When Buyers Interrupt You

One of the primary frustrations in selling is when buyers interrupt you. Granted, you are there to serve their needs. However, as a pro, you’ve pre-planned a presentation that will both educate and motivate your buyers. It has a certain flow to it that builds from one point to the next, right?

I do teach that we need to be flexible when giving presentations by sharing only what the buyer needs to hear rather than giving the exact same presentation to buyers with unique circumstances. That doesn’t mean you let the buyer run the show. As a pro, your job is to gain and maintain control of the entire presentation. By not taking control of interruptions, you’re letting the buyer control the sale. You must do your best to stay in control with the methods I’m suggesting here and by asking questions that direct the presentation back on course.

One of the ways to prevent interruptions is to set the stage in advance of your presentation. Consider giving your potential client a pad and pen. Explain that there’s a reason for the flow of your presentation, and that is to provide information and answer questions that typically arise. Suggest that he jot down thoughts that come to him during your presentation and at the end you’ll both look them over to see if you’ve covered everything. This allows you to take control, but also allows them to feel all of their questions will be answered. It will lessen their desire to interrupt you.

If you are interrupted say something like this: “I can appreciate your question. Let me make a note of that and cover it at the end of my presentation. The information I’m about to share might just answer all of your questions as we proceed.” Then go on with your presentation. You have sidestepped their interruption but honored their need to have something specific addressed. And, you have retained control of the flow of your presentation.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Learn more about this strategy and others like it by reading When Buyers Say No.

Two Couples, Two Sales Approaches

Never talk down to anyone. Here are situations with two couples, two sales approaches.

A young kid with a GED deserves just as much attention and respect when he walks into your showroom as a Summa Cum Laude CEO. Without talking down (or up) to either, you can adjust your presentation according to the needs of each. Become a quick study on what level of language to use by paying close attention to the words your buyers use.

What does that mean?

Let’s look at two different couples walking in to your store to buy a new refrigerator. Couple number one is a retired man and his wife who want to replace their 20-year old fridge. The words “fixed income” probably come to mind. We’ll assume you’ve asked a few qualifying questions to determine their specific needs which are likely to center around economy. Therefore, you’ll want to discuss such topics as dependability, low energy costs, longer food storage capabilities which stretch a food budget and perhaps a service plan that can eliminate unexpected repair costs.

Couple number two is young and just starting out. Would you use the same approach? No. You would accent the features and benefits that apply to their specific situation. The features on the unit may be the same, but you will present the benefits in a different light, one viewed from their perspective. For example, they may be cost conscious, like the older couple, and want to look at lower-priced models. You even may refer them to the same model the other couple chose, but you would handle it differently as they may be more interested in features such as outside water and ice dispensers, sections with adjustable temperatures and so on. You may even win them over to a larger model with a higher investment when they realize the longevity of the higher quality brands. The slightly greater investment they make now will likely be offset by the replacement cost they’ll avoid down the road. In truth, the larger unit may be the most cost-effective decision.

In other words, pro speaks a lot of different languages. You speak old folks. You speak young family. You speak CEO and you speak GED. The language all depends upon the needs of the individual buyers.

If you want to test this, try talking in normal business terms to a five year old. He or she will lose interest almost immediately. But then try speaking on the child’s level and just watch the happy animation appear on that tiny face as he or she realizes you have just entered the five-year old world. It’s like magic. And the same technique will work magic in sales.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

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.

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.

Closing Deals

  • If you’re a long time student of my training, that title is a “gotcha.” You’re probably reading this because of one of the words I used. If it caught your attention, read the rest of this post as a “back to basics review.”
  • If you’re new to my training, I’m thrilled that you’ll be learning this critical aspect of selling.

Closing salesAs you begin reading this post, please look at the title once again. Closing Deals. What you are seeing there is a word you should never use in any business or negotiation situation. It’s the word deal. Take this advice to heart and never, ever use that word when talking with the people you hope to do business with.

