Effective Communication and Sales Techniques Public

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Effective Communication and Sales Techniques is a course that provides information on techniques such as preparing for and giving sales presentations, turning objections into sales opportunities, and selling your business vision. The course is ideal for business professionals, entrepreneurs, salespeople or those starting out on their sales career path.

Module Information

Module 1 - Preparing and Giving Sales Presentations Effective Communication and Sales Techniques - Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this module, students will be able to: Learn how to prepare for a sales presentation. Discuss how to dress for success for a sales presentation.  Deliver your message in a powerful and effective way.  Define SPIN selling and how to use it during the sales presentation.   Effective Communication and Sales Techniques - Preparation - Key to Success Preparation: Key to Success Keep Your Eye on the Prize  As excited as you might be about your product, or as eager as you are to demonstrate your solution, keep in mind that your sales presentation is primarily about building a relationship and beginning a partnership, especially in the business-to-business (B2B) arena.Taking a customer-centric approach lies at the heart of delivering value. As author Tom Reilly, explains it, delivering value means that you “define value in customer terms, ask questions, listen to customers, and put the spotlight on customer-centric solutions.” [2]  When Selena Lo, CEO of Ruckus Wireless, is gearing up for a sales presentation, she focuses her final preparations on making it personal. Lo researches everyone who will be in the meeting. She prepares the seating arrangement for the sales meeting strategically, making sure that she will be sitting directly across from the highest-ranking person there so that she can make eye contact.  On the day of the presentation, she asks a member of her sales team to write down each person’s name when they walk in the door-and to make a point of using the names during the presentation. [1] Lo’s efforts to give the sales presentation a personal touch are a reminder that in relationship selling, you can never lose sight of the most important thing: your customer.  “Today’s presentations typically are conducted over several meetings, with the salesperson often doing more listening than talking.” [3] Make it your goal to see that you and your prospect get what you want out of the meeting.  It’s a good idea to visualize this outcome before going into the meeting. Review your precall objectives. What will it look like to achieve these objectives? What steps will you and your prospect have to take? How will it feel when you both have achieved your goals?  If you mentally run through a “movie” of the sales presentation, allowing yourself to picture your reactions and the steps you will take to close in on your objective, you will be better prepared when the meeting takes place. [4] Each step of the presentation will come naturally to you because you have already mentally rehearsed, and you will be better positioned to sell adaptively because you have already imagined a number of possible scenarios and customer responses.  In addition, if your subconscious mind believes you have already been in this situation before, it will direct you to say and do the things you need to achieve your objective. [5] The Power to Adapt  The sales presentation is where adaptive selling makes all the difference.  Up until this point, you have researched and prepared and developed a solution that you think will meet your prospect’s needs, but walking into the presentation and delivering on that preparation requires a different set of skills. Top-performing salespeople know that keeping a customer-centric focus, visualizing a successful outcome, and mentally rehearsing your presentation before you deliver it will give you the power to adapt with confidence and ease.  Adapting is all about listening.  Your sales presentation is really a compilation of all the listening you have done to this point. And listening doesn’t stop there.  It’s impossible to adapt if you’re not listening. When you are creating your presentation, keep in mind that it is not a one-way communication. Presentations are for listening, adapting, and solving problems. Preparing The evening before your meeting, the are five points that you should check: prepare your materials, check your equipment, practice your presentation, but leave room for spontaneity and adaptation.  You can’t practice too many times. The content of your presentation should be second nature by the time you get up in front of your audience so that you can focus your energy on your prospect.  