One of my colleagues, Lisa Magnuson, founder of Top Line Sales, interviewed me for a blog she recently published in her newsletter. The topic centered on how often sales conversations are all about the seller and not the buyer. Lisa asked me for the straight scoop on why this DOES NOT work and what to do about it. Read on if you want the dos and don’ts to improve your customer and prospect interactions.
Lisa: Janice, thanks for joining us. Why is this topic near and dear to your heart?
Janice: How many times have you seen a sales rep’s presentation be all about them and very little, if anything, about the customer? It has always baffled me as to why anyone believes this is the right thing to do. In many cases, marketing has prepared standard template presentations for the sales reps to use. Yes, it saves the sales rep time to prepare, but does it provide any value to the customer or prospect? Probably not.
Lisa: So why do sales reps fall into this trap?
Janice: Lisa, it boggles my mind that this still occurs. I realize the sales rep is trying to increase their credibility by showing how long they have been in business and how many customers they have. For example, I have seen slides with hundreds of customer logos in an attempt to show how many people use their products and services. However, I believe this information needs to be presented sparingly and with the customer/prospect in mind. What I mean by this is that it may be relevant and could possibly be used to build credibility, but it should be used wisely.
Lisa: What can sales reps do differently when presenting to a customer or prospect?
Janice: I am never a big advocate of presenting in a first meeting, before an adequate discovery has been done to understand what the customer is trying to accomplish and why, where it sits in their list of priorities, how they may have solved the problem in the past, what concerns they may have, etc. In many cases, you can get this information in advance from one or more people when you are doing your initial discovery. However, invariably, there are additional people in attendance in a first meeting. This is an excellent time to validate what you have learned and gain additional insight from the group in attendance. This allows the meeting to be all about the customer or prospect and less about the sales rep. The sales rep’s presentation after this additional discovery should be tailored to what was previously learned with pertinent information weaved in as required. If your firm provides a standard template presentation, then tie in specific facts about your company that correlate to the information the customer/prospect provided to ensure relevancy to that customer/prospect. For example, if you have a PowerPoint slide with your customers’ logos, point out a few where you provided similar products and services to solve similar business problems. Make each conversation relevant and specific to the customer you’re talking to.
Lisa: Janice, thanks for getting to the core of the issue in such short order. Great suggestions!
Many thanks to Lisa Magnuson for this blog. Lisa is an expert in corporate strategic sales and TOP Line Account™ revenue building. As a respected sales consultant and author, Lisa works with clients to build successful strategic sales programs that drive revenue from large new accounts and enable growth from existing high value customers. Learn more at www.toplinesales.com.