Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Why Closing Is Different In 2015

In 2005, everyone had computer access and a cell phone.  None of us had streaming TV, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Facebook, or Skype.  Faxing was still big. Important information still regularly came in your physical mailbox. 2015 is a year where the 2005 plan just won't cut it.

The biggest difference in the sales world is that prospect and buyers expect to be part of the sales process. Interactive sales are the norm. Clients will want custom products, and they will tell you how they are willing to let you sell it.  Anyone can open their phone and Google your "facts," and comparison shopping is almost instantly available to every customer.  What's a sales pro to do?

Interacting with your client doesn't just mean showing up for a meeting anymore. Now we text, tweet, video chat, email, and LinkedIn message our customers and our prospects.  Following a prospect on social media keeps us in the loop as their attitudes and goals change and evolve. And they follow us, and our competition, too. The sheer volume of available information has made consumers a much more educated group.

How does this affect closing? Focus on helping your prospect meet their goals and relieve their pain points. Listen as much as possible to how your solution will be implemented and how it will benefit the customer's plans. People commit to relationships they believe are honest and beneficial, so it's important that your client doesn't feel sandbagged in the closing process. (After the commitment has been made is not the time to throw in, "Oh, by the way, I need you to sign this.")

Written agreements give you the authorization to handle sensitive information, and give the customer a record of the commitments you and your company have made. Emphasize that your agreement protects your client's privacy; it limits who has access to their information, and for what purpose. When a prospect asks you for a commitment, that's a great time to agree, hold up your agreement and say, "and we put it in writing." 

Don't be surprised if your client pulls out an agreement of their own for you to sign on behalf of your company.  More and more purchasing departments in companies small and large have "contractor agreements," which usually supersede any other oral or written agreements.  They often include non-disclosure clauses, and penalties to the vendor if the solution is late, ineffective, or improperly maintained. Make sure you have permission to sign before you go ahead and do it.  If you're not sure, bring it back to the office with you and hand it off to your boss.  

Your competition isn't local anymore.  Your competition is anything a customer can find on the internet.  If someone else out there offers a nuance or policy that your customers like or want, they will pressure you to offer it, too.  Welcome to the interactive sale.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

8 Critical Presentation Skills

If you’ve ever sat through a bad presentation, you know how frustrating it is. The presenter is losing respect and credibility, minute after excruciating minute. The sale will never be made, as the attendees cannot wait for an opportunity to escape. What’s a bad presentation? One that breaks one or more of the following rules:

Know and Respect Your Audience: Audiences are not all the same. Know the individual needs and strengths of your audience in advance, and tailor your presentation to them, specifically.

Present in Terms of Your Audience: Talk about them. If they’re in your audience, they accept that you have something useful to offer. There is no need to toot your own horn. Instead, demonstrate how the material helps them achieve their goals. Address how successful implementation will benefit them. Ask them to explain how the concepts will benefit them.

Present Information In Multiple Formats: Give handouts. Have slides. Use photos and pictures. Have activities planned for every 15-30 minutes. Every person ever tested learns best when information is presented to them in a variety of ways, followed by practice utilizing the concept. Use all of these formats whenever possible. They’ll remember more of what you presented!

Have At Least 1 Slide Or Visual For Every Minute of Lecture Time: People read and absorb the information on a presentation slide in an average of 15 seconds. 5 to 7 information points per slide is all that people can work with in their short term memory at a time.  When it’s time for a new group of concepts, it’s time for a new slide or visual. Your audience will remain attentive and engaged.

Never Read Your Slides To Your Audience: They can read them, and probably have. Reading to them feels insulting. Use the animations in your presentation program to have text join the slide as you make points. Movement increases the intensity of audience focus.

Speak in Coherent Sentences: Nothing will make your audience’s mind wander like throwing in a few, “Um, you know, so, uh, well” space fillers. The only way to avoid this is to rehearse your presentation. It shows respect for your audience’s time if you’ve taken the time to properly prepare. No one notices when space filling words are missing, but everyone notices when they’re used.
Ask Questions Throughout, and Listen to The Answers: Being asked a question makes most people almost reflexively answer it, at least in their head. This keeps your audience engaged. If you ask a question and your audience answers, address the answer fully.

Keep It Short: Present for slightly less time than you were given. People will ask questions and otherwise interrupt you, and you need to build in plenty of time for that. Deliver your message. Your audience has a schedule to keep.