Rehearsal is one of the best ways to calm your nerves so that you can focus on delivering your presentation naturally and connecting with your prospect.  Materials The night before, you should also get together all the materials you’ll need for your presentation-handouts, files, product samples, and contracts-and have them ready to go for the following morning.  This will save you time tracking down loose supplies at the last minute, when you’re trying to get out the door to make it to your meeting. It’s also a good idea to set out your clothes the night before for the same reason.  Equipment If you are planning to use multimedia equipment in your presentation, make sure in advance that your prospect will have everything you’ll need to make it run.  If you aren’t sure, bring everything (e.g., cables, adapters, remotes) with you. And of course, make sure you know how to use all your equipment.  Rehearse When Keith Waldon, CEO of Earth Preserv, was preparing for a meeting, he spent hours rehearsing with his multimedia equipment. The technology was a key element of his presentation, and he wanted to make sure everything would work perfectly for the big day.  “I had to learn how to use all the remote-control equipment,” he says. Waldon also brought a technical assistant with him as backup to safeguard against any glitches. [8]  Spontaneity  Andres Mendes, global CIO of Special Olympics International, says that rehearsing out loud makes him too nervous; he likes to leave room for spontaneity and adaptation.  Mendes develops the big themes of the  presentation and maps these out into PowerPoint slides that tell the whole story. “I time the slides to move exactly at my pace, so I rehearse the mechanics and make sure those are right,” he says. [6]  Adapt CIO Magazine columnist Martha Heller, on the other hand, likes to rehearse in the traditional style, delivering the presentation out loud and pacing the room as if she were in front of an audience.  She never rehearses the opening though. She likes to adapt her comments to the immediate situation and energy in the room. [7] Getting There  It might surprise you to know how often salespeople show up late to their own presentations because they get lost on the way to the meeting.  When you are traveling to an unfamiliar place for your appointment, get directions in advance, and allow extra travel time in case of traffic delays or wrong turns. Make sure you also research the parking situation beforehand.  If your prospect is a large corporation with its own complex, are there reserved employee lots and visitor lots? Will you have to walk a considerable distance from your car to the meeting room? If you’ll be meeting in an urban area, is street parking available, or will you have to find a parking garage?  Test-Run You don’t want to arrive on time only to get delayed because you spent twenty minutes driving around in search of a parking spot. It’s a good idea to make a test trip in advance of your meeting.  That will help avoid surprises with traffic, parking, security, or other areas that might cause a delay. If something unavoidable does come up , make sure you call ahead to let your customer know you will be arriving late.  Arrival Besides the extra time you allow for travel, plan to arrive at the meeting a little early.  Not only does this convey professionalism, but it also gives you the time to mentally prepare once you arrive and to set up any equipment you’ll be using.  Reading Material Finally, bring something to read in case you have to wait: a business magazine, a newspaper like the Wall Street Journal, or maybe a Kindle. Dress for Success  You want your prospective customers to take you seriously at first glance, so pay careful attention to what you wear on your sales call.  Think about it this way, when you are buying a product off the shelf in a store, isn’t packaging the first thing that catches your attention? A professionally dressed salesperson can have a huge influence on a prospect’s perception of him, his company, and the product he represents. [10] Your appearance should convey professionalism, competence, and success. Most important, regardless of the dress code at your prospect’s business, be sure your appearance includes a smile. A smile is an instant rapport builder. No one wants to buy from someone who isn’t excited about the company or product he’s representing.  Your appearance communicates volumes about you before you ever open your mouth. Tom Reilly tells the story of a salesperson that showed up to one of his recent seminars dressed in flip-flops and a T-shirt. “I thought he was there to clean the windows,” Reilly says. [9] Business Casual or Business?  