Three Core Sales Skills
An electrician or handyman uses tools. Some examples are a screwdriver, drilling machine, and a wrench. He can work on different projects, or on different stages of a project, and man use all these tools on each project or stage.
I will use the label prospect in this post to refer to both prospects and clients.
A sales persons tools are the skills of Qualifying, Presenting and Closing.
In this post we will look at the skill of Presenting.
The adage “Sell The Sizzle, Not The Steak” applies when it comes to presenting. If you are doing a good job with this skill, you will have an engaged prospect.
There are many objectives for presenting, but the overriding objective is to have the Prospect experience a positive emotional shift as a result of your presentation.
I watched this youtube video years ago and I think it illustrates a sales person who understands the power of presenting.
To present effectively, it helps to have mastered the art or skill of qualifying. If you have not qualified your prospect, you really are gambling, not presenting. You are hoping that your pitch will strike a cord. That is dependent on whether you are speaking to a prospects need. You may give the most polished, practiced presentation, but if it is of no interest to the prospect, you just wasted yours, and their time.
If you understand the prospect, then your presentation will be honed to their specific interests. You should not be guessing what these interests are. We have a saying at RewireX, “When in doubt, Qualify!”
If you are confident that you understand the prospect, and more importantly, that they feel you understand them, then it is safe to move into the presenting stage of your conversation.
Presenting makes use of a number of sub skills. These are:
- Trial Close Questions
Most sales people have not problem presenting features. Features are the logical aspects your solution includes. Lets use an example of a car. It may have any number of the following features:
- Anti Lock Breaking System
- Electric Power Steering
- Emergency Break Assist
- Boot Space
I threw the last two features in there to highlight that features are not a sophisticated name, they are merely names of components or parts of your solution.
Here is where many sales people make a mistake. They assume that by mentioning the feature, the prospect understands the feature. While this is sometimes the case, this is a terrible sales habit that should be broken. If you not 100% certain that the prospect understands the value of a feature, ask. Remember, “When in doubt, qualify!”
Features become benefits when:
- The feature is actually something the prospect knows they need.
- The feature is something the prospect understands.
- The prospect makes the connection with how the feature satisfies their needs.
Benefits are not an explanation of features, although an explanation may help the feature to become a benefit to the prospect. Rather, a benefit is the ‘a-ha’ moment when the prospect sees that the feature will solve their problem, and they experience a positive emotional shift.
Here’s an example.
Think of the last time you visited an auto dealership. Did the sales person run of a list of features the car you were interested in had? Did you understand those features? I was sitting in the restaurant in a hotel having breakfast when I overheard a conversation at a nearby table. One of the group was describing all the features her new car had. Another person at the table started asking questions about those features and it soon became evident that the first person did not understand what those features did. Therefore, they remained features, and did not become benefits to that person.
Here is a script of how a sales person may convert a feature to a benefit. Lets assume the prospect is a mom with children, and that the sales person qualified the prospect and confirmed that the mom was interested in safety, not because she is a mom, but because she actually said that was what was most important to her. Here is how a sales person could explain ABS.
Sales Person: “This car comes standard with ABS, or Anti Lock Breaking System. Do you know what that does?”
Prospect: “Well I have heard of it but I don’t really know what it does.”
Sales Person: “Let me explain with an example. The logical explanation is that ABS makes it possible for the car break in an emergency situation while still being able to steer the vehicle. Imagine you are driving on a road in the rain. You have you children in the car with you. Tall trees with thick trunks line the side of the road. Unexpectedly, a dog runs into the road. You swerve to avoid the dog and now your are headed directly towards one of those trees. You hit the breaks hard, and the car goes into a slide. You pull the steering towards the left, trying to steer away from the path of the tree. In a car without ABS this will do nothing to change the direction of the car – you are more than likely going to hit that tree, putting you and your loved ones in greater danger. But because you are driving this car, with ABS, when you pull on the steering to avoid the tree, and even though you are braking, you are still able to steer, dramatically increasing the chance that you will steer clear of the tree, keeping you and your loved ones safer, and you said that was important to you!”
This would be a good time to discuss tone and illustrations. The example itself is the illustration. It is painting a picture that the prospect can relate to. The illustration however is not enough. If you delivered the previous script monotone, it is unlikely to have much of an impact on the prospect. Using voice inflection, and altering the speed with which each phrase or sentence is delivered, can dramatically impact the effectiveness of the illustration. Consider, how scary would most horror movies be if there were no background music or sound, and if the climax was not slowed down so that you are left on the edge of your seat. I think Og Mandino, author of ‘The Greatest Salesman In The World’ said it best.
“I will practice, improve, and polish the words I utter to sell my goods, for this is the formulation on which I will build my career and never will I forget that many have attained great wealth and success with only one sales talk, delivered with excellence.”
Trial Close Questions
Throughout your presentation, ask questions to confirm the prospect understand what you are presenting to them, and that they understand the value. A prospect cannot get excited about something they do not understand. If they do not understand, they cannot satisfy the objective of presenting, which is to have the prospect experience a positive emotional shift towards your solution.
In this post we covered the second skill, presenting, one of the 3 core skills every sales person should master. In order to present effectively, you should master Qualifying. If you Qualify the prospect effectively, it enables you to deliver a presentation focused towards identified needs and interests of the prospect.
The objective of presenting is to have the prospect experience a positive emotional shift in favor of your solution.
In order to achieve this objective, present the features that align with the interests previously identified as important to the prospect. More importantly, convert these features to benefits by ensuring the prospect understands the value of the feature, and if necessary, using easy to understand illustrations that will appeal to the prospect, in an engaging tone.
Finally, remember to always confirm the prospects understanding of what you are presenting. If the prospect understands, and sees the benefit, they are more likely to experience a positive emotional shift towards your solution.