Tag Archive | "Sales"

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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Caution…Speed Kills Sales

I’ve been playing golf for a few years, but no matter how long I play, the hardest concept I have to buy into and the hardest habit I have to break to hit the ball farther – is to swing easier, not harder.

For me, swinging the club is usually an aerobic workout. But when I do slow down, I have more control, my ball goes farther and my scores drop. The same is true in sales because…Speed Kills!

When we survey individual salespeople, dealers or managers at dealerships who’ve seen their sales improve, one of the main reasons is…

They slowed down the sales process!

Selling more has never been about needing more prospects, it’s always been about the quality of the time you spend with prospects you have now.

One salesperson in our industry who earns over $100,000 a year selling cars told us recently, “Joe, I just slow down, listen to my customers and they tell me everything I need to do to sell the car.”

That’s a very modest statement coming from such a high achiever. Of course, we all know he has to have the selling skills to back it up. Just listening or spending time with prospects won’t equal more sales.

We hear the same thing: “I just follow The New Basics” from almost everyone in our business who is making dramatic improvements they truly understand that “Closing is a process, not a question” and they start to focus on each step to the sale.

I constantly talk about The New Basics, because they’re the secret to more sales.

There are a few catches to being able to follow the ‘Basics.’ The Warm-Up stage is critical, so you have to have a good appearance and a great attitude to make a great first impression (Step 1). You have to develop your questioning and listening skills or you can’t greet the customer properly, build rapport or investigate to find their wants and needs (Steps 2, 3 and 4), and you need to learn how to stay off price.

If you don’t complete steps 1-4 correctly, by default, you can’t possibly do a good job in the next four presentation steps of the Value Building stage and that means you surely can’t pull it all together for the third and final stage … Closing the Sale.

Having a prospect is an opportunity to make a sale. Following the Basics a step at a time increases your chances of making that sale and dramatically improves your gross on every delivery. But the faster you go, the less likely you are to properly complete each step.

Buying is a process, and it’s about value, not price. Closing is a process, too – not just a question.

That’s why every on the lot program the manufacturers come up with to speed up the selling process fails. That’s also why the rebate and incentive wars just aren’t working that well anymore. And that’s why in my lifetime, people will never buy the majority of their vehicles off the Internet without driving them first.

Everybody in sales wants a shortcut, though – so here are your shortcuts to more sales, higher gross profits and long-term success!

1. Follow The New Basics correctly with every prospect you talk to.

2. Learn how to ask the right questions at the right time, to keep the sale moving forward and focused on value, not price.

3. Learn how to close the sale and overcome your prospect’s buying objections without focusing on price.

4. Get a dozen solid commitments to purchase (that are not based on price) so that you have “total mental ownership” before you start the paperwork and any negotiation.

5. Remember that you sell (and the prospect buys) with emotion and you negotiate (and the customer agrees) based on logic.

Learn to sell and slow down, so you can sell more cars!

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You Often Say “Improve and Grow” or “Sell More and Grow,” but if you Improve and Sell More, Don’t You Grow?

Great question! I agree, it sounds like if you improve and/or sell more, you would grow by default. Unfortunately, that isn’t always true.

Figuring out how to sell another car is one of the easiest things we talk about. In fact, in classes I always ask, “How’d you like to sell more cars, have more fun and make more money?” And then I remind everyone in the room that they already know how to do that.

It’s easy to sell more – just train and manage your salespeople to do a better job with customers, teach them how to close, make them ‘go to work’ at work, get them to follow-up with everyone who left without buying, and manage your (expensive) leads correctly.

Selling more is a no-brainer. Growing – now that’s a different story.

Short-Term Event vs. Long-Term Process. Selling more is a short-term vent, while growth is a long-term process. You can sell another car this afternoon just by getting your salespeople to talk to an extra customer, make more calls or write up another prospect. To grow this year, you will also have to follow today’s plan in the growth process.

Growth example: Deliver 1,500 units in 2011 vs. 1,200 in 2010 (300 more)!

Selling more units today requires selling activities that generate a sale today. Selling 300 more units for the year requires a quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily management activity plan to make sure your salespeople consistently do all of their sales activities.

If management does their job (daily management activities), salespeople will do their job (daily sales activities).

