the originally silent spouse will answer the objection for you. If the second spouse agrees with his partner’s objection, then you know you’ll have to work a little harder to overcome it. The point is that these two people already have a positive relationship (you hope) and trust each other’s judgment. Being quiet while they think it through can cause the objection to evaporate into thin air right before your eyes.

When something important to you is hanging in the balance, being patient is difficult. During such moments, seconds feel like hours, and you can quickly become very uncomfortable. To keep yourself from jumping in too soon, try this trick. Silently count to 20 or 30. Or you may want to count the seconds by saying to yourself, “one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three,” and so on. (Just remember to count to yourself, not aloud.) Some salespeople recite a short poem to themselves to kill that time. Just don’t let your mind wander off from the matter at hand. Whatever method you choose, just be careful not to let them see your lips move.

What you never want to do when you’re waiting for a response is look at your watch or at a clock in the room. Even a slight glance at a timepiece can distract the prospects because they’re already looking at you, waiting for your next move. So practice waiting until you’re comfortable with it.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. Excerpted from Selling for Dummies, 4th Edition (Wiley).

Choosing What to Sell

mallOne of the questions I’m asked most often by people who are new to the selling profession is about choosing what to sell. My answer isn’t what they expect. They want me to tell them to work in a specific industry or to sell the latest “hot” product. But that’s not how it works.

In order to do the job of selling well, you must believe in your product and the benefits it provides to your clients. So, my answer is this, “The best product for you to sell is one that you truly believe in and can speak about with great enthusiasm and, if at all possible, from personal experience.”

  • When you believe in your product and its benefits, you’ll do the work necessary to become an expert on it.
  • You’ll be excited to talk about it.
  • You’ll gain a clear understanding of what type of person or company makes an ideal client for you.
  • And your selling job will be fun.

[Read more…]

Hearing No is Part of Getting to Yes

Champion sales people understand that hearing no is part of getting to yes. Average sales people let every nuance of the word no strike them like arrows and deflate the rest of their sales presentations. Think about how the following comments by potential clients make you feel:

056BZC01“Well, Jim, that new equipment you showed me sure is nice, but unfortunately I’m just going to have to say, ‘no.’”

“We appreciate all the information you’ve shared with us, Mary, but we’re not going to do this right now.”

Those are typical words and phrases sales people hear all day long, every selling day. For average sales people those words signal defeat. The gut reaction experienced when hearing them is an immediate one—of failure and rejection—something sales people go through on a regular basis.

In fact, since rejections are so common, it’s a wonder that so few sales people anticipate hearing them and prepare to deflect the negative feelings they can create. Most sales people just accept those words and the feelings they generate as part of the game of selling.

How often you hear the words and phrases like those above will depend on your abilities and skills as a sales person. But what you do and say after hearing them will make a world of difference in your closing ratio and in your personal bottom line.

Getting to “Yes”

This post is about “yes.” But the starting point is “no.”

The truth of the matter in selling is that very few buyers will say “yes” the first time they’re asked to own a product or service. Yet, the irony is that most sales people are willing to give up and accept rejection after hearing that first “no.”

Think about how you would feel if you heard the words at the beginning of this post.

  • Would you feel the physical effect of disappointment? It’s that sinking, let down feeling. It can be a tired feeling as your formerly pumped-up selling emotions trickle down the drain.
  • Would you mentally stop closing and simply move into “Let’s keep in touch”mode where you decide what to leave behind, what to pack away, and about moving on to your next meeting?
  • Would you say, “That’s okay.” “I understand.” Or, “I’ll touch back just in case you change your mind?”

That’s how average sales people respond. So my question to you today is this: Do you want to be average – or do you want to encourage yourself to become better than that?

There’s a whole lotta selling to be done after you hear the word no. It’s just a matter of understanding the many meanings of the word no, selecting the one this particular client means, and working with it.

When you understand that “no” doesn’t always mean “no sale,” those words will roll off your back like a duck sheds water and you’ll keep paddling forward in the sales process.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Beating Stress for Sales Success

As a salesperson, there are many skills that give you the edge for beating stress:

  1. Persistence
  2. Sales prowess
  3. Finding out and meeting your customer’s wants and needs
  4. Looking the part and
  5. Being organized

These skills are all important and no doubt you’ve got these bases covered. So what else can you do to have more selling success?

Do those things and beat stress. Why is this so important?

Sales FrustrationStress shows in your body language. Your posture, tone of voice, and your very demeanor are all impacted by stress.

And, they are noticed by your potential customers. We humans have the ability to unconsciously pick up on another’s stress levels.  This can make it hard for your customer to relax and trust you. It can be harder to connect and establish rapport when you’re under stress or your clients think you are.

Another way stress impacts selling is that all of your higher faculties are negatively impacted by it. When you are stressed, your problem-solving, creativity, memory, and communication skills are partially “off line.” This can make it harder for you to think quickly and communicate when it comes to resolving concerns.

So what can you do?

