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Sales Strategy & Management

Making Sales Presentations

You have the appointment but will your presentation ruin it all?

Entrepreneur

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Your cold calls and follow-up efforts have paid off, and you have made an appointment to visit a prospect in person and make a sales presentation.

How can you make sure it’s a success? Four elements determine whether or not a sale will be made:

  1. Rapport: putting yourself on the same side of the fence as the prospect
  2. Need: determining what factors will motivate the prospect to listen with the intent to purchase
  3. Importance: the weight the prospect assigns to a product, feature, benefit, price or time frame
  4. Confidence: your ability to project credibility, to remove doubt, and to gain the prospect’s belief that the risk of purchase will be less than the reward of ownership

Here is a closer look at the steps you can take to make your sales presentation a success.

Before the Presentation

Know your customer’s business.
Potential clients expect you to know their business, customers and competition as well as you know your own product or service. Study your customer’s industry. Know its problems and trends. Find out who the company’s biggest competitors are. Some research tools include the company’s annual report, brochures, catalogues, and newsletters; trade publications; chamber of commerce directories; and the internet.

Write out your sales presentation.
Making a sales presentation isn’t something you do on the fly. Always use a written presentation. The basic structure of any sales presentation includes five key points: Build rapport with your prospect, introduce the business topic, ask questions to better understand your prospect’s needs, summarise your key selling points, and close the sale. Think about the three major selling points of your product or service. Develop leading questions to probe your customer’s reactions and needs.

Make sure you are talking to the right person.
This seems elementary, but many salespeople neglect to do it. Then, at the last minute, the buyer wriggles off the hook by saying he or she needs a boss’s, spouse’s or partner’s approval. When you are setting the appointment, always ask “Are you the one I should be talking to, or are there others who will be making the buying decision?”

In the Customer’s Office

Build rapport.
Before you start discussing business, build rapport with your prospect. To accomplish this, do some homework. Find out if you have a colleague in common. Has the prospect’s company been in the news lately? Is he or she interested in sports? Get a little insight into the company and the individual so you can make the rapport genuine.

Ask questions.
Don’t jump into a canned sales spiel. The most effective way to sell is to ask the prospect questions and see where he or she leads you. (Of course, your questions are carefully structured to elicit the prospect’s needs – ones that your product just happens to be able to fill.)

Ask questions that require more than a yes or no response, and that deal with more than just costs, price, procedures and the technical aspects of the prospect’s business. Most important, ask questions that will reveal the prospect’s motivation to purchase, his or her problems and needs, and the prospect’s decision-making processes.

Don’t be afraid to ask a client why he or she feels a certain way. That’s how you’ll get to understand your customers.

Take notes.
Don’t rely on your memory to remind you of what’s important to your prospect. Ask upfront if it’s all right for you to take notes during your sales presentation. (Prospects will be flattered.) Write down key points you can refer to later during your presentation.

Be sure to write down objections. This shows your prospect you are truly listening to what he or she is saying. In this way, you can specifically answer objections by showing how the customer will benefit from your product or service. It could be, for instance, by saving money, raising productivity, increasing employee motivation, or increasing his or her company’s name recognition.

Learn to listen. Salespeople who do all the talking during a presentation not only bore the prospect, but also generally lose the sale. A good rule of thumb is to listen 70% of the time and talk 30% of the time. Don’t interrupt. It’s tempting to step in and tell the prospect something you think is vitally important. Before you speak, ask yourself if what you’re about to say is really necessary.

When you do speak, focus on asking questions. Pretend you are Barbara Walters interviewing a movie star: Ask questions; then shut up. You can improve your listening skills by taking notes and observing your prospect’s body language, not jumping to conclusions.

Answer objections with “feel,” “felt” and “found.”
Don’t argue when a prospect says “I’m not interested,” “I just bought one,” or “I don’t have time right now.” Simply say “I understand how you feel. A lot of my present customers felt the same way. But when they found out how much time they saved by using our product, they were amazed.”

Then ask for an appointment. Prospects like to hear about other people who have been in a similar situation.

