The third piece in this five-part series zeroed in on the importance of honesty with our customers and channeling our efforts intelligently to obtain maximum results. I also pointed out some ideas on how to create win-win encounters with customers. These encounters lead to successful business results for the customer and for you.
Here, in part four, I will cover why simple, straightforward presentations and proposals help you win more business. I’ll also discuss why helping and guiding your customers in an organized way will lead to solid customer relationships and higher levels of customer satisfaction. These are points 7 and 8 from the Make Up Your Mind Essay…
7. That the power of your sales presentation will always lie in its simplicity.
All business segments have their unique “speak.” People who might be listening to a conversation between two individuals in the digital printing industry may think they are speaking in code. To them, the conversation might as well be in another language, and in many ways it is. Production folks may use terms like color correction, ink adhesion and laminate tunneling. Those of us on the inside get it, but others don’t. It’s cool. It makes us a part of the collective. It shows that we know what’s what in our profession. However, using industry slang can be a deadly trap for sales professionals. How so?
- It doesn’t separate us from our competition
- It works great in production, but terribly in the business office
- It causes us to assume that the person we’re talking to understands what we’re talking about
- We want to show our customers what we know instead of focusing on what they need
- Our priority becomes features and functions, not benefits
You get the picture. We fall into the trap of telling customers what they should buy, instead of why it’s better to buy from us. Lexjet co-founder Art Lambert uses a phrase I like a lot when it comes to working with people who want to sell to him. He says, “Get to the verb.”
This simply means that if you want him to do/buy something, ask him what you want to do right up front. Follow that request with a solid set of reasons why doing what you ask will benefit him and his business. Here’s an example:
Request: “Art, I’m here today to ask you to move LexJet’s banking business to First Federal.”
Benefit: “First Federal will create a local LexJet-Only team focused exclusively on your financial requirements. That team will learn about the LexJet’s unique money management processes and then develop custom tailored programs to improve your financial efficiency. This will help LexJet achieve improved financial flexibility and provide for future investment and profitable growth. We have this program in place with twenty major customers now and their financial growth and efficiency has improved 18% in only two years. At LexJet’s current sales volume, our program would deliver an additional $500,000 to your annual bottom line.”
Response: “That sounds pretty good. I’d be interested in learning more about that program.”
The approach is simple, but effective. What do you want, why should I do it and why should I do it with you?
As salespeople, it’s important for us to tailor how we communicate to who we’re talking to and in what department. However, the simple approach above will most likely always move the conversation forward.
8. That the purchase must be “helped along” and is more often made because you guide the prospect’s behavior in an effective, organized manner.
There is an old sales cliché I like a lot. It says, “Stop selling, start helping.” A companion phrase that goes along with that one is, “If you’re not helping, you’re hurting.” I like these because they help me to stay focused on what matters to my customers and not what on matters to me in the salesperson/customer relationship.
Okay, so you have a solution you know will really help your customers’ business and will help them help their customers. Great! How do you help your customer integrate your solution into their current business environment? You need to have a plan. In this case you will need a new solution adoption plan.
A new solution adoption plan doesn’t tell your customer what they should do with your new solution; it answers the standard journalist questions of:
Who? Who makes it happen?
What? What detailed steps need to be taken to make it happen?
Where? Which area of the business will be positively affected?
When? What are the specific milestones and project deadline?
Why? These are the great results you will realize from doing this.
How? Your plan.
How Much? What revenue increases or cost savings will the customer receive?
The key here is to do the work for them. Make it easy for them to say yes to your solution. Guide them. Lead them. Always be the most important part of the solution. Why? When the need help, they’ll come to you. When they encounter a problem, they come to you to solve it. When they want positive results, they come to you first.
In the final installment of this series, we’ll discuss why knowing you customer is more important that knowing your product. We’ll then close by telling you why the topics covered in this series are critical to your ongoing growth and professional development.
Until next time…