How do you know when it’s time to start your presentation?

clockHow do you know when it’s time to start your actual sales presentation? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was specific time such as 12 minutes into the conversation? You could set a timer on your phone to vibrate in your pocket when it’s time to move into the presentation. If only it were that simple. But it’s not.

We’re selling our wares to people. And no matter how much scientific knowledge we have about human beings, no two selling situations will be identical. Therefore, we have to feel our way along during some of the stages of the sales process. With experience, you’ll get to where you make the transition intuitively. But until then, it’s wise to use a mental checklist of what needs to be accomplished before you’ll have enough information to proceed.

Here’s a list of what I recommend. It’s time to move into your presentation when:

  1. You’ve established a comfortable level of rapport with the potential clients. This could happen quickly in retail situations. It could take up the whole initial visit if you’re selling high-end products.
  2. Your buyers have told you about their basic needs regarding your product.
  3. You have discovered that you’re speaking with people who can make ownership decisions.
  4. The funds are available for a purchase to be made today.
  5. You know which your buyers are most concerned about: value or price.

The last four items above are all part of an effective qualifying process. If you’re in doubt about how ask for that information without seeming abrupt or pushy, you’ll want to read chapter 8 of When Buyers Say No. The information you’ll have gained when all five of those things have been accomplished will tell you how you might need to adjust your presentation, or your product offering, and what negotiation points to expect to use when it’s time to close the sale.

If you jump into your presentation before gaining this knowledge you may end up presenting a product or solution that’s just not right for the buyer.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

The Art of Building Client Relationships

customer relationshipsWhen it comes to building long-term relationships with clients, it’s very similar to building long-term friendships. In kindergarten, children are encouraged to make new friends by talking with others, inviting them to play, and being “nice” to them. They often hear these words: “To have a friend, you have to be a friend.” In many business situations, clients often become more than clients. They become friends…not necessarily the kind you would invite to non-business gatherings, but people you truly care about and who care about you.

There is a feature in a local area newspaper where readers are invited to review their favorite non-franchise restaurant. The articles are wonderful publicity for the restaurants. One of the key elements I see repeated over and over again is that patrons know the names of the owners, hosts and/or servers. And, many of the restaurant workers know something about them as well. They know if the guests prefer coffee or tea with breakfast. They may even remember their favorite meal, asking if they want “the usual.”

Put yourself in the seats of those guests for a moment. How would it make you feel to have your particular favorites automatically placed before you without having to explain your preferences? It would make you feel at home or as if you’re at the home of a good friend…someone who knows you well and wants you to have what you want. They want you to be happy. That type of response is the ideal when it comes to serving your clients’ needs and it can be created no matter what your product or service is.

You may think you’re in the business of selling automotive services, home remodeling or repairs, printing services, financial services, tutoring or signs, but you’re not. Even if your products are sold only to other businesses, the business doesn’t make the buying decision. A person does. You are in the people business and learning to make people feel important and cared about will help you make both the initial sale and long-term sales over the course of time.

Maybe you sell tires, not breakfast. Even so, you should introduce yourself to each client and give your name. Use your clients’ names in conversation during the sales process. Inquire about the use of the vehicle. Does the client have young children or a teenage driver? If so, safety will be an important issue to discuss with them. Do they have a cabin in the woods where some off-road driving is involved? Or, do they travel for business and need “highway” tires? All of these answers help you lead them to the best choice for them. Keeping a record of the answers will help you build long-term relationships.

No matter what your business is, every client should receive your best care during the sales process and after. During the initial sale, get them talking and take good notes. Enter the information into your client database. My colleague Harvey Mackay has a long list of details he requires his salespeople to gather about clients over a certain time period. This includes not just information required to do business, but a few personal details such as birthdays, whether or not they’re married, children’s names, and whether or not they have pets. That information is used to make contacts and to start conversations with clients after the initial sale.

People like to do business with people who are like them, who demonstrate that they care about them beyond making the sale and who keep them in mind when something new that might be of interest to them arises. That type of treatment makes them feel important. They come to rely on businesses and salespeople they know they can trust to have their needs and interests at heart.

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