Professional Selling Skills Tip # 3 – When To Demo

If you sell software in today’s competitive environment and find yourself doing demonstration after demonstration, after demonstration without closing your share of business, guess what?  You’re letting the prospective customer take advantage of you.

Customers are the most savvy people in the world and they are masters at taking up your valuable time if you allow them to do so.  Many sales representatives find themselves frustrated that they spend a great deal of time in conversations or demonstrations where they’re doing all the talking and getting little back from the prospect.  This is because the prospect is not a buyer, but simply trying to get an education at your expense.   If you are experiencing this then you need to turn this situation around and quickly if you expect to close more business.

No one will argue that a prospective customer looking to acquire a software solution needs to see the product, but they also need to earn the right to have you spend 45 minutes to an hour demonstrating it to them. Industry experts talk about three types of demonstrations and how and when each should be used.

  • The Harbor Cruise
  • The Vision Demo
  • The Final Performance

The Harbor Cruise

This is absolutely the worst situation you can get yourself into.  Think of it in the following way. You have the prospect captured for 45 minutes as you cruise through your product’s features hoping they see something they like.  Sound familiar?  This is not only a waste of time, but creates a high degree of risk that they will not like the product or they will find it too complex and you have lost them for good.  If you find that you have been doing this you need to stop this practice immediately.

The Vision Demo

Here you are trying to educate the prospect and provide them with an example of the value they can realize from your solution.  A good use of the vision demo is to illustrate how your solution can address a specific problem they may have presented to you. Another use of the vision demo is to demonstration how a specific feature has provided value to other customers in the same industry as your prospect.  This allows you to earn their trust and represent that you understand their business challenge.  This should be a brief demonstration focused on addressing one specific business requirement. The goal here is to get to the final performance.

The Final Performance

This is the demonstration that simply proves the value and benefits you have discussed with the prospect.  You should have a list of specific business requirements that need to be addressed and be focused like a laser beam on demonstrating how your solution will meet each of them.  This is the best demo you can do and if done properly should allow you to ask for the business.  What’s most critical here is to ensure that you have the appropriate decision makers in the room.  If you do not – offer “The Vision Demo” instead.

Professional Selling Skills Tip #2 – Handling Objection

yes? no? maybe.Good sales managers will tell their staff that it’s OK to get no for an answer as long as it’s during the initial call or sales visit.   This makes perfect sense as no one wants to spend their valuable time when the opportunity for a sale simply doesn’t exist. But in the world of sales, no does not always mean no.

Sales people often fail to recognize that when a customer says no, it does not always mean that they are not interested in the product or service you are selling.  It may simply mean that they do not see the value in what you are offering.  If this is the case you’ve just got more selling to do. But how do you know whether you should continue to sell or move on. Customers always provide signals regarding this and there are three to pay close attention to.

First is indifference”. Here the customer will express that whatever you are selling is just not that important to them.  When this occurs you need to use the open probing technique outlined in the professional sales tips #1.  Your objective is to ask the type of probing questions that will uncover an unrealized need thereby allowing you to continue the sales process.

Signal number two is “skepticism”. The customer has heard the benefits you presented, but they are skeptical that they will realize the same value. They simply don’t believe it. In this case you will want to offer proof, such as a customer testimonial or white paper that supports your position.  This is the best way to get the customers to realize there may be some real value in what you are offering.

Signal number three is outright “objection”. This is often due to a misunderstanding or a drawback that the customer perceives in your offering.  The best way to address this is to make a supporting statement to clear up any misunderstanding. Then remind the customer of the benefits they may have already accepted during the sales process.

There are certainly times when you need to carefully review the potential of an opportunity – the effort required to win the deal, the probability of winning the business, and if this is the type of customer that your company will enjoy a long term business relationship with. But before you determine this remember that no does not always mean no.

Image “yes? no? maybe.” by Visionello on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Best Practice #4 – Regularly uses positive self talk to keep himself motivated

trying to stay positive today
A best practice for sales people by guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.

By Dave Kahle

Most time studies of field salespeople reveal that the typical salesperson only spends 25 to 30 percent of his/her work week actually talking with customers and prospects.  Much of the remainder of that time is spent alone.  That isolation can be devastating if the time is spent thinking negative and self-deprecating thoughts.

The tendency to fill our down time with negative thoughts is a problem that few salespeople will publically acknowledge.  It is a natural tendency in a job where rejection is a common experience.  Combine that routine rejection with lots of alone-time to think about it, and you have a recipe for depression and dejection.

It is not news to anyone that a depressed and dejected salesperson is not motivated to make the next sales call or to go the extra step.  If you are depressed, you performance will suffer.

Let’s examine the sequence of events.  Given a lot of alone-time to think, rejection often prompts negative thoughts.  Negative thoughts produce depressed and negative emotions.  Negative emotions lead to far less positive behavior.  The lack of positive behavior leads to poor performance.  And what does poor performance lead to?  Negative thoughts.

That is a cycle that can keep a salesperson under-performing for years.

You can break that cycle by training yourself to create the habit of positive self-talk.  Positive self talk is the routine expression of verbal and silent thoughts that are designed to build a positive attitude.  Sales masters engage in managing their thoughts by a number of specific practices.

They collect positive thoughts and sayings from sources around them.  They listen to positive thoughts while they drive.  They subscribe to services which deliver positive ideas to them.  They repeat, silently in their minds, as well as out loud, positive thoughts, ideas and affirmations.

These thoughts then become embedded in their minds, gradually pushing out the negative ideas which are so easily accumulated.

The net result of this mental work?  More energy and more motivation.  In spite of a personal rejection, they have the motivation to make that next call and to go the extra step.

Positive thoughts eventually lead to positive actions, which eventually lead to greater performance.

The best salespeople understand that.  They also know that it is their personal responsibility to keep themselves motivated and thinking positively.  That leads them to the use of positive self-talk as a practice proven to help fight off negative thoughts and result in focused effective sales behavior.

That’s why this is a best practice of the best salespeople.

If you’d like to study this best practice more thoroughly, read  How to Excel at Distributor Sales, chapter 12 and 13; read  Take your Sales Performance Up-A-Notch, Chapter 16, and, if you are a subscriber to The Sales Resource Center™, consider Pod-24: Motivating Yourself to Excel Every Day, Nuggets N-163: Adversity, N-158: Motivation, and N-106: Self- Motivation.

Image “trying to stay positive today” by Bud Caddell on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

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