  1. Go in the Zone – the Lion Approach

Lions have an amazing ability to block out distraction and focus on one thing: their prey. Even other zebras from the same herd will not distract a pride of lions from the one specific zebra they have chosen. This gives them a much higher success rate when hunting, than if they were to be distracted by every zebra that crossed their paths.

While your customers are definitely not prey, having lion-like focus can help you better communicate. When you go into the selling zone, block out all distractions, any stresses, any frustrations from the office, and just be present with your customer. In this zone you can connect with your customer and use all of your sales skills to your full ability.

  1. Rise Above Stress – the Eagle Approach

When eagles hunt, they rise above obstacles that would stop land animals from reaching their prey. No ravine or valley is too deep, and no mountain is too high for an eagle to conquer.

Likewise, rising above stress by resolving it removes the distractions that could otherwise impact your selling.

When your stress is resolved, going into the selling zone becomes even easier. And, you keep your creative and problem-solving skills throughout the whole day, not just when you are in a selling situation.

Aside from doing the basics (living a balanced life, getting enough sleep, exercising, breathing deeply), these tips will help you to rise above stress:

  1. Notice when you first become stressed. When your stress levels are low, you still have your problem-solving skills and creativity. You are better able to find solutions before problems build momentum.
  2. Learn how to stop stress in the heat of the moment. When you can effectively press pause on your stress response itself, you can think clearly even during times of stress. You feel fine, despite the difficult situation.
  3. Resolve the issues that are causing stress. If something causes you stress repeatedly, it is time to work on the problem that is causing stress. What action can you take to change the situation for the better?

Whether you use the lion approach, the eagle approach, or a mix of both, beating stress will help you be at your selling best.


 

Leo Willcocks is the author of DeStress to Success: Solving Stress and Winning Big in Relationships, Wealth and Life Itself, which is endorsed by Tom Hopkins, Harvey Mackay, Brian Tracy, Stephen M.R. Covey, Doug Wead, Denis Waitley, Sean Covey and others. Find out more at www.leowillcocks.com

The Five Skills Every Sales Person Needs

AA018442While the business of selling requires many skills, there are five skills every sales person needs. And, most of us will need to develop these on our own.

You see, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life is that no one else is going to look out for you as well as you will look out for yourself. To become and remain a professional in business, you must recognize that you are in charge of your own training and act on that fact. Build on your strengths and correct your weaknesses. If you aren’t sure of what to work on first, there is certainly someone in your life who will gladly assist you – your manager, your spouse, your children, a trusted friend.

Here are five skill areas that I strongly recommend you consider developing or strengthening as they have made all the difference for me and my students:

Negotiation

Do you consider yourself a trained negotiator? Trained negotiators can quickly and effectively analyze the details of situations and determine the best route to resolution. If that brief description doesn’t fit you, make an effort to find a book, audio recording or seminar on the subject. Then schedule the time to learn from it. I cover some basic negotiation skills for selling situations in Chapter 16 of my latest book, When Buyers Say NoLook for my recent blog posts on the subject here.

Voice

Since your clients choose to own your products or services based on what you say and how you represent them, doesn’t it make sense that you train your voice to give the highest level of professional presentation? If you’ve never considered voice training before, record yourself giving a portion of your presentation. Then listen to it. Most of us hate the sound of our voices. Just imagine how our clients must feel when listening to us. To project your message with clarity and power, consider at least one session with a voice coach. They can be found in your local yellow pages.

Public Speaking

Many sales professionals find that giving short speeches in their communities helps build their name recognition and their business. Public speaking is also a great way to build your confidence. Try your skills out by speaking to your child’s class about what you do or a hobby you have. Teachers love it when the students can learn first-hand about careers. Join Toastmasters International. There are local chapters in just about every city. They provide excellent opportunities to hone your skills and meet other business professionals with whom you might do business or share referrals. To learn how I prepare for presentations myself, go here >> http://www.tomhopkins.com/p/4207.html.

Memory

Having a good memory is critical to anyone in today’s world, but especially so to those of us who meet many new people every week. I have learned to make a game of it in my career. I challenge myself to remember as many people and their stories as I can. There are some great courses and books written on this subject. Even if you learn and use only one small strategy, I guarantee you’ll reap the benefit of having done so.

Math

Don’t cringe at this. I know that there is a large percentage of people who hate math. However, in business, you need to know some basic math skills really well. How does it look when you take too long to calculate figures? Do you think that will raise any doubts about your competency in the client’s mind? Of course it will. Also, when clients toss out figures in their projections, you have to be quick on the uptake in understanding what that means in your business – quantities of supplies they’ll need, projecting delivery dates and times, and so on.

Practice your math skills. Every time you hear or see a number in a conversation or even in a bit of advertising, take a moment to work with the number and see what it means. Compute unit costs for grocery items – $1.29 for a 2-liter bottle of soda. Convert it to ounces, then figure out how much per ounce the soda is. I know the favorite computation of every salesperson who works on a fee basis is to determine their percentage of every sale. Don’t stop there. Play the numbers game often and you’ll get better at winning.

