Tag Archives: sales presentations

Sometimes You Should Stay Quiet During Sales Presentations

By Jeff Beals

The typical sales professional is excited when they land an in-person meeting with a prospect.  This is your change to make your pitch and state your case.  We call it the “sales presentation,” but that term is actually misleading.

Just because it’s a “sales presentation” doesn’t mean you do all the talking.  Sales pros tend to be gregarious, outgoing people.  In some ways, that’s good, because extroverts are more apt to pick up the phone and call a stranger. They may deliver more entertaining, compelling sales presentations. They may be more aggressive pushing prospects to close at the end.

But the “talking” part of sales comprises only part of a good sales presentation. The other part of the process is quiet. Part of the sales presentation meeting should be devoted to building a relationship, listening and determining exactly what the prospect values without any assumption or ambiguity.

If you want to be successful in sales, there’s something far more important than an outgoing personality. It’s the ability to determine exactly what your prospect values. Here are four ways to do just that even during the sales presentation meeting:

Listen & Truly Hear

Too often we pretend like we’re listening or even think we’re doing a good job of listening, but in reality, we don’t retain what the other person is telling us. If you sell things for a living, you need to listen with the same intensity and attention to detail that a detective uses when he or she is interviewing a suspected criminal. Tell yourself that the person in front of you will say something at some point in the conversation that can directly lead to a closed deal. You can’t afford to miss it simply because you’re having a second conversation with yourself inside your mind when you need to be focused on the other person.

Never Assume

Our own biases often get in the way of our efforts to figure out what our prospects truly value. Look, you know your products and services better than the prospects do especially if you’ve been in your current selling role for a long time. Talented, experienced and knowledgeable sales professionals can be vulnerable to assuming what clients value because they’ve seen so many other clients and know so much about the product. Don’t succumb to temptation and start assuming you know everything you need to know about your prospect. I call it the “sin of assumption,” and it just might be the deadliest sin in business.

Ask Probing Questions

When we first sit down with a prospect, we engage in small talk or idle chit-chat. That’s a great way to warm up the conversation and make everyone comfortable. But don’t spend too much time on chit-chat. Start asking questions that help you uncover value. The best questions are probing in nature. Start questions with “Why?” “How?” “What if…?” “What would happen if you…?”

Bite Your Tongue

Don’t start talking until you are sure you know what your prospect values. If you’re not 100 percent convinced, keep asking probing questions and keep listening intently to the answers. When you do talk, your sales pitch should be customized based on what the prospective client told you during the value discovery process. Portray your products or services in such a way that they satisfy exactly what the prospect wants and needs.

As you consider the four ways to determine value mentioned above, it should become apparent that there is plenty of room for introverts in the sales business. As long as they can muster the gumption to approach prospects in the first place and turn on the charm when it’s time to present, introverts might actually be better at sales than extroverts. When it’s all said and done, the deal typically goes to the person who most closely provides what each unique client really wants.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

How Sales Professionals Can Harness the Power of Persuasion

By Jeff Beals

Some people are blessed with a natural ability to get what they want.

They have an innate ability to influence people, sway opinions and win arguments.  While such “mind powers” are instinctive to some, most of us have to work hard to persuade people to our way of thinking.  Fortunately, persuasion and influence cannot only be learned; they can be mastered.

Have you ever read Robert Cialdini?  He’s the “Godfather of Influence” and the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, one of the most influential business books of the past 30 years.  More recently, he authored Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade.

Much of Cialdini’s work is focused on helping people master “leadership’s greatest challenge – getting things done through others.”  But the skills employed by accomplished leaders are quite similar to those needed in sales.  Let’s look at Cialdini’s Six Principles of Influence through a sales lens:

Liking

The principle of liking says that people like those who are like them.  You should “uncover real similarities and offer genuine praise.”

Cialdini uses the example of a Tupperware party to illustrate how liking works. The hostess invites friends and family members. Because the attendees like the hostess, they’re far more willing to buy Tupperware products.  For example, my wife finds herself at a handful of parties each year for multi-level marketing products such as Tuppperware.  Inevitably, she ends up buying something just to please her friend (the hostess).

The two most significant factors affecting liking are similarity and praise. People are more apt to like people who are similar to them.  If you praise other people – even if that praise isn’t terribly merited – they are much more likely to like you.

What does that tell us?

Sales managers should sales representatives who have similar interests and backgrounds as the targeted prospects. Sales reps should take time after meeting new prospects to establish common ground.  Find excuses to compliment your prospects on their companies, products, careers and accomplishments.

Reciprocity

According to the principle of reciprocity, people have a tendency to repay in kind.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – The Golden Rule has been scientifically proven to be true.  Cialdini says any manager can be the beneficiary of good behavior by displaying the same behavior to others first.

The same applies to sales professionals.

Gift giving is a somewhat primitive example of reciprocity, but I have had success reaching prospects by first sending them a little gift.  Simply because I mailed them a copy of my books or a unique gift that relates to their company, I am much more likely to reach them on the phone.

