NOT ALL PRESENTATIONS BY PROFESSIONAL SELLERS ARE GOOD
In 1987, my then manager and I spent a week or so following up on a hunch of mine. We simply surveyed all of the prospects which were presented to during the previous financial year but not sold at the time of the call. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep a copy of the survey, but I can still reasonably remember many of the results.
At the time, around 1 in 10 (10%) of all demonstrations resulted in a sale. In other words 90% of the prospects approached declined to buy, and of that 90% we were only able to survey around 80%.
The other 20% were not able to be contacted, moved house, or did not return calls (no matter how many messages were left with other family members).
The end results were:
Over 80% were aware their equipment wasn’t doing the job
Over 30% had bought an opposition product within one month
A further 10% had bought another product within 3 months
On analysis, obviously 80% of the presentations achieved what they set out to do. They made the prospect aware of equipment deficiencies, and a HALF upgraded their equipment with another brand within 3 months.
The stark but sobering reality was, if our people were better taught the art of closing built into a well structured selling process, at the time, just prior to the survey, our sales may have increased alarmingly – perhaps even by as much as 50% of the presentations made (or 5 times more than sold at the time), and even after the 50% cancellation rate the company suffered at the time, delivery could have been as high as 50%.
That’s what we thought at the time, but little did we realise how prophetic those thoughts would become – in as little time as the very near future.
THE PRESENTATION REVAMP REVOLUTONISED OUR SELLING PROCESS
Not long after I got to work on solving this issue, but the pressure of other work related to more pressing issues stopped me from giving this issue 100% of my attention. We revamped that division and left in the hands of two reasonable sellers who were selling around one in 5 and I concentrated on improving profits in two other divisions.
It was nearly two years before I was able to put together a presentation I knew would work and went about hiring the type of salespeople that I was sure would do the work. But to my amazement, I couldn’t find one person that was prepared to work to the way I had designed the presentation script. They wanted to do things the way they always had in the past and really didn’t care if I thought I could better the close rate with my “radical” presentation book – as one interviewee put it.
What was so “radical” about this presentation is that it required the salesperson to use a presentation manual while they were demonstrating on a machine. The manual also contained over 400 trial closes, together with some 40 power closes.
WE CREATED A NEW SALES PLAN WITH A NEW TRAINING PROGRAM
Although taken back somewhat by the lack of enthusiasm of these seasoned salespeople, I decided to use the services of anyone who was prepared to learn and apply things my way.
The company executives and I then worked on a training program, employed the services of a television production company and set about creating a 90 minute sales presentation video, also segmented into three 30 minute videos for the purpose of training these new people up.
In the first few intakes, we employed mainly young people without any previous selling experience who were chasing a better than average incomes.
We brought them into a one week training program. The first three days worked so well that on the fourth day (one day ahead of schedule) they were supplied with a full sales kit and a product to demonstrate on and asked to practice on their family, friends and anyone else that listened.
That one last minute idea (borrowed from a cookware sales company), and presenting to anyone that would listen immediately after training, in itself became a bonus, because one in four of the people that took a kit home, made a sale while “rehearsing” the presentation in front of family, relatives, neighbours and friends. That ratio of one in 4 family, relatives, neighbours and friends buying the product, remained unaltered on all our subsequent training programs.
WE THEN APPLIED A NEW EXECUTIVE CLOSE AND IMMEDIATELY DOUBLED OUR SALES
I was now in a position to try out a technique I had only heard about at that point. It was called the Executive Close, and required the seller to call the office at the time of the last of the presented and scripted Power Closes. This method worked out to be a better way to close sales and proved to be near fool-proof. I took those calls at the end of every selling session, closed them by phone and overnight the office closing ratio reduced from around 1 in 7 (15%) to 1 in 3 (30%). A better than 100% increase in sales almost overnight.
But the best part was yet to come. Traditionally, in the direct selling business, you then suffer cancellations and finance rejections. Statistically, these can generally reduce sales by a further 33%. Here we had another bonus, our cancellations and finance rejections came in at less than 25%. But the net result was the best part, our gross income had trebled almost overnight with little or no change in overheads.
WE WORKED ON THE THEN 100/20/8 AND IT ALL WORKED LIKE MAGIC
Around 1992, things were a little less stringent in most sales arena’s and most sales or marketing plans were not the exact science they are today. Yet at the time we were covering new ground by introducing our somewhat then “radical” sales presentation. But on reflection, the only thing that was “radical” about it was that it incorporated the then really “revolutionary” selling process based on an equally “revolutionary” idea, the 100/20/8 formula.
In other words, the presentation was designed not to exceed 100 minutes in total (including the close), no one segment was to last more than 20 minutes without a power close (most were half that), followed by a number of trial closes and leading questions with page illustrations that would not exceed 8 minutes each.
Even “blind Freddy” would have been aware that no salesperson could spend 20 minutes on an “executive close” without impacting on the outcome of the sale.
None of us wanted to increase the chance of the sale falling over at the close, so the “executive close” over the phone was redrafted into four five minute segments. To ensure success here, I applied a short questioning process that then allowed me to use one of three closes, with a fourth close that I could then pass back to salesperson to affect while on the call.
Today that technique, as well as a host of others have become the scientific basis on which many sales platforms are now based on.
SADLY SO MANY OTHERS DON’T SEE THE NEED FOR CHANGE, AND IF THEY DO THEY DON’T VALUE IT
The saddest thing to see and hear today are those selling enterprises that tell you that a certain technique has worked really well for 10 or 15 years and they have no need for change. Whenever I hear things like that I know who will be the ones that will find it hard to attract good professional salespeople that can do the job to the satisfaction of the employer.
What’s more, many of those that do not keep abreast of today’s new sales trends and innovations are the ones that will also tell you to “do it my way or there’s the highway,” then wonder why so many that should have stayed take the option of the highway, rather than have to work for a “control freak” content to keep holding onto past victories and ideologies with an iron-clad grip.
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This Article is by Peter Collins – In a sales career spanning more than 50 years, Peter Collins has focused on helping and bringing out the best in others – whether it involves training or mentoring salespeople, managers, business consulting to SME’s. Since the 1970’s Peter has built a reputation as a Nationally and Internationally Published author, and of the 130 books he has written over the past 48 years, Peter has 65 Business Books to his credit, (but he is mainly known for one book based on the Audio Tape series of the same name, Over 50 Ways of Closing the Sale). Peter also has written 23 Christian books. One of Peter’s books, How to Play the Guitar sold almost 2 million copies in the late 1970’s and is still selling well through second hand online marketers worldwide. In his personal life, Peter has been sought after as an encourager and motivator that has given of his time and talents freely despite his busy schedule. Subsequently, he has assisted churches, pastors, community and charity groups, as well as individuals through his teaching, training, development and on-going mentoring.
© Copyright Peter Collins, Profit Maker Sales, Sydney, Australia, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2015, all rights reserved.
Peter can be contacted through his website – profitmakersales.com
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