I apologize to the faithful readers of my blog series for the delay in getting this bog out. I have had an exceptionally busy week this past week and have limited computer time. Hope you enjoy….
How to Present your products to win sales
When you transition from the interview stage to the presentation stage of the sales cycle, it is important to remember that the sole purpose of the presentation stage is to lead into the closing stage and effectively be able to close the sale without gimmicks or pressure towards your prospect.
It does not matter if you are performing a one call sales cycle or meeting on more than one occasion, the interview stage must precede the presentation stage and the presentation stage must precede the closing stage. For many types of woodworking, you might have been able to do allot of the interview stage during the cold call in setting up the appointment. I do this often times if I feel that the prospect will allow the time on the telephone to answer a few questions and it can be a great time saver by qualifying your prospect during the cold call and it also re enforces the idea to the prospect that it is worth their time to set up the appointment with you.
The most effective presentation will make the closing stage so easy that the prospect practically asks to do business with you rather than you asking for the business. But how do you format your presentation in order to accomplish this?
If you will recall, we have previously established that your main competition is the “Status quo” meaning what your prospect was doing before you came along. The status quo might be a similar product from another competing source, or it could be nothing at all. Also we have already established that the number one reason people DO NOT buy is they see no need to change the status quo.
The objective is to get the prospect to see your product in a way that gives them a reason to change the status quo.
In order to accomplish this in the most effective and productive manor, you must identify you customer. Ultimately who are you selling to? On the surface this might seem to be an easy question. Let’s say for example you are selling custom built in cabinetry and furniture. On the surface you might say that your customer is homeowners who seek one of a kind home furnishings rather than mass produced furniture made on an assembly line. Although this might be the final end user of your product, your immediate customer might be the furniture store owner, or interior designer or Contractor that you are giving your presentation to. And in this case, this is who you must sell in order to close the sale.
If you are presenting your product to the end user, your presentation will be different because the end user is who you must sell to. What if you are selling wholesale to a store, or contractor or distributor who is buying your product to sell retail to the final end user?
Remember in the first blog, on WHAT IS THE ART OF SELLING, We determined that the object in selling is to find out what your customer does, who they do it for, why they do it, and how they do it, and help them do it better. The only way to show your customer how you can help them do what they do better is to sell them on the benefits of using your product. Also it is important to realize that you are not not only selling your product but selling yourself as well.
Before preparing your presentation, think of it this way. What is in it for your customer? What benefit do they get from choosing to go with your product over the competition? For example, let’s say you build furniture that is handcrafted from solid wood rather than particle board or MDF. This is not a benefit but a feature. Too often, people tend to concentrate on the features of their product, but it is the benefits the customer will receive from your product that sells.
I am sure that many people out their will say that they sell their product, no matter what it is on the merits that it is finely crafted, quality woodwork made from the finest woods available. And these are very strong features that are valuable in your presentation. In order to reach those middle third sales you must not stop at just the features but point out the benefits that those features bring.
To give an example, in the casket industry, there are three primary fabrics used for the interior lining. Economy priced caskets typically have satin lining, while mid grade caskets have crepe lining and velvet is used in the most exclusive models. Recently I had the opportunity to purchase crushed velvet at a lower price than satin or crepe. Of course I jumped on the opportunity and thought that this would be a really good selling feature to have such a high end fabric in a casket that was priced in the economy level. I soon found out that this was not perceived well with funeral directors, that although the final end user might go for the soft feel and rich texture of a velvet lined casket, the funeral directors did not want it in their showroom for an option because traditional velvet actually makes their job harder. How could this be? It turns out that traditionally the fibers in velvet shed very easily onto other fabrics it is in contact with and a casket lined in velvet makes their job harder because they are fighting the “lint” and shedding of the velvet against the cloths of the deceased. As I am mostly presenting to funeral directors, the feature of crushed velvet would not sell them but create and objection. Therefore in order to sell caskets with crushed velvet, It is necessary to educate the funeral director on the benefit that crushed velvet does not have the same shedding properties as traditional velvet, and the benefit is that by using my casket, they can offer an economy priced casket with high end features like the soft and plush feel of velvet.
