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One-on-One Selling: Preparation, Presentation and Overcoming Objections
Published on Jun 22, 2012
Read 'One-on-One Selling: Preparation, Presentation and Overcoming Objections' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
By Adam Toren
At some point, most small business owners will face one-on-one sales. If you’re facing the challenge of one-on-one selling, what you do before and during the sale can make the difference between success and failure. Below are three vital areas you must master to improve your chances of closing a deal. Add the right attitude and hard work, and you’ll land the sale every time!
Making a sale starts long before you walk in the office of a prospective customer. These steps will put you in the best position to succeed.
Understand your customer: This includes learning about the industry as well as the specific company. What challenges is the industry facing, is it growing or shrinking, is its product line new or mature, who are its customers, and most important, what can your product or service do to help your potential customers position themselves stronger in the industry? Is the company an industry leader or follower? Is it doing well financially or struggling? Google them and look for press releases, financial analyses, customer reviews, and articles or blogs in financial or industry publications and websites.
Also, if possible, find out what you can about the person or people you’ll be meeting with for the sale. Find out if he or she is the decision-maker for your company. If not, try to discover whether the person has a reputation as a gatekeeper – someone who is more interested in keeping people out than helping them gain access to the real decision-maker. Any shared interests?
Know your product/service thoroughly: Can you answer any question the customer may ask? Do you know the specs and performance parameters? Would it help to bring one of your technical people to address those issues? Have you set up a discount pricing schedule for large orders? What’s the fastest delivery time you can manage? What kind of payment schedule would be acceptable? Once you’re in front of a customer you don’t want to have to make these decisions – know everything you can ahead of time.
Have a selling plan: Don’t just focus on features – features don’t sell. Instead, put together a list of real benefits your company can offer your sales target. Take the knowledge you’ve collected and connect it to the benefits you can offer. If they’re financially hurting, maybe you can offer a better price than the competition or better payment terms. If they’re swamped, quick delivery may be the most important benefit.
Practice: If you’ve never made this sales pitch before, don’t go in cold. Rehearse until you have your info solid and don’t have to refer to any notes. Then get a friend or colleague or two to sit through your pitch. Have them ask the toughest questions they can come up with and work on good answers.
Slide shows: Will you be using PowerPoint or some other presentation software? Make sure you have strong visuals and keep slides to fewer than six lines of text at the absolute most. Every slide should drive the sale or it doesn’t belong. Keep the presentation to five minutes or less and have the PowerPoint support you, not the other way around. If you’re using their equipment, arrive early and check it out and set everything up. If possible, use your own projector and laptop – you’re less likely to have technical problems. Put your PowerPoint program on the desktop of your laptop and use a laser pointer and mouse so you can stand away from the computer. Personalize the presentation to the customer.
Materials: You don’t need a PowerPoint presentation if you’re not comfortable with it or if there are only one or two people in the meeting. You can provide color images of any key visuals such as a photo of the product or a close-up of an instrument panel. Provide some simple materials that support your presentation. Make sure they are in color, well-designed, and contained in a professional folder.
To start: Introduce yourself and anyone else you brought from your company. Take the time to organize and share your materials before you begin the sales process. Accept refreshments if they’re offered.
Listen: This is particularly important for a first meeting. You may have done your homework, but your best insights will come from the people in the room. Ask open questions about any aspects of their business that will help you understand how to approach them and be a good supplier. Don’t hesitate to adjust your presentation based on insights you get on the spot.
Be honest: If you don’t know something, say so, and then promise to get the answer. If you can’t do something, tell them, and then offer alternatives. Long-term business relationships rely on integrity.
Looking for and Overcoming Objections
No matter how wonderful your products or services are, customers will have objections. It’s your job to ferret those out and address them. Most sales are lost to unspoken objections, and the ability to uncover them represents the difference between a decent and a great salesperson. By listening, you may discover their concerns, and often these reflect possible objections. Also, don’t hesitate to ask them what they like and don’t like about your offering. Many times their objections are easily addressed.
Now, if you ask them for objections and they say there aren’t any, your final tool is to ask for the sale. You’d be surprised at how many people stop before this step. Don’t make that mistake. If the answer is no, then you know there are hidden objections. Don’t leave until you probe for those concerns. The worst that will happen is you will lose the sale anyway. In the best case scenario, you may be able to change their minds, or you can discover a problem you can address before your next sales call.
The most important lesson of sales is this: You have to weather many No answers to get to the Yes sales. Don’t get discouraged. Just pick yourself up and head to your next one-on-one sales call.