What does the word deal bring to mind? For most people, it brings to mind something that we’ve always wanted, but never really gotten—a good deal. Rather than risk turning off a potential client with a word that could raise their defense barriers, I strongly suggest you use the word opportunity. Opportunity is a much more positive word. It brings to mind thoughts of getting ahead, getting a break, or taking a chance on something with a positive potential outcome.

Another alternative for the word deal is the word transaction. In B-B situations, you are transacting business. So call it what it is – a transaction. Using the term deal just might start your buyer down the road to second-guessing the decision. It might also turn the sale into a negotiation that might have been avoided if you hadn’t raised a red flag with your words.

Few business professionals put much thought into the words they use when speaking with clients. They don’t seem to understand that words have the power to make or break a sale at any stage. You could have clients excited about your product or service and ready to go ahead and say one wrong word. The sale comes to a screeching halt and you aren’t even sure why. The clients stall. They back-pedal. They want to think it over. What happened?

You said something that created negative emotions. You created doubt either in the benefits they will receive from the product or about the value they’re getting for their investment. They got scared and created a quick defense barrier to keep the sale from going any further.

You see, words create pictures in our minds. Those pictures then cause us to have certain emotions—either negative or positive.

The goal of anyone in sales or in a position where they need to persuade others is to create only positive emotions with positive mental pictures. Negative mental pictures create fear or cause people to raise defense barriers against whatever you’re proposing. They can cause people to lose interest in you, your brand or the product itself.

The key to closing every opportunity or transaction is to eliminate fear in the minds of your potential clients. It works like this: Words create pictures that create emotions. And, people make buying decisions emotionally. Then, they defend their decisions with logic. So, it’s critical to closing that you understand how to eliminate negative emotions and create positive ones.

I have a list of 17 words that I recommend you eliminate from your vocabulary. Here are just a few:

1. Cost or Price. What comes to mind when you hear those words? For most people, they envision their money leaving their wallets. Or, their debt increasing. Neither of those are positive images, are they? Rather than using the words cost or price, use the phrases total amount or total investment. Do you feel the difference? The term amount isn’t as strong a negative as cost. And, the term investment has a positive connotation. When you make a wise investment, you get something of value for it, don’t you?

  • Don’t say: This product costs $500.
  • Say: The total amount for this product is only $500.

2. Contract. What happens when we get involved with a contract? First of all, it’s a legal document. Mom and Dad have always told us never to sign one and to read the fine print. To get out of one often involves a lawyer. So, how are you feeling about this word now? Eliminate it from your vocabulary if you want to increase your sales volume. Instead, use the terms agreement, paperwork, or form. We all know they mean the same thing as contract. They just don’t create the negative mental image of one.

  • Don’t say: Let’s fill out all the details on our contract so you can get started.
  • Say: Let’s put everything in writing on the agreement to see if getting started even makes sense.

3. Sign. This word needs to go the way of the word contract. That’s because they create hesitation in the mind of the buyer. Use the words approve, authorize, endorse or okay. Say something like this when it’s time to close: John, if you’ll just approve the paperwork right here, we’ll welcome you to our family of satisfied clients.

  • Don’t say: John, if you’ll just sign right here, we’ll get your delivery date set up.
  • Say: John, with your approval right here, we’ll arrange for delivery at your convenience.

4. Cheaper. Do you really want to have your clients think your product or service is cheaper? Look it up in a thesaurus. The other similar words aren’t conducive to good thoughts on the part of your buyer. Replace cheaper with more economical.

  • Don’t say: Our product is cheaper than the competition.
  • Say: Our product is more economical than that of the competition.

Please also keep in mind that every closed sale equates to the opening of a new relationship. Every relationship you develop in a positive manner with the people you serve, will bring you closer to achieving the goals you have set for yourself personally and with your loved ones. Every satisfied client has the potential of introducing you to many more people you can serve with your product or service. The more professionally you handle their needs, the more likely you will receive a steady stream of leads and referrals. Referred leads are the best kind because those folks will already have a positive impression about you and your product from their friends or relatives, which makes closing transactions easier and easier every time!