Social Proof

This is my favorite of Cialdini’s principles because it relates directly to sales: “People follow the lead of similar others.”  We should “use peer power whenever it’s available.”

Cialdini cites a study in which researchers went door-to-door collecting donations for a charity.  When people answered the door, the researchers showed them a list of neighborhood residents who had already donated to the charity. The longer the donor list, the more likely prospective donors were to contribute.

Social proof is why references, testimonials and referrals are so important in sales.  Take time to collect testimonials and make them available to prospective clients.  Get a referral from a respected source before making a prospecting call.  Your success rate should rise dramatically.

Consistency

“People align with their clear commitments,” Cialdini says. “Make their commitments active, public and voluntary.”

Cialdini says if you supervise an employee who should submit reports on time, get that understanding in writing (such as a memo or email); make the commitment public (perhaps by sharing it with people in other affected departments); and link the commitment to the employee’s values (such as the impact of timely reports on team spirit).

This is why winning mini commitments is so effective in selling. If your prospective client agrees to something up front, you are more likely to close a sale with them. Perhaps you could summarize the outcome of a meeting in an email and ask the prospect to email you back confirming that everything you said is accurate.

Authority

The principle of authority says that “people defer to experts,” and Cialdini advises you to “expose your expertise; don’t assume it’s self-evident.”

While it is critically important for sales people to listen more than they talk when sitting in front of prospective clients, you do need to take at least a little bit of time to demonstrate your credentials and backgrounds.

Scarcity

People naturally want more of what they can have less of, Cialdini says, so highlight unique benefits and exclusive information.”

Cialdini writes about a time when wholesale beef buyers’ orders jumped 600 percent when they alone received information on a possible beef shortage.  Provide exclusive information to persuade.  When you tell people they are getting information before everyone else, they are more interested.  If people know they have access to something that is closed to others, they value it more.

Sales professionals might want to make special offers or upgrades available to the best clients first, or in some cases, only to the best clients.

In the end, sales professionals can gain a clear advantage by employing  Cialdini’s six principles, but keep a few things in mind – Trust is one of the most important components to completing a sale especially a complex, high-ticket-price B2B transaction. If you use these principles with an exploitative and manipulative heart, you will hurt your chances of creating a recurring client.

The other key to selling is value. You must discover exactly what prospective clients value and then deliver products and services which deliver that value exactly. If you fail to do that, the principles of influence will ultimately be ineffective.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

The Only Sales Knowledge You’ll Ever Need

anthony-iannarino-book

By Jeff Beals

In his new book on selling, Anthony Iannarino asks readers to finish this sentence: “I sell ___.”

He then writes, “If you answered anything other than ‘outcomes,’ you are wrong. If you answered with your product, service or solution, your answer is so off the mark that it might destroy your ability to succeed in sales.”

Iannarino then goes on to quote the late economist Theodore Levitt, who said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want to buy a quarter-inch hole.” In other words, customers are purchasing desired outcomes even if they are technically purchasing the means of creating outcomes.  Those sellers who realize what they are truly selling have a tremendous advantage over the great mass of ordinary sellers who are obsessed with products and services, features and benefits.

Among 19 meaty chapters of non-stop sales wisdom, the above quotes illustrate perfectly just how much value you’ll find in Iannarino’s The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need (Portfolio Penguin, 2016) which was just released a couple months ago.

Iannarino is an internationally acclaimed sales consultant and trainer as well as creator of one of the world’s most popular sales blogs.  In writing the book, he set out to explain why a small number of salespeople in any field are hugely successful, while the remaining common sales folk are mediocre or worse.

Some call it the “80-20” rule (and in some industries, it’s more like the “90-10” rule), but it’s essentially true – Twenty percent of sales people account for 80 percent of the business.  Everyone else is fighting over the scraps.  I certainly don’t want to dwell among the unexceptional 80 percent and hopefully you don’t either.

So, why the discrepancy among the haves and have-nots in the sales profession?  Iannarino’s answer is simple and straight forward – It’s all about the seller.  If you are in sales, you and you alone are responsible for your success and failure. In other words, you can decide to be a successful sales professional, and that decision is independent of product, service or industry.

Sales success, according to Iannarino, is not situational nor is about the market. It’s about the individual sales professional.  That leads us to a burning question: How do you make sure you’re part of the distinguished 20 percent?

The answer is divided into two parts which correspond to the two primary sections of Iannarino’s book: 1. your mindset, which includes beliefs and behaviors; 2. your skill sets.

The mindsets include self-discipline, positive attitude, competitiveness, resourcefulness, persistence and a few others. Once you thoroughly understand and adopt these mindsets, Iannarino says you can then start mastering the mechanics of selling.  Here are thoughts on just a few of his skill sets:

Closing Deals

Iannarino argues that selling effectively is all about gaining commitments.  You need to be an ethical and consultative seller while assertively asking for commitments. There are numerous mini closes in the buying process such as the commitments to devote time, to explore, to change, to build consensus, and to invest resources.  Each time you get a small commitment, you move the buyer closer to the finish line.