When you are making a sales presentation at a company, remember this advice:  Dress one step above what you would wear if you worked at the organization. [11] If you are ever unsure about a company’s standard dress code, always dress up. It’s easier to take off a jacket and tie than to put them on at the last minute. [12] For most of your business-to-business sales situations, business attire will be the norm.  For a while in the ’90s there was a trend toward more casual clothing in the workplace, but that trend is mostly on the way out. “I see a return to more traditional business wear,” says Gary Brody, president of the Marcraft Apparel Group. [13]  For that matter, even if your customer says business casual is the standard in his workplace, if you are aiming to dress a notch up from that standard, you might decide that business attire is the way to go.  As Mark-Evan Blackman of the Fashion Institute of Technology states: “suits universally project an air of authority”. [14]  For men, business attire means a suit (matching pants and jacket), a necktie, a long-sleeved shirt, and lace-up shoes. [15] Go for conservative, dark colors such as gray, black, or dark blue for the suit; white or light blue for the shirt. For women, business means a suit (skirt or pants and matching jacket), shoes with moderate heels in a basic pump style (closed-toe), a blouse, and tan or light pantyhose.  Business casual can sometimes be tricky because it’s less clearly defined than business attire. According to Monster.com, business casual “means dressing professionally, looking relaxed, yet neat and pulled together.” [16]  For men, a bare minimum approach to business casual means dress pants and a collared shirt. Women can wear skirts or pants, but skirts should be a conservative length, and pants should be well tailored. A blouse or a tailored knit sweater are good choices, and make sure to wear closed-toe shoes. [17] Business casual for men or women does not include workout clothes or shoes, wrinkled clothing, worn blue jeans, shorts, miniskirts, athletic socks, or overly revealing clothing. [18] Details Matter  Getting the clothes right but missing the mark on the details will create a poor impression just as much as under dressing for the occasion can.  And don’t forget good grooming. Body odor, bad breath, poorly manicured fingernails, and messy hair can be a deal breaker, make sure you project the right impression. So make sure everything from your nails to your hair and choice of accessories conveys professionalism. Tips for creating a good impression  Clothes should be cleaned and pressed. Take the time to review your wardrobe days before your presentation to be sure everything is cleaned and pressed.  If the garment has belt loops, wear a belt. Belts should be dark leather.  Make sure your briefcase or handbag is professional, not casual. [19]  Men should avoid sports watches, and women should wear conservative jewelry-nothing flashy.  Make sure your hair looks professional and well groomed. [20]  Carry a good quality portfolio or notebook and a nice pen.  Women should wear hosiery if they are wearing a skirt. Avoid wearing perfume or cologne. [21]  It is true that even the products you use reflect an image, and when you’re doing business with a potential customer, you want that image to be the right one.  This is something worth researching before you go into your sales call. If you know who your prospect’s customers are, use those company’s products. If your prospect is a publishing house, read some of their books. If they have a radio station or record label, listen to it. Knowing the prospect’s products, or their customers’ products, is part of your credibility.  When employees whose businesses rent space in the Coca-Cola building on New York’s Fifth Avenue in the US, want to bring a canned or bottled beverage to work, they have a list of drinks to choose from.  Vermont Pure Water is OK, but Evian is definitely out. Food and drink orders coming into the building are scanned, and anything with non-Coca-Cola brand products gets sent away. [22] KEY TAKEAWAYS  When preparing for your sales presentation, stay focused on the essentials: your relationship with the prospect and your precall objectives.  Practice mental rehearsal by visualizing the best possible outcome to the sales presentation.  Delivering value to the customer means practicing adaptive selling and listening to the customer to understand her needs. Keep this in mind before and during the presentation.  The night before your presentation, make sure you have all the logistics worked out: your equipment, your wardrobe, directions to the location, and parking information.  When you prepare for a sales presentation, pay careful attention to your appearance. It is important to make a good first impression. Always dress more formally than you think your customer will be dressed. When in doubt, dress up. Give careful attention to detail, such as accessories and grooming.  