Depending upon who your audience is, your product might have features that mean nothing to who you are presenting to. Take caskets again as an example. As a standard “Feature” all caskets that I produce are equipped with an adjustable bed. When I am presenting my caskets directly to the public, I do not concentrate on the ease of the lift mechanism or the adjust ability of the bed. After all the benefits of this feature are designed to benefit the funeral director and essentially mean nothing to the final end user. Instead, when selling direct to the public I tend to concentrate on other benefits such as cost savings or the benefit of a casket that is unique as the handcrafted feature makes no two caskets to be exactly identical. or the benefits of the memorial tube and why a memorial tube is included on all models. The benefit that if they buy from me I can customize their casket anyway they choose and I deliver the casket to the funeral home of their choice free of charge.
When establishing the list of benefits that you want to include in your presentation, do not forget ti include benefits that are not directly related to features of your product like customer service, or payment terms, warranty, etc. For some products that do not have a laundry list of features, this can be instrumental in closing the sale. Consider gasoline as an example. Essentially, you receive the same benefits of gasoline regardless if you buy Texaco, BP, Exxon or whatever. That benefit being that your vehicle will go from point A to point B as long as you have fuel in the tank. But are you one of the majorities of people that buy most of your gas from the same station? Think about the reasons you buy from a particular station. I guarantee it is most likely because there is a benefit you receive from buying at that particular station rather than another. That benefit might be the stations close proximity to your home or work, a penny or two in price savings, or better fuel economy for your particular vehicle. You might purchase at a particular station on the benefit that they give a free soft drink with a fill up. It might be that you also purchase convenience items and they have the best selection. It might be the service you receive from the gas station attendant. Whatever the reason you choose to buy gas at a particular location most likely has little to do with the gasoline itself. After all, the main benefit of buying gas is it allows your vehicle to run, and all gas regardless of brand will make your engine run. Can you really tell the difference between Exxon and Texaco fuel?
A price advantage can be a good benefit. However, if all buying decisions were based upon the price, there would be no reason for salesmen. Everyone could get on a product data base or search the internet for the lowest price. A perfect example of this is the distributor that I buy my material for lining caskets with. Believe it or not, the supplier I most commonly use is also the most expensive. In fact, when it comes to satin, they are twice as expensive as the lowest priced vendor I know of, and their crepe is 7 time more expensive. Why do I use the vendor I choose rather than the lower cost supplier? Better quality of material is one, but mostly I like the service I receive and the dependability for them to deliver what I need on time without losing shipments.
Another example is the hardware for my caskets. Within 100 miles of my location, there is a national manufacturer that specializes in hardware for caskets. On the surface it seems that it would make more sense to use them than anyone else. Their price is competitive with other manufacturers and considering their close proximity, I would pay less for shipping. However, I buy all of my casket hardware from a manufacturer in Ontario Canada. Buying from them means I have to pay extra shipping and import tax, not to mention it takes a few extra days to receive their products as they usually have a day or two held up in customs. Why do I use them rather than the practically next door vendor? They were masters at finding out what I do and finding a way to help me do it better. I first contacted both companies the same day with an email that I was seeking a supplier for casket hardware. The local company never called on the phone and in fact failed to return several calls I made to them, but instead emailed me an electronic catalog and price list. The company in Canada however, took the time to call me on the phone and before trying to sell me anything, they asked me questions. They found out everything they could about what I was doing and who I was doing it for. The sales person spent about 30 minutes on the phone with me and then asked that I send him some photos or drawings of my designs so he could select hardware that would be best suited for my designs and help me do what I was doing better.
When you present your product it is important to look at your product in the same light. Pick out the benefits your product and service presents and preferably finds benefits that are different from the competition that make you unique and creates a desire for your prospect to change the status quo. Remember that features of your product are not the selling points, but the evidence that backs up the benefits your product brings.
-- Michael Mills, North Carolina, http://www.scicaskets.com