Salesperson’s Activity List: How To Sell More Today

These are the daily sales activities that when followed, guarantee sales everyday:

  • Come to work to work. Leave the problems at the curb, tell the family to stop calling so you can bring home more money, and stay out of the huddle.
  • Do your ‘good morning’ walk through the dealership. Say “hello” to all of the employees and customers.
  • Walk the lot right away. Inventory changes and moves around daily, so you have to know what you have and where it is so you don’t miss a sale.
  • Check your appointments and your ‘to do’ list for the day and get to work.
  • Review your key goals – all of them, every day. Keep your goals on a 3×5 card or in the ‘notes’ on your smartphone and read them several times a day.
  • Go through your working prospect files in your CRM or Monthly Planning Guide. When you’re just sitting around waiting for a customer, get busy and check your call backs for the day.
  • Using your 45/90 day retention plan, call all of your sold customers.
  • Prospect. When you aren’t with a customer or making a follow-up call with a customer, use the referral script in your CRM and start dialing for dollars.
  • Track everything you do in the planner and CRM – everything. Why? So you can spot what’s working and what you need to improve.

To sell more units every day – train, coach and manage your salespeople daily.

Management’s Activity List: How To Reach Your Daily Sales Goals

Check the statements you agree with.

If salespeople are basically unmanaged:

  1. They’ll do everything we just covered.
    • All salespeople will do everything on their daily activity list every day.
    • Some salespeople will do everything on their daily activity list every day.
    • A few salespeople will do everything on their daily activity list every day.
    • No salespeople will do everything on their daily activity list every day.
  2. They’ll only do some things we just covered.
    • All salespeople will do some things on their daily activity list every day.
    • Some salespeople will do some things on their daily activity list every day.
    • A few salespeople will do some things on their daily activity list every day.
  3. Most salespeople will not do most things on their daily activity list we just covered every day.

Because they will never do everything on their own, it’s important to understand:

  1. You’re in charge of the group of salespeople, but you have to learn to manage each individual in sales.
  2. You don’t manage people or results, you manage what the people do (their activities) that will generate results.
  3. You continually manage each person’s activities throughout the day, not just in a quick one-on-one or a morning meeting with the group.
  4. You don’t get what you wish would happen or expect people to do. You only get results from the activities you inspect, manage and require each day.

Solution: First define, then train, inspect, manage and require critical daily activities, and you’ll sell more every day.

But doesn’t that mean you grew?

Yes – you grew. If you were at 1,200 units last year (100 per month) and if you got your salespeople to do their job each day – you would have had more sales, higher gross, more retention, lower expenses and you’d have reached your next level in sales. So yes, you grew, and it was significant; somewhere in the 50 percent range.

Understand the word ‘growing.’ Growing is a continuous process, not just a one-time event.

Yes – you’ve grown and now you’re at your new level. To keep growing, the dictionary defines growth as ‘developing.’

Developed means you have grown (past tense), developing means you are growing (present tense). So yes you grew, and now it’s time to stabilize and then set another growth goal and create a step-by-step plan to continue developing your skills and activities, so your dealership can grow again to your next level.

Continuous growth is exactly what we’ve done at Joe Verde Sales & Management Training, Inc., for the last 25 years. We’ve grown (reached new levels) 22 of the 25 years. Our average growth rate for 25 years is 55.9 percent per year, including recessions. We can grow – and so can you.

At this point, I’ll assume two things:

  1. You realize that to increase sales you have to learn how to train, coach, inspect and manage your salespeople’s daily activities.
  2. You understand that growth is a continuous process, based on developing yourselves and your salespeople.

Now what management skills and activities affect your salespeople’s development?

How To Control Your Growth: Management Skills & Activities

Skills you have to continue developing in management to continually improve in sales, gross, profit and retention:

  1. You have to have clear processes so people know what they have to do, and therefore, you know exactly what you will train, coach, inspect and manage each day.
  2. You have to hire the right people and fire the ones who can’t, don’t or won’t learn more, do more, sell more. You cannot grow with the wrong employees in sales or management.
  3. Once you have processes and procedures, you have to train, coach and manage your salespeople every day to develop their core skills and to continue developing their related skills.
  4. You have to track every number that affects a sale, gross, profit and retention. If you don’t inspect every area, you can’t focus on the right activities.
  5. You have to motivate your salespeople, as individuals. In class, dealers and managers discover that management and bad processes demotivate salespeople 5 to 1 versus motivating them to higher levels.
  6. You have to have clear goals, but you can’t set clear goals until you track everything. Tracking + Goals = Success.
  7. Every manager has to become a leader, period. Weak management will not generate growth. Stop saying ‘yeah but’ and get to class, so you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, and what skills you need so you can rate your management skills and personal strengths – and then improve. Also read my book for dealers and managers: “Recovery & Growth.”

I said ‘you have to’ in nearly every statement above, because if you don’t do everything on the list above without exception, you will not grow year after year.

I hope you’re starting to understand that selling another car is easy, but growth takes new skills and new habits.

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Objections Equal Desire

Early in my selling career, I had this dream. In it, I met with a married couple to offer my product – and they were so wonderful! They thoroughly enjoyed my presentation. They agreed to everything I mentioned. They didn’t ask any questions or give any objections. The whole transaction was completed and in record time. They approved everything, gave me several qualified leads and thanked me as they left my office. What a wonderful dream!