Prospecting

Never wait until you need to prospect as it should be something you do perpetually whether times are tough or you have so much business you can hardly keep your breath.  Regarding the art of prospecting, Iannarino says, “You can’t cram prospecting. It must be a daily discipline. Block out time every day.”  He also says, “Prospecting is a campaign, not an event. It’s a series of touches that lead to a conversation and an opportunity to meet.”

Business Acumen

In the olden days of selling, sales people got by as long as they had extensive product knowledge.  That’s becoming less important now, because so much information and so many reviews of products are available online. Innarino says today’s “dream clients” want salespeople who will partner with them and guide them to a better future.  Clients want trusted advisers.  In order to provide that kind of high-level value, you need business acumen.

How do you get business acumen?

Constantly read and study business, get mentors, play close attention to what clients say. Ultimately, you must know much more than what you sell. While this in some ways seems obvious, Iannarino says that business acumen is still rare in sales. Don’t worry so much about product knowledge that you don’t know enough big-picture stuff to help your clients truly improve their R.O.I.

In the end, successful salespeople stay ahead of their competitors in a dynamic selling environment.  Because of globalization and many other factors, Iannarino believes that selling is more difficult today than it was in the past. That’s despite all the technological advances that have made a salesperson’s just easier in other ways.

To become an elite sales professional, I highly recommend The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need.

I have had the chance to talk with Iannarino on a couple occasions. His brain is packed with sales knowledge and experience. The sales world is fortunate that he finally decided to put that knowledge in a tidy, organized book that delivers amazing value.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

Do Storytellers Really Close More Deals?

By Jeff Beals

As a person who has long believed in the power of storytelling, a recent Wall Street Journal headline caught my attention: “Why Good Storytellers Are Happier in Life and in Love.”

In the article, writer Elizabeth Bernstein writes that since the dawn of language, people have shared stories with others to entertain, persuade, make sense of what happened to them and bond. Research shows that the way people construct their individual stories has a large impact on their physical and mental health. People who frame their personal narratives in a positive way have more life satisfaction.

But it gets even better – good storytellers are considered more attractive. Bernstein mentions three studies in which women rated men who were good storytellers as more attractive and more desirable as long-term partners.

Storytelling is not just good for your social life; it can boost your sales effectiveness as well.

Stories pack a punch. They’re powerful. They paint pictures. They work, because our human brains are conditioned to listen to and be receptive to stories. Long before the written word, and long before Gutenberg invented the printing press, people used stories to communicate histories and traditions as well as norms and expectations. Our ancestors sat around the fire every night and told stories. The propensity to tell and listen to stories is essentially a part of our DNA.

So, if people are so receptive to storytelling, you and I would be foolish not to use stories in our sales work. If you manage a sales team, teach your reps and motivate them by conveying important information through stories. When selling products and services, use a story to paint a picture in your prospect’s mind. By making the product or service part of a story, prospective clients mentally project themselves into the story. Once someone makes that kind of psychological commitment, they’re much more likely to buy.

Let’s say we asked the same prospective client to sit through two sales presentations for competing products. Both salespersons touched on features and benefits. Salesperson A was very straightforward and focused on delivering factual content. Salesperson B was accurate but explained the features and benefits using stories. A couple of the stories were about previous clients who enjoyed positive results from using the product. I guarantee the second salesperson has a higher likelihood of landing the client.

One of the most important skills in sales is the ability to overcome objections. Well, if you get an objection, tell a story to keep the deal alive. Are you ready to deliver your close? Make it more desirable by couching it inside a story. Has the process become mired? Advance it by telling a story.

As you make a commitment to including more stories in your daily work, keep a couple things in mind:

1. Stories must be relative to the situation at hand.

2. Know when to shut up. If a story goes on too long, it loses its effectiveness

3. Think about the work you do and determine what kinds of stories could be effective in certain situations.

4. Catalog stories in your mind. Look back on your own experiences as well as the experiences of your colleagues. Make a list of stories to have at your disposal, so you can use them whenever it’s expedient.

Every product, service, business and individual sales professional has a story, probably multiple stories. The trick is to pull out these stories and use them to your benefit at the appropriate times. After all, if storytelling can make you appear more attractive and desirable at a party, you would be wise to use stories to build relationships with clients and close more deals.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff is sure to deliver an engaging and motivating speech! He cleverly ties together his stories and makes the speech end with a punch. Being the closing speaker is tough, but he stepped-up to the challenge and hit a home-run. Due to the high ratings and overwhelming response to re-watch his speech, we are planning on using his video during our NextGen watch party.”  – Megan Dotson, Senior Client Success Consultant & Event Director, GovLoop.com, Washington, DC

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and
building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

“If you are considering hiring Jeff, I will only say this: do it now. His ability to connect with an audience and explain the importance of telling the story is nothing short of extraordinary. The true litmus of any great speaker is authenticity. And when authenticity is coupled with an incredibly high amount of energy, humor, and engagement – you get Jeff.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a speaker attendees will talk about for a long time to come.” – Alison Cody, Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, Atlanta, GA

“I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us down here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com