Choose just one of these five areas and dedicate yourself to improving in it this month. Then, next month, choose another. Once you get started on this journey of self-education, you’ll be amazed at what you learn and how simple things can have a powerful impact on your overall success in life.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. For reprint permission, contact Judy Slack – judys@tomhopkins.com.

I learned 3 things last weekend

Life is a learning experience, isn’t it? Even though I’ve been teaching and training others for 40 years, I learned three things last weekend. This time last week my staff and I were traveling from Phoenix to Las Vegas for our first-ever 2-day Sales Academy. It was held at The Las Vegas Tropicana Hotel–right on the strip. We had mixed feelings about how well people would study with all the distractions, but also felt that having the program in a fun, destination would be a nice reward for them after all their hard work.

  1. Today’s young people are serious about training. The demographic of our audience was younger than usual. And they were not attached to their phones. They were active listeners and participants in the training. They were excited to be there and networked like pros. Their spirit was invigorating and made me optimistic about the world’s perception of the profession of selling in the future.
  2. The F-words apply to all types of situations. No matter how well you prepare for an event (or a sales presentation) something is likely to happen to take you off track or to impact your timing. The more details you add to your plans, the more likely one or more of them will cause challenges. So you must remain Flexible and be prepared to adjust your plans to something different that is Feasible.
  3. No matter your job level, you can provide extra-ordinary service, thus making a difference in someone’s life. The staff at the hotel was phenomenal! It was almost eerie how they anticipated our needs and cared for our attendees as much as we did. Even the folks who serviced the water stations and cleaned up the room during breaks had huge smiles for everyone. Sweaters and jackets left behind were neatly folded or gently draped over chairs. Their 1st class level of service made each of our guests feel important. And isn’t that what selling is really all about?

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

What Free Throws and Sales Have in Common

Wally LongYou might wonder what free throws and sales have in common. According to basketball expert, Brian McCormick, Tim Duncan has a problem – a consistency problem. While you don’t hear much about it, Duncan only shoots 60 to 70% from the free throw line, despite being one of the NBA’s best players. What’s really interesting, however, is WHY Duncan struggles from the line.

According to McCormick, it’s because Duncan added movements to his shot that actually over-complicate his shot making. McCormick says Duncan “comes to the line and takes a deep breath with the ball near his waist and his hands on the side of the ball. To shoot, he rotates the ball DURING his shooting motion. His shot, therefore, has a natural flaw; he incorporates inconsistency into his shot. Instead of simplifying, he adds a greater degree of variance which results in his poor (below 70% career) free throw shooting.”

The solution to better performance for Duncan is the same solution for us in sales and business development: Simplify the process and leverage the Power of Consistency.

Oftentimes in sales and business we overcomplicate the process and fail to do the little things on a consistent basis. Instead of focusing on doing just one or two things exceptionally, we become obsessed with doing everything perfectly. The result is frustration and lackluster sales performance. The key to success in sales is to identify one or two small things we can do well and do them consistently.

As the incomparable Jim Rohn once said, “Success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

I once grew a small company from $0 to $20,000,000 in 60 months by focusing on doing one simple thing extraordinarily well – one simple thing done on a consistent basis. That one thing was using the Tom Hopkins’ “intent statement” on every sales opportunity. I focused on using this technique on EVERY call. I didn’t use it occasionally. I didn’t use it when I felt up to it. I used it consistently on EVERY CALL.

Because the intent statement sets the ground rules for the sales call with the prospect and because it creates the expectation that the call will come to a completion at a specified point, I didn’t waste time chasing down deals that were never going to happen. I didn’t get strung out by prospects who didn’t have the courtesy to “just say no.”

As a result, I moved from sales opportunity to sales opportunity without the brain damage of looking over my shoulder hoping that older calls were going to magically turn into sales commissions. I stayed focused. I kept my attention ahead of me instead of being distracted by the past.

The key was using this technique on every call. The key was consistently doing one small thing exceptionally well and doing it every time. The key was focusing on one thing and doing it well on a consistent basis.

Far be it from me to give NBA great Tim Duncan advice; but if he asked (which I seriously doubt he will) I would tell him to focus on two things: simplicity and consistency. Keep it simple and do the little things on a consistent basis. It works in sports and it works in sales and business development.

Copyright Weldon Long.

Weldon Long is a New York Times Best-Selling Author, successful entrepreneur, and powerful speaker who inspires and teaches others how to prosper in the face of adversity. Mr. Long has developed his success philosophies in the real world, having overcome a life of poverty and desperation and building his own company from $0 to $20,000,000 in sales in just 60 months. In 2009, his company was selected as one of Inc. 5000 Magazine’s Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in America.

After buyers say no

There can be an awkward moment when buyers say no after you’ve asked your closing question. The sales process has been sailing along smoothly with you asking good questions and the buyers giving good answers. Based on their answers, you’ve guided them to just the right product for their needs. Their no feels like you’ve just run into a stop sign that was planted in the middle of the road.

Several things may have just happened: [Read more…]