In the early 1980s, the legendary actor Orson Welles served as a television spokesperson for Paul Masson California wine. At the end of each Paul Masson commercial, Welles would say, “We will sell no wine before it’s time.”
If you’re old enough to remember those commercials, the line, “We will sell no wine before it’s time,” is undoubtedly burned into your memory.
One of the most memorable of the commercials started with Welles listening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Here’s the script:
It took Beethoven four years to write that symphony. Some things can’t be rushed: good music, and good wine. Paul Masson’s Emerald Dry, a delicious white wine. Paul Masson’s wines taste so good because they’re made with such care. What Paul Masson himself said nearly a century ago is still true today: We will sell no wine before its time.
The goal was to portray Paul Masson as a more prestigious brand than the market had previously considered it. Consumers know, that in most cases, higher quality items take longer to make or perfect.
You could argue that the same patience is sometimes necessary in the sales profession.
Just as Paul Masson would sell no wine before it’s time, there shall be no sales presentation until it’s time!
This might seem counterintuitive, but if we’re going to talk about sales presentations, we must first talk about listening.
Too often extroverted sales reps, who love the sound of their own voices, launch into a well-rehearsed and finely polished demonstrations and pitches. You don’t want to do that, however, until you have determined exactly who the prospect is, what they value and how your products or services specifically deliver what they value.
Then, and only then, do you start to “sell.”
A sales presentation is your pitch. More specifically, the presentation is your formal chance to present how you and your offering are beneficial to the prospect. But before any of that happens, it’s all about figuring out what the prospect values.
Value lives in the prospect’s head, not yours.
That’s kind of an obvious thing to say, yet I see sales practitioners seemingly forgetting that every day. Most of the people who go into a sales job are outgoing, gregarious extroverts. We love to talk. And we love to do deals. You put those two loves together, and we’re tempted to assume what it is that prospects value instead of finding out for sure. When we do that, we start talking about what interests us instead of what interests our clients.
When we go into a sales presentation, our job is to pull that value out of a prospect’s head and get it out in the open. Once we know what the value is, we can then customize our presentation so it meets that value exactly.
Value is what a person cares about. It’s the combination of the dreams they fantasize about, the philosophies they hold dear, the emotion that always affects them, the pain they’re desperately trying to eliminate and the goal they need help accomplishing.
Each person defines what is valuable to him or her. Nobody else can do that. Not a family member, not a spouse, not a colleague and certainly not a sales rep. Our job is to figure out exactly what the prospect values without making an assumption. When we know that, then and only then do we start making a pitch.
Be careful never to assume what someone values. I refer to that as the “sin of assumption,” and it’s the deadliest sin in business. And guess what – the longer you’ve been in your profession, the more vulnerable you are to committing the sin of assumption. In most ways, having a long tenure in your industry is an advantage, but when it comes to figuring out what a prospect values without making assumption, it can be a disadvantage.
Think about it. The longer you’ve been selling, the more experiences you have had, and the more every new client reminds you of someone in the past. Furthermore, the deeper your knowledge of the industry becomes, the less you have in common with clients, especially those who are not terribly sophisticated in your field.
Do what it takes to figure out what your prospect truly values and then customize your sales presentation accordingly.
There shall be no presentation until we have discovered value!