Probe deeper.
If a prospect tells you “We’re looking for cost savings and efficiency,” will you immediately tell him how your product meets his need for cost savings and efficiency? A really smart salesperson won’t – he or she will ask more questions and probe deeper:

“I understand why that is important. Can you give me a specific example?” Asking for more information – and listening to the answers – enables you to better position your product and show you understand the client’s needs.

Find the “hot button.”
A customer may have a long list of needs, but there is usually one “hot button” that will get the person to buy. The key to the hot button is that it is an emotional, not practical, need – a need for recognition, love or reinforcement.

Suppose you are selling health-club memberships. For a prospect who is planning a trip to Hawaii in two months, the hot button is likely to be losing a few pounds and looking good in a bikini. For a prospect who just found out he has high blood pressure, the hot button could be the health benefits of exercise. For a busy young mother, the hot button may be the chance to get away from the kids for a few hours a week and reduce stress.

Eliminate objections.
When a prospect raises an objection, don’t immediately jump in with a response. Instead, show empathy by saying “Let’s explore your concerns.” Ask for more details about the objection. You need to isolate the true objection so you can handle it. Here are some ways to do that:

Offer a choice.
“Is it the delivery time or the financing you are concerned about?”

Get to the heart of the matter.
“When you say you want to think about it, what specifically did you want to think about?”

Work toward a solution.
Every sale should be a win-win deal, so you may need to compromise to close the deal: “I’ll waive the delivery charge if you agree to the purchase.” As you get more experience making sales calls, you’ll become familiar with different objections. Maintain a list of common objections and ways you have successfully dealt with them.

Close the sale.
There is no magic to closing the sale. If you have followed all the previous steps, all you should have to do is ask for the customer’s order. However, some salespeople make the mistake of simply not asking for the final decision. It’s as if they forget what their goal is.

For some, “closing” sounds too negative. If you’re one of them, try changing your thinking to something more positive, such as “deciding.” As you talk with the customer, build in the close by having fun with it. Say something like “So how many do you want? We have it in a rainbow of colours; do you want them all?” Make sure to ask them several times in a fun, nonthreatening way; you’re leading them to make the decision.

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Sales Strategy & Management

Why Creating Value For Your Customer Beats Giving Price Discounts

Customers want value for money. It’s time to rethink your pricing strategy (without losing your margins).

Ed Hatton

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Win More Sales

Businesses that can prove and deliver the greatest value can ask their price.

Pricing strategy may be low on the priority list, but complaints about competitors’ low prices get a lot of attention. It’s time to rethink your pricing strategy and rules.

For most of us, pricing is a cost-plus system, the calculated cost of an item is marked up by a percentage to get the selling price, which may then be discounted to match competitive prices. This method assumes that your cost is the lowest it could be, which is rarely true. It is likely you could drive down costs by smarter purchasing or more efficient manufacturing.

The second wrong assumption is that the mark-up percentage is correct; it is more likely to be a long-ago rounded off thumb suck of what you need to run the business, and out of date in this economy. Crucially, cost plus pricing ignores the value that a customer gains when buying the product.

Research shows that customers increasingly seek value for money and will even pay a premium for value. This is especially true of young people, but all classes of buyers, from giant corporates to very poor individuals, seek value over price. Many tenders are not awarded to the lowest bidder but to the supplier best able to deliver. Very poor people buy expensive branded food because they are trusted.

Companies hesitate to switch suppliers only for price, particularly where delivery and quality are vital. With all this evidence that value is important, it’s time to rethink your pricing.

Related: Take Your Sales Skills To The Next Level With These 5 Simple Steps

Determining value

Ask your customers what factors are important when choosing suppliers. Price will always be one factor, but focus on the others. Your goal is to become the supplier that best matches all their needs. In many cases, you may even be able to increase your price. Bottled water sells for anything from R5 to R50 a bottle, simply based on the buyer’s perception of the health and other values of that brand. You can get a website and brand identity for less than R10 000 or more than R1 million — neither are the wrong price, it depends what the buyer needs. Get all the information you can and don’t rely on your own or your sales team’s perception of customer needs.