Somehow, I don’t think I was alone in having a dream of that sort. Most new salespeople think that’s what selling is like. Unfortunately, some veteran salespeople keep looking for that dream to come true as well, and it holds them back from achieving the level of success that’s possible with a bit of education.

I begin every seminar by reminding my students that there are seven steps in the selling process.

  1. Prospecting
  2. Original Contact
  3. Qualification
  4. Presentation
  5. Handling Objections
  6. Closing
  7. Getting Referrals

Please take note that handling objections is a step. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any salesperson.

Understanding how to handle objections is critical to your success. But, before we go any further, let me help you change your perspective about them. When you hear the word “objection,” do you think of lawyers jumping out of their seats on television? They’re effectively stopping the forward movement of a trial. It’s an interruption.

It’s human nature to object, hesitate, stall or procrastinate when making any decision that impacts our money. We have to feel absolutely confident that what we are replacing that money with will give us all the benefits we want. I know that’s true about me, so why should I expect my prospective clients to be any different?

My success rate in sales increased tremendously when I came to expect to hear concerns instead of fearing them. When I began to listen for them, to anticipate their arrival, I was amazed to learn that I was hearing basically the same three or four concerns in nearly every situation. That’s when I began doing some serious analysis. I spent a few hours thinking about each of those concerns. Why were my prospects saying these things and what could I do or say to help them get comfortably past these points?

I began by putting myself in their positions and discovered most prospects were objecting because of one basic emotion that was being triggered: FEAR. They were afraid to make an irreversible decision. They were afraid to make a commitment with their money. They were afraid the product wouldn’t live up to their expectations. They were afraid I was a “take-the-money-and-run” salesperson whom they’d never be able to reach again when they had questions about my product after they owned it.

You see, concerns are defense mechanisms. They are ways for clients to tell you you’re moving too fast. They are ways the clients tell you they need more information before they can feel confident about going ahead with the vehicle.

I teach two don’ts and one do for handling every concern.

  1. DON’T argue. If this sounds silly to you, good. You already know this. But, even though you know it, do you fight with them in the back of your mind? If you do, eventually it will begin to show. When potential buyers object, they’re asking for more information. If the salesperson gets upset, sarcastic or applies pressure, he or she is, in essence, killing the sale.
  2. DON’T attack when you address concerns. Learn to develop a sensitivity as to how your potential buyers feel when they voice their concerns. Show your own concern for helping them, not a determination to prove them wrong. If you start fighting their feelings, their negative emotions will take over. Defense barriers will go up and you’ll have to work twice as hard to earn their business.
  3. DO lead them to address their own concerns. A true professional always tries to help buyers answer their own objections. Most prospects will do just that given time and a little more information. After all, deep down they want to go ahead. They wouldn’t waste their time objecting to something they didn’t want to own, would they? So, your job when you hear a concern is to ask the client to elaborate on it. Say something like this, “Mrs. Smith, obviously you have a reason for saying that. Would you mind sharing it with me?” This will get her talking about what’s behind her concern. Once you understand what’s really holding her back, you’ll be able to address that issue.

In many cases, when clients do elaborate on what’s bothering them, they’ll talk themselves right through the concern and set it aside without you ever having to say anything. Oftentimes, addressing a concern only involves reviewing points you already covered in a brief summary of your presentation.

The key is to stay calm and keep questioning what’s holding them back in a gentle, concerned manner until you find the real concern. Then, you address it and move on to closing the transaction.

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How Important are the First Impressions Customers Have of Your Dealership?

You can’t afford to miss even one sale these days, and we all know first impressions make or break sales. So let’s talk about some of the first impressions your prospects have of your dealership. You work there, so you may not see what they see anymore. Have an out of body experience – walk through and look at things through their eyes…

