Views From Above

In-person sales calls demand a somewhat different approach than online or retail sales. Your company has likely developed tools to assist you with your personal customer visits, but using those tools effectively to maximize your sales is something only you can do. Use these tips to boost your sales figures and turn your customers into cheerleaders.

Preset Your Customer

You already know that presenting your information to anyone who isn’t a decision-maker with the authority and means to purchase your product or service is a waste of time. Whether you’ve managed to get your actual customer on the phone or you’re stuck going through a gatekeeper, preset your customers to make your job easier.

Vague statements about your product won’t land you a coveted appointment, so you’ll need to plan a purpose statement your customer will find interesting and worthwhile. Further, you’ll need to establish their expectations of what will take place during an appointment they make with you.

Are you selling something that solves problems for your customers or does it make them feel good? Ultimately, every product and service falls into one of these two categories. By introducing an element that presets your customer to expect both of these qualities by seeing you, you’ll have an easier time getting the face time you need to make your sale.

“Mrs. Gatekeeper, I’d like to spend fifteen fun-filled minutes showing Mr. Decisionmaker a way he can save $3,000 monthly. He’d find that useful, wouldn’t he?” is a problem-solving preset. It lets Mr. Decisionmaker and his gatekeeper understand the benefit that may come from meeting with you, and lets them know how much time they would be investing in such an appointment. By adding the words “fun-filled,” it guides them to expect the presentation to have entertainment value as well. Using the word “informative” instead establishes an entirely different expectation that still meets the client’s feel-good emotional need to feel knowledgeable and competent while implying a solution to a problem.

Appointment requests that preset your customers’ expectations and offer them something to feel good about will be more effective than focusing on just the benefits of using your product.

Fulfill Your Promise

If you told the client you’d need fifteen minutes, don’t plan a forty-minute presentation. If you said it would be a fun appointment, make sure you’ve planned engaging aspects that your customer will describe to other people as having truly been fun.

Your company probably provides you useful tools to use for your presentation. Scripts engage the customer, permit demonstrations to give the product credibility, and further preset customer expectations. Some companies insist that their salespeople carefully adhere to the provided script. If you haven’t received a script, craft your own so you know you’re presenting all the important information about your product or service. In either case, go ahead and inject some personality to make your sales pitch more effective than it can otherwise be.

Each step of your presentation – listening to your customer’s needs, your introduction, credibility, demonstration, addressing objections, and asking for the sale – all provide opportunities to cement your relationship and fulfill the expectations you preset. If you pledged that it would be a fun appointment, intersperse humorous comments, examples, or activities within your script so your customer enjoys the time with you. If you pledged information, offer them additional tools that are relevant to them today. A recent news story about their industry that ties in with your presentation might be off-script. As long as you don’t omit from the script you’ve been provided, you can add value with related, up-to-date information that demonstrates to the customer that you kept your promise for valuable information.

Know When to Vary

Martin G. followed the rules carefully. In his twelfth year with his high-end water softener company, he’d become one of their top performers. His success was partly due to his strict adherence to the company’s prepared presentation, one they’d spent many thousands of dollars cultivating. It was a thorough, engaging, and impressive presentation that anticipated and removed objections long before the customer could raise them.

When Martin landed appointments, he was well prepared with water-testing demonstrations, facts about water quality and its effects on health, charts showing how softened water could save hundreds of dollars per year for the average family through lower use of cleaning products and decreased appliance repairs, and newspaper articles that contained glowing testimonials and impressive comparisons about his particular brand of water softener. He asked about his customers’ families, and told them just enough about his own family and experience to build rapport.

Martin found himself in front of a couple for which he wasn’t prepared, however. He’d planned to spend an hour with them, but within minutes, the woman asked, “How much is this system?”

Because Martin understood that price was the main customer objection to his product, he refused to answer her. “Let me go through this first, and then we’ll talk about that,” he said. By the time he finished his presentation, the couple had tuned him out completely. They’d already done their research and were prepared to purchase if the price was acceptable. However, because he’d failed to answer their concern, they spent most of the hour feeling trapped and disrespected. Martin lost the sale, and the reason had nothing to do with the product’s price.

If he’d recognized that the couple was preset to purchase a water softener, Martin could have saved time and gotten straight to one of the final points of his presentation. He’d have found himself at “addressing objections” or “asking for the sale” without generating hostility from the couple. Instead, he insisted on following his company’s rules to such a degree that he lost an important sale.

Understand your script’s purpose and if it can’t meet its purpose, be prepared to vary. Good scripts take uninformed customers and educate them. They gain interest, satisfy needs, and encourage people to take action. If even one of these steps if left out, a sale can be lost, so companies want to ensure that these important points are addressed by developing effective scripts. Whether written by your company or crafted by you, it’s generally smart to follow a well-designed script.

Sometimes it’s necessary to vary from the script to achieve the sale, however. While these variations should never include false statements, recognizing customers’ needs ahead of your company’s will help you make more sales and should take precedence over a canned approach. Your clients are ultimately the ones who enable your bigger paycheck, a fact worth remembering.

If you preset your customer’s expectations, deliver what you promise, and put your clients’ needs at the very front of every presentation, you’ll be exactly the person they want to buy from. What’s more, they’ll want to do business with you when they reorder and will recommend you to people they care about who can benefit from your product or service.

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