Tag Archive | "sales presentation"

The Science Behind the Sale

Bart Carpenter is not a trained psychologist, but he does have some insights into the human mind that he thinks could be useful to agents. At Agent Summit 2012, he presented “Increasing Product Sales Through Customer-Tailored Presentations,” a workshop designed to help give agents a new edge in their presentations to dealers.

Carpenter’s approach begins with collecting subtle clues to determine each customer’s communication style, then applying proven techniques to build relationships and overcome resistance. “It’s a skill, not a process,” he says. “From an agency standpoint, it’s about trying to get products in dealerships and trying to get them to sell it.”

Mr. Personality

Carpenter currently serves as director of training and consulting for GSFSGroup in Houston. He got his start in the auto industry after moving from his native Mississippi in 1987. He first worked his way up to management level at a major dealer group, then made stops at Half A Car and Joe Verde’s Training Network before going to work for Toyota Motor Corp. in 2003.

Carpenter was part of the team that launched Toyota’s Scion marque. Carpenter’s job was to “train the trainers,” and it was this experience that helped shaped his methods. Scion’s marketing was aimed squarely at the youth market, and the new cars were sold under the “Pure Price” model.

“When you can’t negotiate, that puts the salesperson back in the game,” Carpenter says. “What will make the dealership stand out is selling value.”

When he joined GSFSGroup in 2006, the company asked him to put that revelation to use. Carpenter led a team that developed a training curriculum based on selling the value of F&I products. The key point for agents, he says, is to focus not on how you sell, but why the dealer buys.

Deep Thinking

In many cases, GSFS’s method requires agents to put aside much of what they think they know about the selling process. Human beings are, by nature, reluctant to change, and dealers are no different. To break through the wall of resistance, Carpenter offers a four-step process.

Step 1: Consider the science behind decision-making. Agents who start their presentations by listing the product’s features and benefits may be putting themselves at a serious disadvantage. Carpenter says that decisions are made “from the inside out,” and one must first appeal to the internal, subconscious part of the brain. “It is what Simon Sinek calls the ‘Golden Circle,’” he says. “Think about buying a car. It’s an emotional decision looking for logical justification.”

To target the part of the brain that controls decisions and behavior, look for reasons why a dealer might feel the need for a change. Ask about the strength of the support behind their current lineup. Is the dealer getting the support, service and training they need? How about pricing? “They won’t see the change or be willing to change unless they see the need,” Carpenter says.

Step 2: Recognize the decision-maker’s communication style. As illustrated in the chart below, there are four basic types of communicators, and everyone falls into at least one category. “Some people I can pick up on in a matter of seconds; some take three or four visits,” Carpenter says. “The majority you can identify in minutes.”

Personality Grid

Those minutes are spent asking open-ended questions that demonstrate genuine interest and keep the dealer talking. Pay attention to the pace: If they answer quickly, they’re most likely “dominant” or “influential.” Slower answers indicate a “conscientious” or “steady” type. But those aren’t the only clues. Carpenter also looks for key words and phrases, volume and body language.

Step 3: Learn how to read each type. Dominant types like to control the conversation, solve problems and get immediate results. Conscientious communicators prize quality and accuracy, and they ask a lot of “why” questions. Influential customers tend to be democratic and optimistic, and they don’t like to be slowed down by details. Steady types are sincere, helpful and conflict-averse.

But what does all that mean to an agent? Better communication, a quicker rapport and greater influence, Carpenter says, once you’ve mastered the final step.

Step 4: Personalize your presentation. Tell your dominant clients how your product solves their problems. To the influential, explain how it will make their dealership more competitive. Tell the conscientious how it reduces risk. For the steady, explain why the results will be more predictable.

By taking in all the information and details and tailoring your presentation to your client, Carpenter says, you will close more deals and create more productive dealers. In short, he says, “Get on the same wavelength.”