Make sure to convey an image that’s in line with your customer’s products and values.  Exercises You are preparing for a presentation with three executives to be considered for the internship or job you really want. List the steps you would take to rehearse your sales presentation, making sure to leave room for adaptability.  Review the clothes that are currently in your closet. Do you own a suit and accessories that would be appropriate for business attire? Do you have several pieces you could wear at a business casual event? If not, what will you need to purchase to dress for success?    Bibliography [1] Stephanie Clifford, “Find the Fox,” Inc., February 1, 2007,http://www.inc.com/magazine/20070201/features-sales-performance-lo.html (accessed May 16, 2010).  [2] Tom Reilly, Value-Added Selling: How to Sell More Profitably, Confidently, and Professionally by Competing on Value, Not Price, 2nd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002), 23-24.  [3] William C. Moncrief and Greg W. Marshall, “The Evolution of the Seven Steps of Selling,” Industrial Marketing Management 34, no. 1 (2005): 18.  [4] Richard White, “Déjà Vu,” Pro Excellence, http://www.pro-excellence.com/html/resources.html (accessed May 16, 2010).  [5] Brian Tracy, Advanced Selling Strategies (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 80.  [6] Maryfran Johnson, “Rehearsing Success,” CIO Magazine, June 10, 2009,http://www.cio.com/article/494729/Why_Even_Successful_Speakers_Need_To_Practice(accessed May 16, 2010).  [7] Maryfran Johnson, “Rehearsing Success,” CIO Magazine, June 10, 2009,http://www.cio.com/article/494729/Why_Even_Successful_Speakers_Need_To_Practice(accessed May 16, 2010).  [8] Susan Greco, “Anatomy of a Launch: The Five-Hour Multimedia Sales Presentation,”Inc., October 1, 1995, http://www.inc.com/magazine/19951001/2441.html (accessed May 16, 2010).  [9] Tom Reilly, “Dress for Success,” Tom Reilly Training, 2009,http://www.tomreillytraining.com/Ezine%207-07%20DressforSuccess.htm (accessed May 16, 2010).  [10] “Dress for Success,” Sales Success Blog, November 29, 2006,http://salesuccess.blogspot.com/2006/11/dress-for-success.html (accessed May 16, 2010).  [11] Ross Macpherson, “6 Keys to Making the Right Impression in an Interview,” A Career in Sales, 2002, http://www.acareerinsales.com/careerToolsDress4Success.aspx (accessed May 16, 2010). [12] Geoffrey James, “Is ‘Dress for Success’ Still Mandatory?” BNET, January 22, 2009,http://blogs.bnet.com/salesmachine/?p=732 (accessed May 16, 2010).  [13] Paul Burnham Finney, “Redefining Business Casual,” New York Times, October 23, 2007, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9405EEDD1F39F930A15753C 1A9619C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all (accessed May 16, 2010).  [14] Paul Burnham Finney, “Redefining Business Casual,” New York Times, October 23, 2007, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9405EEDD1F39F930A15753C 1A9619C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all (accessed May 16, 2010).  [15] Andy Gilchrist, “Cracking the Dress Code,” Ask Andy about Clothes,http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/Clothes%20Articles/cracking_the_dress_code.htm(accessed May 16, 2010).  [16] Paul Burnham Finney, “Redefining Business Casual,” New York Times, October 23, 2007, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9405EEDD1F39F930A15753C 1A9619C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all (accessed May 16, 2010).  [17] Virginia Tech University Career Services, “Business Casual Attire,” Virginia Tech University, http://www.career.vt.edu/Jobsearc/BusCasual.htm (accessed May 16, 2010).  [18] Paul Burnham Finney, “Redefining Business Casual,” New York Times, October 23, 2007, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9405EEDD1F39F930A15753C 1A9619C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all (accessed May 16, 2010). [19] Gloria Starr, “The New Dress for Success Look,” EvanCarmichael.com,http://www.evancarmichael.com/Business-Coach/2445/The-New-Dress-for-Success-Look.html (accessed May 16, 2010).  [20] Tom Reilly, “Dress for Success,” Tom Reilly Training, 2009,http://www.tomreillytraining.com/Ezine%207-07%20DressforSuccess.htm (accessed May 16, 2010).  [21] Ross Macpherson, “6 Keys to Making the Right Impression in an Interview,” A Career in Sales, 2002, http://www.acareerinsales.com/careerToolsDress4Success.aspx (accessed May 16, 2010).  [22] BNET Advertising Industry, “Adds New Meaning to ‘Always Coca-Cola,’” BNET,http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BDW/is_12_40/ai_54233838 (accessed May 16, 2010).
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