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When You Hate to Sell: Organize Your Sales Presentation

Updated on March 9, 2010

Maybe you don’t like presenting to people. Maybe you’ve run into a sleazy or dishonest salesperson. So you hate “selling.” But even if you hate selling, at some point in your life, you have to talk to someone (henceforth called “the customer”) and sell an idea or a service.

Maybe you need to sell an editor on the “idea” of you writing a freelance article. Or maybe you’re an administrative assistant who has an idea for a form that would make everyone’s life easier. You need to “sell” the idea. Selling a service can be as simple as selling a painting job, or as complex as selling consulting services. So if you have to make “the sale” and you hate selling, what do you do?” Organize!

Benefits of Organizing the Sales Presentation

The best way to sell when you hate selling is to organize what you want to say, then follow your organization.  Organizing a sales presentation provides you a number of benefits:

  • When you have to organize your presentation you will spend time thinking through what you want to say.  When you do this, what you want to say becomes clearer to you. What’s more, a logical presentation is easier for your customer to follow.
  • If customers believe your presentation is organized, they know you’ve put some time into it – meaning they think better of you.
  • An organized sales presentation will help stop you jumping around from topic to topic – which can confuse the people you’re talking to.
  • When you organize your sales presentation you can plan questions to ask.  Asking questions, listening to the answers, and answering questions is one of the most important parts of any sales presentation.

The Parts of an Organized Sales Presentation

The main parts of a sales presentation are:

  1. The opening
  2. Presenting main and supporting points
  3. Stating the WIIFMs (What’s In It For Me)
  4. Asking and answering questions
  5. The ending

Following this format can help you feel that you are simply talking to someone else rather than selling.

The Opening

Many people will tell you to open a sales presentation with “chit-chat.” Save the chit chat for your tweets. People know why you’re in front of them. If you’re interviewing for a job or have just walked through someone’s house to give them a plumbing estimate, people know what you’re there for.

Instead, after the basic “hellos” and introductions, begin by stating the purpose of the call. The purpose is the specific action you want the other person to take as a result of your sales presentation. By stating the purpose it means you are laying your cards on the table. Because you are not trying to hide what’s going on, you are building the customer’s trust in you.

“Convince you to buy a house,” is not a good purpose. “Convince” is not an action the other person can take. “Choose a house you’ll love from the four I show you,” is a solid purpose because it tells the other person the specific action you want them to take. It puts the action in their hands – it gives them control. And it will help you feel you are not trying to manipulate the customer – one of the reasons people hate selling.

Presenting Main Points and Supporting Points

Next, you want to present the main points and supporting points you have prepared when you organized your presentation. The formula is pretty simple:

  1. Main point
  2. Supporting facts, proof, or argument
  3. Summary, then move on.

Many people, even experienced salespeople, plan on spending the most time in their sales presentation here. Wrong!

In the best sales presentations you should be doing less presenting and the customer should be doing more talking. When the customer is talking and answering your questions, it helps you determine exactly what they want and how you can provide the idea or service they really want.

When you’re doing all the talking, the customer begins to think you are trying to “sell” them something they don’t want or need. Or worse, they begin to think you are a long-winded bore!

The WIIFMs

People don’t buy your idea or service because they want to help you out.  (Except maybe for relatives.)  People buy because they believe the idea or service you are selling will help them.

So you need to know how your idea or service will help them – that’s the WIIFM, the What’s In It For Me?  In other words, what will they get out of what you’re selling?  If the customer doesn’t think your idea or service will help them, it won’t matter how well your sales presentation is organized.

How do you find out about the WIIFM?  Ask questions, listen, and answer questions.

Asking and Answering Questions

Ask open-ended questions that start with “what,” “how,” “why,” and “please describe.” These types of questions encourage the customer to do the talking.

Questions that can only be answered by a “yes” or a “no” are called closed questions because they don’t require the customer to do much talking. Not that all closed questions are inappropriate. Sometimes you do have to ask them to get specific information, such as “When do you want to start the repairs?” But they should not be the bulk of your questions.

After you’ve asked a question, listen to the answer. Listening means stopping your mind from thinking about what you want to say next, and actually hearing what the other person is saying. That means focusing, providing feedback (verbally or physically), and responding appropriately to what the other person has said.

If the other person asks you questions, answer honestly. When you organize your presentation, you should think of the types of questions the other person will ask – that way you will be prepared. But even if it’s not a question you expected, stop, think and answer with a main point, supporting point, and summary.

For more detail about open and closed questions see this hub.

Ending

In the end, you must ask the customer if they are interested in your idea or service. Even experienced people sometimes have trouble doing this because of fear of rejection.

They fear that a “no” in selling means they’re a failure, people don’t like them, they’re not good with people, and so on. But there are a million reasons for a “no” and most of them have nothing to do with you.

If someone says “no,” simply ask them why. Maybe it’s just that they misunderstood something you said. Or maybe you can provide more information that will change their mind.

Maybe one of the reasons you hated selling in the first place was because you didn’t want to force someone to do something that wouldn’t help them. So don’t do it! If you’ve tried to clear up any misunderstandings or provided additional information and the customer still is not interested, just let the customer know that “no” is an acceptable answer.

Tell them what you will do based on the results of the sales presentation and ask if you can keep in touch in the future. If you are truly interested in building a long-term relationship with the customer, that’s the right thing to do.

Summary

When faced with selling an idea or service, remember to organize ahead of time.  Being prepared will help you and the customer and make the entire experience feel less like “selling.”

When going through your presentation, keep in mind that the sales presentation should be about the customer, not about you.  Focus on the customer and their needs, let them do the talking, don’t be afraid of rejection, and positive results will follow.

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