What happens if you cannot make money at the price the customers see value in the item? Start a harsh examination of your buying or manufacturing efficiencies. At the same time re-examine the margin calculation — lean businesses need less margin than lazy ones. If you still cannot make or buy it economically, consider changing your pricing strategy.

Pricing strategies

Convenience pricing is offering a bundle of goods and services for a single price or monthly fee. The customer can easily assess affordability and decide if this offers value. Cell phone suppliers and motor dealers adopt this pricing method. You buy a car for a single monthly fee including the car, warranty, maintenance plan, roadside assist, financing and other items. Both customer and seller are satisfied.

Value-based pricing sees the price determined by the value of the product or service to the individual buyer. The most skilled value-based pricing experts are the street hawkers who are quick to assess the value a student, a businesswoman or a tourist may put on an item. Public speakers have different prices for different audiences like large businesses, start-ups and NGOs — I use this method.

Related: Accurately Predict Future Sales With These Two Things

Incentive-based pricing is widely used in the IT and construction industries. It works on the basis that the price is variable and depends on the performance of the supplier. An IT project may have a nominal price but bonuses are paid for early completion, being below budget or developing more than the requirements. Conversely, not meeting deadlines, delivering late, poor quality or incomplete systems will reduce the price eventually paid. Consider if your business can use one of these highly effective pricing strategies.

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Sales Strategy & Management

What Is Customer Intimacy And How Do You Use It?

If you think that maintaining a close relationship with customers is not as important as selling your products, you are wrong.

Clarissa Fleischer

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Knowing your customers well is a major part of being a successful marketing company. When companies do not connect with their customers, this is when they lose loyalty, revenue and positive customer sentiments. And in today’s world of hyper-connectivity and improved brand interactions, not being connected to your consumers can damage your brand in the long run.

If you think that maintaining a close relationship with customers is not as important as selling your products, you are wrong.Customer intimacy should be a top priority for any company who wants to maintain their success.

But, what exactly is customer intimacy?

Simply put, it is a business strategy that is based on paying close attention to the needs of your customers and ensuring that these needs are met and prioritised at all points of their journey with your company. It often involves close contact with customers using a variety of different channels and techniques. You need them to know that you care about their needs and understand what they are asking for.

You could think of it as segmenting your audience and creating specific offerings to precisely match their needs. If you want to excel at using customer intimacy, you will need to combine your in-depth knowledge of your customer with the ability to be flexible in your operations. This way, you can respond to any customer needs as quickly as possible, maintaining the high standards they have come to expect from your brand.

How do I use it?

Now that you understand what customer intimacy is, you are ready to delve deeper and figure out how to use it. There are some simple tips that you can use to implement customer intimacy in your current marketing strategy. Outlined below are just some of these effective methods.

Always prioritise your customers

This is the first step to any successful customer intimacy strategy. Prioritising your customers means that you need to set up operational processes which are “customer first” in their thinking. You will need to start by listening to customers and analysing their concerns. Only once you understand these concerns, will you be able to provide solutions.

It is important to look into processes that prioritise these concerns rather than react negatively to them. An example of this is avoiding looking at how many calls your client service team takes in a day but rather looking at the goals that they achieve when answering customer queries. Have they answered the customer’s question? Is there a resolution in sight for the problem? These are a more important metric to look at than how many calls are answered in a day.

Try to resolve problems

In order to become more customer-intimate, you should strive to solve the problems that arise rather than discourage people from coming to you with issues. And your brand should make customers feel as though they can share their grievances, either by contacting you directly or by writing a review on your social media page.

Statistics show that customers share a bad experience twice as often than they do a positive one, which could be highly detrimental to your company. So, when your customers do take the time to contact your business with either a positive or negative review, you have to have steps in place to resolve these problems. Use these complaints to improve your processes and your customer service section, so that the next time someone contacts you, it will be with compliments and not complaints.

Set goals that your entire company must follow

One of the most effective ways to become a customer-centric company is to set common goals that all of your employees must follow. For example, one goal could be to answer customer questions within 24 hours with a solution that is realistic and achievable. Or you could aim to improve your project turn-around time by gathering information from clients at every stage of their journey.

