I’m a big fan of a Canadian television show called the Dragon’s Den. The premise of the show has budding entrepreneurs pitch their product or business idea to five venture capitalists who then decide if they are willing to offer funding.
This is a great example of selling because the business owners are asking for large amounts of money (from 50-400 thousand dollars). The smart entrepreneurs get it. The majority don’t. The people who get the funding generally have a much stronger approach and are more effective in their appeal.
As a sales professional, you face a dragon when you meet with decision makers in the organizations you prospect and present to. Your sale may not be worth one hundred thousand dollars but that doesn’t diminish the importance of your meeting or presentation. But, if you don’t deliver, your competition might be able to steal the business away from you. Here are five strategies to consider when you face your dragon.
Be prepared. Too many people in sales think that they can “shoot from the hip” during their presentations. I used to be one of those individuals and although I generated good results, my performance improved when I invested more time planning my strategy and approach. Preparation starts with researching your prospect so you have an excellent understanding of his or hers business challenges. Most sales people do not do enough research before meeting with their prospect. In many cases, they expect their prospect to give them information about their company that could easily have been discovered in the company’s website or annual report or a quick search on the Internet.
Preparation also includes developing high-quality questions to ask that will help you better position your product, service or solution, determining what materials or props will enhance your meeting, and the approach that will best work with each prospect.
You also need to prepare for questions. See the last point in this article for more information and details.
Clarify your value proposition.Most sales presentations focus on the seller’s product, service or solution. This is one of the biggest mistakes sales people make. They believe that their customer cares about awards, nominations, or the features of their product or service. Wrong!
Your value proposition MUST focus on your prospect’s interests, not yours. Smart sales people concentrate on their prospect’s goals and they can clearly articulate the benefit of their offering in terms that relate to their prospect. They discuss solutions in business terminology such as; reduced costs, increased sales, improved morale, faster time to market, etc.
Your value proposition clearly needs to show the business results your product, service or solution achieves. It is not sufficient to say, “We help companies save money.” You need to be precise. Exactly how much money can you save n organization? And, can you prove it? That leads us to our next point.
Give proof. In most cases, the entrepreneurs who succeed in achieving funding from the “Dragons” have a track record of sales. In your case, you need to give proof of your product’s ability. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through testimonials.
Risk is a big factor that influences a buyer’s decision to do business with you. Do you have case studies and actual testimonials that your prospect can review? Because sales training is an intangible, I am often asked for references of satisfied clients. I have many I can chose from and give each prospect the names and contact information of current and previous clients so they can contact them directly. Plus, I adapt each list to meet the needs of each prospect. For example, if I am being asked to conduct a program on negotiating, I give my prospect a list of customers for whom I have conducted a similar program.
Stay calm. The “Dragons” on the television show are very direct—often blunt—when they ask questions and many of the would-be entrepreneurs get flustered and lose focus. It is critical to recognize that executives are used to asking tough questions in a direct manner which means you need to be prepared for this. That’s part of your initial preparation.
Anticipate potential objections. If you don’t address your prospect’s specific needs with your offering, you can count on hearing objections. Anticipate these obstacles and determine what you will do or say to move past them.
Here is a tip that will help you respond more effectively to objections: Rather than respond immediately, restate the prospect’s question. This gives you an additional moment or two to think of your response. However, if you have planned your approach, you will not be caught off-guard by these objections.
Close more sales by applying these five strategies when you have to face your dragons.
Copyright 2008 Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.