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Planned Pauses

Planned pauses make excellent additions to your presentation tool kit. They will help you control the sales process and control your own enthusiasm at the same time. Using planned pauses is nothing more than a matter of pausing at appropriate times during your sales conversations. These pauses, however, are a little longer than your typical conversational pauses.

There are a couple of good reasons to use them:

  1. Planned pauses create a noticeable silence that draws the buyers’ attention back to the sale (in cases where you can tell their minds have wandered). If you just stop talking, they’ll notice and wonder what’s going on. Hence, you gain their attention back again.
  2. Planned pauses allow you to slow yourself down and use the appropriate pace for each sales conversation. This is especially important if you normally talk at a somewhat fast pace (perhaps because you’re excited about your product). If your buyers speak more slowly, pauses will help you to converse at a slower pace that’s more comfortable for them.

The pause has been recognized as having a high value ever since the early days of human communication. Even Menander (342 BC) is quoted as saying, “Silence is often advantageous.”

Planned pauses are also helpful to use after hearing the answers  to questions you have posed to your buyers. Rather than jumping right in with another question or presenting a point based on their answer, build in a pause. If your buyers are like most people, your silence will be deemed a “thoughtful” pause. You will be giving yourself a moment to gather your thoughts — evaluating what the buyer has said before making the next move. And the buyer won’t feel like you’re rushing them.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. For permission to reprint this post, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com) at Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Less is More

Most people think that in order to persuade others, you have to be a real good talker. You have to have “the gift of gab,” “a silver tongue,” or be a “natural born salesperson.” The truth is just the opposite.

The true professionals—the successful people in sales are great listeners. What are they listening to? Their potential clients telling them their wants, wishes, needs and fears…and what they want to own. Yes, people will pretty much tell you what they want to own, if you’ll only give them the chance to speak. All you need to do is get them started. Then you simply guide the conversation along the lines you know it needs to take in order for you to determine needs, qualify and close the sale.

[Read more…]

Creating a Consultative Environment in Selling

Once all of the rapport-building is done and you’re ready to get down to business, it’s important to set the tone for your time with these clients. I suggest creating a consultative feeling by using a legal pad to make notes. In some types of selling, this doesn’t make sense, but it is helpful if you can do it. When you make notes of their concerns or other details they are sharing, the potential buyers feel that you’re truly interested in them. They feel you care enough to pay attention to their pain points. [Read more…]

Presenting to Donald Trump by Robert Terson


Author of Selling Fearlessly

“Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.” Italian Proverb

Architect Barry Thalden, hotel and casino designer and one of my dearest friends for the past 50 years, tells of presenting a proposal to Donald Trump: “I managed to arrange a meeting with Donald Trump.  We met in what later became the infamous Board Room on his TV show The Apprentice.  My presentation was on slides.  As I started to set up my projector, he immediately objected.  Undaunted, I told him it would only take a few minutes and would fully explain the opportunity I’d come to show him.

Once the presentation began he interrupted me several times, trying to rush me along; each time I told him I was just getting to the part he wanted to know about.  I’d come all the way to New York to see him; I was going to do it my way, come hell or high water.  I wasn’t going to chicken out, be intimidated because he was Donald Trump.  [Read more…]

The Most Effective Product Demonstration Ever!

As with most things in life, there are many ways to accomplish a single task. Wise business professionals are constantly on the lookout for better ways to make their points or present their products. In our book, Sell It Today, Sell It Now, Pat Leiby and I teach a proven-effective procedure for product presentations or demonstrations that is sure to work for you. It is a critical part of the Sell It Today system that can turn you into a one-time closing champion.

Our procedure begins with preparation. Thinking about the client you will present to next, break down your product demonstration into segments highlighting each individual feature of your product or service that you know will benefit this client.

[Read more…]