Stop Sign

Welcome back readers!  After a nice break from the AA-ISP Leadership Summit in Chicago, I am recharged and ready to help make 2014 a year dedicated to Training and Development.  On that note, today’s tip to leaders has to do with time they spend listening to and coaching their reps on the demos and presentations they do virtually to their prospects and customers.  Although there are a number of areas we could address which will help your reps make these presentations more valuable and memorable, today we will focus on only one. STOP SELLING – START LISTENING That’s right. Stop selling!  If you’re selling, you’re not listening.  And if you’re not listening, you’re not hearing and understanding what’s important to your prospect. Here is a story I will share to make my point.  The other day I got home after work and my wife seemed upset.  When I asked her what was wrong she went on to tell me about her friend who offended her during a conversation they had over lunch.  She went on to explain the situation and how it made her feel really bad.  I knew what could help her so I offered up a solution and approach she could take next time they spoke.  Unfortunately, it was the last thing my wife wanted me to do or say!  RATHER, she wanted me to just listen and fully understand and feel the depth of her pain and concern… without saying a word. All too often we as sales people do this very same thing with our prospects.  We ask a few open ended questions, hear some pain or concerns, and then can jump right into “solutions mode”.  After all, we are supposed to be solutions sales people right?  But think about it this way… why in the world would a sales rep want to try and move a prospect away from focusing on and discussing their pain or challenge, only to hear us start talking about our product or solution? Here are a few brief tips you can have your reps implement to avoid the above, especially when doing a demo or presentation:

  • TAKE TIME TO LISTEN. Be sure to allocate ample time either on an initial, pre-demo call, or on the demo call itself for listening to your customer’s concerns, issues and ideas.
  • BE ALL EARS.  I suggest reps actually using the term “I’m all ears” in the beginning of a call when allowing the prospect to fully describe their situation.  By saying something like… “I’d love to better understand your team’s biggest challenges… so I’m all ears” sends a big signal that you have every intention to shut up and listen to the prospect, and have a keen interest in what they have to say.
  • TIME YOUR TALK. Have someone actually time the amount of time your rep speaks vs. the time the prospect speaks during a demo.  Even when you need to explain and present something, having a rep who speaks 70-80% of the time is way too much.
  • KEEP IT IN THE BAG.  See how long you can keep your product or solution “in your bag” before offering it up in conversation.
  • FOCUS ON THE NEED.  The worst thing that can happen during a demo is for the sales rep to cover areas that aren’t necessarily important to the prospect.  I once was given a presentation on a CRM software add-on.  The sales rep asked me what was important and what I wanted to see in the beginning of the call.  I told them I really just cared about one particular issue to see if their solution addressed it or not.  The rep then launched into a canned demo covering every feature of their software.  Twice I tried to tell them I didn’t need to see that but rather wanted them to address my specific question. Finally, I had to rudely stop the call and not let them speak unless it was about my initial need.  Don’t let this be the way you present your solution!   Thinking you have to introduce a feature/benefit just because “they might not know they have this issue” is very risky and not advised by me.

Want to have your reps demo become more productive, memorable, and effective?  Try some of these tips above.  I would love you to share some other tips about giving effective demos so please comment below.

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