You know your product, its features and its benefits.  You have a well-rounded presentation that explains all of this, complete with visual aids.  So why waste a prospect’s time with chit-chat?  Shouldn’t you launch straight into your presentation?

No, you shouldn’t, and here’s why.  No matter how good it is, your generic presentation casts your product or service as a commodity, not as a solution to the particular customer.  Customers don’t care about your products, they care about their own problems and opportunities.  They want to know that you understand their problems before you start talking about how your wares can “solve” them.

You think you have a cool product presentation? So does every competitor you’ve got.

When salespeople understand their customer’s needs before presenting their products, the presentation can be tailored to hit specific hot buttons. This also avoids many objections that commonly arise later in the sales cycle.

To find out “what to sell,” you need to gather information about the customer.  The things you want to know fall into four categories:

Need – Ask open ended questions to uncover problems and opportunities likely to be addressed by your products and service.  Examples:  “What is the biggest problem with the current method you’re using?”  “What are the consequences of not solving this problem?”

Company Issues – What is the customer’s company or department trying to accomplish with this buying decision and why is it important?  “What goals has your company set regarding this?”  “What will it mean to the company if you are successful?”

Personal Issues –  What’s at stake for the customer himself/herself – professionally or personally?  “What will it mean to you if these goals are achieved?”

Money Issues –  Find out about the budget that exists for the purchase or how the expenditure would be justified.  “What kind of budget have you established for this project?”  Or, “What areas would you look at to justify a purchase like this?”

Once you know this, you are in a position to present your product as a solution, not just one more alternative in a sea of commodities.  Instead of a classic data dump, your presentation now can be aimed at specific needs that this customer actually cares about.

Action Selling In Action

Why do so many salespeople launch straight into their product presentations before investigating their customers’ needs?  Usually it’s because they’re flying by the seat of their pants.  They lack a strategic framework to follow throughout the entire sales cycle.  Sadly, delivering a canned presentation is all they really know how to do.

An account executive with Delta Industrial in Minneapolis, MN, recently summed up the advantages of adopting a coherent, unified, step-by-step approach to the sales process.  “The most important thing the Action Selling training program has done for me,” he said, “is to really make me think and strategize about what I am trying to accomplish in every sales call in order to move the process forward.”