In business, we all sell something. Some sell products, some sell services. However, we all need to be about selling solutions. When you go on a sales call, it’s never about what you do. Sometimes as small business owners, we are so passionate about our businesses that we forget to focus on the customer’s pain points. Bottomline: It’s all about what the customer needs.
We put so much time into our logos, tag lines, brochures and websites. Now, I would not be a good small business coach and marketing expert if I said that a professional corporate image and web presence are not important, but quality marketing collateral will only get you the meeting.
No matter what you sell, it’s the story you tell that is memorable. Communicate how what you do affects people, and that’s how you make a sale. Remember when you are selling, it should never feel like you are selling. No one wants to be sold something. Stories draw people in, and tell a little something about the nature of your company about how you solve problems. And most importantly, it leaves your client wanting to know more about how you can help them.
You must research your prospective customer and understand to whom you’ll be presenting in the meeting. Whenever possible, you want to present to the end customers, but keep in mind that some organizations have many layers. The rule of thumb is – the larger the customer, the more layers and the longer the sales cycle. The great thing about social media is you can look up anyone online. Once you get the names, look them up to find out how long they’ve been on the job, where they went to school, are they a member of toastmasters. The point is to look for a point of connection, so you can begin to create a personal relationship once your meet face to face. One of my favorite tools is to ask women if they have kids. You can always share working mom war stories. All working moms can empathize with those mad dashes to the daycare before the fines start.
When preparing for a sales meeting, use Smallbizlady’s 4-Step System to prepare. It will help you walk your clients through how using your product will solve their business challenge.
- Step 1. Pre-call Planning – Understand the customer’s goal for the sales meeting. Whenever possible find out the names and titles of who will be in the room, how much time you have, any technology available in the room. If using Powerpoint slides, never have more than 10-12 slides, and print color hard copies for small groups of 10 or less. It’s best to prepare handouts just in case the IT tech can’t be found in time.
- Step 2. Point – As in the Customer Pain Point. Make sure the client knows that you know their company background, broad strategy and their problem. Order a 10K or Hoovers report to understand the business strength and weaknesses of your customer.
- Step 3. Story– Everyone responds to a story of success. Lay out case studies. Talk specifically about how your product or service worked with a similar client or in their industry and the results that it generated. Clients respond to measurable results.
- Step 4. Ask– Never close a sales call without asking for the business or at least clarifying the next steps in their internal purchasing process.
When your presentation focuses on the voice of your customer, you will stand out. Rise above focusing on your company’s services and features and instead find your purpose by maximizing your benefits to your customer.
Do you have a process to prepare for sales presentations? Please share your tips.
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Melinda Emerson, known to many as “SmallBizLady,” is a Veteran Entrepreneur, Small Business Coach and Social Media Strategist who hosts #SmallBizChat weekly on Twitter for emerging entrepreneurs. #Smallbizchat is the trusted resource on Twitter to discuss everything entrepreneurs need to know about launching and running a profitable small business. Her first book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months was released in March 2010.