The first impressions your customers have of your dealership…

  • Will their first impression from your advertising be about how cheap you are or will they see why they should buy from your dealership (value)?
  • When they’re about to pull onto your lot, as they glance at your dealership for the first time, what do they see: a nice clean well-lit place, or something else?
  • When they first see your sales force as a group – do they see professionals or do they see a bunch of car salesmen in the huddle, just waiting to pounce?
  • As your salesperson approaches them, by their appearance, does the prospect see a professional or a …???
  • Is each salesperson’s approach timely and positive with a smile, or do customers see a salesperson with coffee in one hand, sunglasses, bad wardrobe and a prank tie from the kids at Christmas?
  • When they first see your inventory, is it a value building experience or do they see a messy lot, dirty cars, dead balloons and price signs everywhere?
  • When they drive a vehicle, is it clean, gassed and ready, or the opposite?
  • When they walk through service, will they see a clean shop and meet nice people or just the opposite?
  • When your salespeople try to close the sale, do customers hear a car salesman or a professional in sales?
  • The first time they walk into your showroom; is it clean and professional or has it gotten tired and messy?
  • When they see the salesperson’s office, is it clean and professional or does it look like a closing booth?
  • As the salesperson starts the paperwork, are they trained and confident or clueless and clumsy?
  • Is the first offer from the desk just some scribbled stuff that’s barely legible or is it clear and spelled out?
  • First offer: is it the old school ridiculous ‘hit ‘em high and peel them off the ceiling’ stuff or just the next step in your professional sales process?
  • When they first meet a manager on a T.O., will they see a professional or think, “Are you kidding, is that guy in charge?”
  • What will they hear from management? Will it be professional or just more fast talk and price closing?
  • Transition to F&I: will there be a professional transition or a salesperson yelling, “Hey Larry, are you ready for my deal?”
  • F&I: will they meet a caring, helpful professional or another amateur?
  • Salesperson delivery: will it be professional and effective or “Hurry up and leave so I can get another person up?”
  • Their first contact after delivery: will it be professional and timely, none at all or more amateurish car stuff?
  • First service contact: will it be professional, prearranged and effective or will it feel rushed and ‘who’s next?’

If the first six are negative, won’t those influence how they see the other fifteen?

I hope you realize, the customers’ first impressions will make or break sales in every department, every day.

Remember: You never get a second chance to make a great first impression!

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Artful Questioning

Many automotive salespeople, who haven’t yet reached the professional stage, think professional selling is exactly the opposite of what it really is. They get started. They learn the product and what the special offers are, then push them on the next client who comes into the dealership.

When you entered the selling field, you may have thought, “Now my job is to talk and talk and talk.” So off you go. “Here it is folks. The single best answer to your driving needs. Oh, you’re going to love it. You’d better get one now before we run out of inventory!”

The professional automotive salesperson, the true champion, realizes that people have two ears and one mouth, and that they should be used in those proportions. This means that after talking for 10 seconds, you switch your mouth off, switch your ears on, and listen for 20 seconds. This also means that instead of overwhelming your future client with your knowledge of the automotive industry and your particular line of vehicles that, you encourage them to tell you what they know, what they need and what they want.

Let’s compare the two methods.

The average salesperson sounds something like this:

  • “This is the best truck there is on the market today. Nothing can touch it. We’ve also got the best deals because we’re miles ahead of the competition. You’d might as well get it now and not waste your time looking any further.”
  • “Our dealership will do more for you than any of the others. You really should buy from us.”
  • “This special pricing is only available for a few more days. Why waste your time shopping around? You can’t get anything like this for less.”

When salespeople say things like that, they’re doing nothing more than adding to the old stereotype of car salespeople as being right up there with lawyers on the list of people you least want to spend your time with.

When they use such aggressive methods, what are they doing? They’re pushing, aren’t they? They’re nagging, pleading, arguing. They’re telling potential clients things they may not care to hear. They’re trying to ram obvious self-serving statements down the potential clients’ throats. In effect, they are saying, “I’m out to make you buy something. The only reason I’m doing that is to put money in my pocket, and I don’t care whether what you buy helps you or not. I’ve got a quota to meet.”

True champions, those who make successful long-term careers in the automotive business realize that telling isn’t selling. Champion salespeople never make customers feel they’re being pushed for the simple reason that they never push. What they do instead is lead. They find out by asking questions where the buyer wants to go. Then, they take them there.

Champions lead their prospects from the initial contact to happy involvement in new or used vehicles by not talking all of the time, but by listening most of the time, and by asking artful questions. In all this alert and pointed questioning, the true professional maintains a friendly attitude of interest and understanding that encourages the prospect to open up and give the desired information freely.

They ask questions about the current vehicle or vehicles they own. They ask about past vehicles the clients may have loved. Current needs as to length of time on the road, number of passengers, cargo space requirements, safety and economy are all considered. Top professionals come across as expert advisors whose only focus is finding the right vehicle at the right investment involving the shortest time period possible. It’s all about the time and convenience of the client.

Have you ever been surprised at how freely you’ve talked to certain salespeople before buying from them? They were alert and interested. You felt comfortable with them. Recalling those conversations, you may think you were leading and the salesperson was following. Superficially, that may have been true. In a deeper sense, however, that professional salesperson was leading all the way and you were following all the way.

How did that happen? The champion sales professional encourages you to start off in your direction of interest. Once you set your direction, he or she gets smoothly in front and begins to lead you toward any of several open paths to purchase. When artful questioning reveals which of the several paths is best, the champion guides you smoothly and warmly to the best solution they have to offer for your needs. Because you don’t feel you’re being sold, you are choosing to own!

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