The Breakthrough

If you tell Carpenter that this theory of sales sounds a little too touchy-feely for you, your agency or your dealer clients, he won’t mind. But he will point out that GSFS has trained scores of F&I managers on the same process, and the results have been good: On average, their students have enjoyed a 10 percent increase in vehicle service contract sales and a $200 boost to their profit per retail unit.

“We don’t teach it as a process,” Carpenter says. “We teach it without putting a label on it. We just teach them to ask questions and pay attention to what they hear and see.”

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Winning Demonstrations

When it comes time to demonstrate a vehicle, you need to be very well prepared. Too many automotive salespeople invest most of their preparation time in vehicle knowledge. While that knowledge is very important, investing time thinking about how to actually demonstrate vehicles so their clients quickly envision themselves as owners is just as important. There are very specific things you can do to accelerate their acceptance of a vehicle thus leading to more closed sales.

Before getting to the demonstration, you have to use your other selling skills well. Let’s say you did just that. You used some of your excellent prospecting methods to find a couple who needs a new vehicle. You made a competent original contact and warmed them up nicely. They seem very comfortable with you. You qualified then as to their needs by asking the right questions and are confident you have a vehicle that will truly be good for them.

Now, it’s time for the show to begin…and you are the master of ceremonies. Are you properly prepared for this step in the sales process?

Giving a winning demonstration is not unlike presenting at the Oscars. It’s not easy preparing for such a major event. Even tougher is performing before all of the best and brightest in Hollywood, not to mention the millions of television viewers. You may never have to face such a challenge. However, every demonstration you make can potentially earn you the award of a new client, a hefty addition to the company’s bottom line and a nice little “fee for service” for you and your loved ones to enjoy. Always keep the potential reward in mind when you are preplanning a demonstration. That reward or goal should be inspiration enough to keep you working on honing your demonstration skills until they are as smooth as silk.

Knowing the decision-maker’s history, his or her likes and dislikes will help you direct your demonstration in a manner that will be most acceptable. In some cases, you may get the feeling that the decision-maker is challenging you to demonstrate and present an offer better than he or she can decline. They may come across like this, “Okay, Mr. /Ms. Professional Salesperson, you’ve got my attention and you have 20 minutes to show me why I should part with my hard-earned money for what you have to offer.” It’s almost like a dare with some people. So, you have to be prepared to dazzle them during your demonstration.

It’s important that you note here that the vehicle is the star of your demonstration. You are not. View yourself as a sort of matchmaker. The two parties you believe are a perfect match for one another are your product and this prospective client. It’s your job to introduce them and give them an opportunity to get to know each other.

Many salespeople falter and lose sales because they try to make themselves the stars of the demonstration. They want to show how well they know the vehicle. They spout off technical information about engine size, fuel economy, and handling that may be of little or no interest to the client. In fact, the client may not even understand what they’re saying.

Learn this now. Get yourself out of the picture. Let the vehicle shine! The people you are demonstrating to should be up close and personal with the vehicle. If they ask a question about the navigation system, tell them which buttons to push to make it work. Don’t do it for them! The same goes for any other buttons, dials or displays in the vehicle. You are the tour guide…not the chauffeur! If you’re not getting your potential buyers directly and personally involved with the vehicle, you’re not selling. You’re showing. You need to get yourself off that stage and be the one directing the performance instead.

When it comes to discussing service or warranties, be sure to have brochures and other items to hand to the decision-makers that provide the details you will deliver verbally. Hand them your calculator to run the numbers for any questions that come up. Show testimonial letters from other satisfied clients. This creates both physical and emotional involvement. And the more involvement you get during the presentation, the more comfortable they’ll be with long term involvement with your vehicle.

At the very least, have the stories about other clients who purchased this type of vehicle in mind and how happy they are with it. Perhaps the experience of others might be just what’s needed to help this new client off the fence and into the driver’s seat.