Whatever goals you set for your business, you will need to ensure that every employee adheres to them. Leaders need to set an example for their staff so that the customers, ultimately, reap the benefits. But be sure that your goals are attainable. You cannot expect your employees to reach the unreachable, as this will negatively impact the level of customer service you can provide consumers. Look at the data that is coming in from customer calls and interactions and use this to come up with goals that you can reach. 

The customer is always right

We often use this saying in a joking or derivative way, but it is truer than you might think, especially for marketing companies. In today’s world, the consumer wants brands to focus on them. In fact, if a brand ignores even the smallest form of contact with a customer, there could be an issue. And this is why you need to become a customer-intimate brand.

You need to prioritise the needs of the customer at every touchpoint in their journey with your brand, solve any problems that might arise and ensure that everyone is on the same page in your company. Soon you will see that your customers are singing your praises to everyone they meet.

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Sales Strategy & Management

How To Use Sales Skills To Build Your Business

If you want to build your business up, read on below for how to use sales skills to do so.

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Building your business from the ground up is no easy feat. You might feel overwhelmed by all the ways and methods that are available to you but there is one way that can help your efforts immensely, and that is by using sales skills. Sales skills might not seem like they are applicable to building a business, but what is a business without sale people?

You could look into a sales accelerator for business development course to improve your selling skills. Sales training courses can be useful, as they will teach you about sales techniques and sales strategy, which you can apply to other aspects of your business. So, if you want to build your business up, read on below for how to use sales skills to do so.

Listen to existing customers

An effective way to improve your business offerings is to listen to your existing customers. Listening is actually more complex than it seems, and it means that you have to do a lot less talking. This will help you to truly hear your customers and take stock of what they are saying.

Listening to existing customers is one of the best sales and marketing strategies you can use to improve your business. This is especially true if you have built a relationship and rapport with your current customer base, as this will encourage them to give you insights into any issues they might be facing. Whether you are a small business or a large company, listening to customers is always helpful.

Related: The 15 Characteristics of People Who Succeed at Sales

Try to solve a problem

Solving a problem is a marketing plan that is effective and sure to work in building your business. And a great salesperson knows that solving the problem of a potential customer is a sure-fire way to improving the conversion rate of their business.

You will need to do some research into the problems that your target market faces and then focus on how your products or services can be used to solve these problems. This ties into the first step of listening, not only to your existing clients but to potential ones too. Listen to what people are saying and learn to read what is being said. This way, you will be able to ascertain the problems your customers are facing and you can come up with solutions to fix them.

Use word of mouth

Existing customers can be a huge help to your business, in that they can provide you with positive referrals to use to boost your client base. If a customer is happy with the services or products you have provided them with, you can ask them for the name and contact details of other business owners who might benefit from your help.

You can also ask for positive testimonials from customers that you can place on your business site and social media platforms. You should always ask permission before using testimonials, and be sure that they are factual, true and relevant to your brand. Referrals and testimonials are common sales tactics that can be applied to boosting a small business or improving the reputation of an established company. And while nobody enjoys receiving negative reviews, it is important that you use these reviews to learn from your mistakes and improve your customer experiences.

Sell your vision

Building your business might involve reaching out to investors to help with monetary issues, and this is where your sales skills will really need to shine. This is because you are not only selling your business, but you are selling your vision of your business as well.

You will need to give specific details as to how your offerings will help customers to solve problems and answer questions. And you will need to sell a successful vision to your investors of how you want your business to success. Show them that your employees will be happy with how well they are taken care of and that customers will live a better life by using your services or product.

Related: Take Your Sales Skills To The Next Level With These 5 Simple Steps

Exceed customer expectations

When a salesperson goes over and above what the customer expects, it is likely that the customer will become a return customer. And this is what you want for your business, right? So you should look into ways in which you can meet and exceed customer expectations.

One of the benefits of always exceeding expectations is that you will no longer have to rely on the “hard sell” to encourage people to use your business. Word-of-mouth will travel about your excellent customer service, which will sell your business for you. If your brand is passionate about providing customers with the best possible service, you will be selling your business and improving it all at once.

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