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Five Strategies for a Winning Sales Presentation

We’ve all seen it–people listening to a sales presentation, eyes glazed over and their minds anywhere but on what the speaker is saying. As an entrepreneur, whether you’re selling yourself or your products and services, it’s critical to avoid the missteps that put prospects to sleep and kill the deal. Here are five must-follow rules to win over prospects and seal the deal.

1. Listen before pitching. One of the mistakes business owners make is talking too much about the wonders of their company, instead of asking questions and listening to a potential customer’s needs. Your prospect probably did some research about you beforehand anyway, so don’t waste precious minutes going on about your qualifications. “Nothing is more annoying than when someone is pitching you, and it’s all about them, their products,” says Jared Reitzin, founder of mobileStorm, a Los Angeles-based provider of Web-based email and mobile and social communication platforms.

Kyla O’Connell, vice president of business development and sales trainer for Washington, D.C.-based Asher Sales Strategies, suggests opening your presentation with a question like, “I’m prepared to discuss our solution for you, but has anything changed since we last spoke?” or “Is there anything else I need to know before diving into a solution?” Before long, Reitzen says, “The customer will give you the key to how you can win the deal. You just need to ask enough questions and then shut up.”

2. Put in more prep time. No matter how good you are at thinking on your feet, don’t wing the presentation. You’ll risk jumping all over the place without a logical flow, says Terri Sjodin, founder of Sjodin Communications, a sales training and consulting firm in Newport Beach, Calif. Take the time to prepare and to practice from an outline, making sure your presentation covers all your points clearly and concisely, suggests Sjodin, who is also the author of Small Message, Big Impact (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2011).

Reitzin says he always reviews a prospect’s website to learn about what it sells, how it makes money and how he might be able to fix its problems. He also checks for any mutual connections on LinkedIn. “I will give them a call or shoot them an email asking more about the prospect’s personality and what I could say that would make the meeting successful,” he says. “Sometimes people will give you a heads up with how you should approach the prospect, and it can be invaluable.”

3. Liven it up. Many professionals don’t realize just how boring their presentations are–too many facts, a flat monotone, tired stories. “Sometimes professionals have been giving the same presentation for so long they just slip into autopilot,” Sjodin says. “In today’s competitive market, your presentations must be entertaining in order to obtain and maintain the attention of prospects.”

Be creative and put some energy behind your presentation. Sjodin suggests practicing with a tape recorder to determine if your presentation falters and make improvements. “The tone you use and your vocal variation allow you to project your own personality and to create a positive response whether you are speaking to one person or a large group of people,” she says.

4. Don’t use visual aids as a crutch. If brochures, handouts or slides could sell a product or service on their own, companies would not need salespeople. “Depending too much on visual aids can give us a false sense of security,” Siodin says. “We tend to think it isn’t necessary to prepare thoroughly because our props will lead us right through the presentation. We let the visual aid become the star and virtually run the show.”

Strategically place visual aids in your presentation to highlight major points, but remember that your style and personality will have much more impact. Most important, ask yourself whether a visual aid is for you or for them? “If it’s for you to get you through your presentation, scrap it,” Sjodin says. “If it’s for them so they can visually understand your presentation, keep it.”

5. Be ready to take the next step. Not every presentation is going to end with a sale, so it’s up to you to establish the next step in the process. Zak Dabbas, cofounder and managing partner of Punchkick Interactive Inc., a Chicago-based mobile marketing firm, says one of his biggest mistakes early in his career was concluding meetings with a “we hope to talk again soon” mentality.

“The executives we speak with are incredibly busy,” he says, “and we realized that we need to determine next steps right then and there–before life gets in the way.” Be ready to schedule a subsequent meeting or follow-up phone call, which will show you’re serious about working together. “You may not have the sale yet,” O’Connell says, “but you at least have something set up so things can continue to move forward.”

This article was written by Lisa Girard and published in Entrepreneur magazine.

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