|Want to increase your sales? Give your salespeople a script to practice and learn by heart. Make sure they are comfortable learning their lines and can field any tricky questions. Be their director.|
There’s a reason actors must learn a script for a movie or stage performance. They need to know whatto say and practice howto say it. Actors may do a great job of presentingwhat has already been written, but are not typically writersor directors. Ad-libbing the lines can mean a subpar effort. Yet this is what happens when sales personnel make up their own version of a sales presentation on yourlatest great product. It is up to you to give them a script and be their director.
Look at your sales opportunities in flooring, particularly for exciting new products or services. Focus on those where you can make above-average profit with an emotional appeal. Hopefully something that is either thinly distributed or where you can get an exclusive. You don’t want to spend a lot of time with something that is limited in scope or will fast become a commodity item.
The script. Who will write out the presentation, you or your supplier? Perhaps the best suggestion may be to get some help from your supplier and modify their presentation for your own company. That is often more effective, less costly and faster than doing it all yourself. Think about whowill be presenting and use short, powerful wording that gains attention, creates excitement, and compels action.
“These tiles come in bright, vivid colors that complement every décor, without wrecking your budget or creating a maintenance nightmare! And the best part is we’re offering a 30% introductory discount for the next 30 days.”
Involve the client by asking two or three simple questions which require yes answers. This will create the habit of saying yesrather than no. “With this flooring, slip resistance is guaranteed, and that would be pretty important in a busy lobby, now wouldn’t it?” (Wait for the ‘yes.’)“Great! Would you agree that color and style is a critical part of your flooring choice?”
Presentation scripts don’t have to be overly long and should use concise wording that is easily understood to tell a storythat will involve the client. Use examples that build a solid path with words and visuals to its natural close. The very best scripts appear to be a casual conversation that explain specific benefits to the listener.
Practice and preparation. Once written, learning the script requires reading and speaking the words. It is important to practice “out loud” to get used to using the words of the script. It is only when you are completely comfortable with a script and can recite it flawlessly that anydeviation from the written model should be attempted. Some sales scripts require more time than others because you’re telling a longer story. Others focus more on show and tell,which breaks up the tempo and has preplanned breaks for questions.
Once you think you know the script, practice by acting it out to another member of the sales team. There is always resistance to this step since it makes us self-conscious; however, if you can’t get your head into the script in practice, your “live” acting job will be terrible. You’ll rush your words and blow the timing. It won’t feel natural.
Practice with others that are learning the same script for several days, each taking their turnand providing feedback for improvements in delivery. “Jeff, you’re rushing your words; you missed several words and left out a sentence.” When you get complaints as a manager about having to practice, just ask yourself, “Do I really want to pay thousands of dollars to someone who won’t learn their lines?”
As sales team members learn their lines and feel more confident in their ability, come up with unexpected comments to intentionally disrupt their presentation. This will inoculate them against having a presentation meltdown when everything doesn’t go as planned. When everyone knows their lines, each practice will only make them better. Lay off practice a few days, and there’ll be missteps. A concert pianist once said, “If I miss a day of practice, I can tell the difference;if I miss a week, my audiencecan tell the difference.”
Make the presentation. Plan to use visuals along with the script, but not so many handouts, props, or PowerPoint slides that they steal attention from your words. Use them to make relevant points or a break in the tempo. Don’t use them as a crutch; you stillhave to know the script. One of the most boring presentations I ever experienced was the recitation of every bullet point on each PowerPoint slide. Aggghh!
Use handouts sparingly in a group presentation to make a specific point or show a product. With multiple handouts, use the presentation break to reinforce a major point of the presentation and keep the energy on track. “As shown in these side-by-side examples, this product will withstand repeated, directional abuse.”
You should know, within 45 seconds or so, exactly how long your scripted presentation will take to deliver. Do NOT get sidetracked into questions until you’re ready for them. This will disrupt the presentation flow and take you off on a tangent. In fact, some group members will delight in interrupting with questions just to see if they can get you rattled and make you fumble your script. The best way to handle this is to smile, and then say, “Great question, and I’ll come back to that in just a little bit. Okay?” Part of your success in a presentation is about remaining in control. Once you’ve completed the presentation, it is time to generate questions.
Handle questions. You should have developed questions when doing mock presentations during practice sessions. A great way to get good questions is to bring in several associates that are not familiar with the product or service,make the presentation, and find out what was unclearor didn’t make sense. Write their questions down; I guarantee you’ll hear some you weren’t expecting. Prepare an internal FAQ for the presentation so that detailed answers may be learned. Nothing kills the impact of a great presentation more than a presenter stumbling over answers or an awkward pause, followed by “I’ll have to get back to you.”
As with your script, practiceanswering questions. You should know at least 10 questions and answers about the product or service you’re selling. Most people are not thatcreative, so if you really know your product and method of installation, you should know the answers.
Treat each question with respect, not a curl of the lips that says, “I’ve only heard that one 20 times before.” Even if you know the answer, it is much better to say, “Good question, but can you expand on that a bit, (or) why do you ask…?” Then, when you answer, you will have treated the question with importance, flattered your questioner, and given a better response. Use a great question to bridge into a main point in your presentation or reinforce a point you’re trying to make. Of course, some listeners ask inane, stupid questions to be the center of attention. There’s usually one in every crowd. You never win by getting angry at a heckler, so don’t waste energy on bad questions or be insulting.
Closing the sale. Whether it’s a one-on-one presentation or to a group, you always want to orchestrate the “magic moment” to bring the performance to a close. One of the greatest advantages of the scripted presentation is you already know the words you’re going to use to ask for the order!
This last logical step in the presentation is what causes sweaty palms, dry throats, and a pounding of the heart. Here is where you make your appeal for their buying decision and commitment for business.
Summarize the main points, ask for their commitment, and then shut up!The colossal mistake made by most sales personnel is to keep on talking and avoidasking for the order.
A client’s question should be thought of as a request for more information and be turned into another opportunity to close the sale. When there’s a question, it may be answered with a question to gauge its importance to the buyer.
“Bill, is sound absorption more important or less important than surface texture and color?
“Chuck, this tile is within your budget range, you’ve said you like the color, and agree the maintenance would be easier; let’s go ahead and get this ordered for you today. Fair enough?”
“Joan, how soon may we get this project underway for you? Is May 1st soon enough or do I need to push for April 15th?”
“Kevin, if I’m able to arrange the complete installation package, including furniture lifting, do we have a deal?”
“Martha, you’ve said our proposal is a fair one; what can I do to get your okay on this project today?”
In the final analysis, the value of a scripted presentation is its success in closing a higher percentage of sales. No, it won’t work for every product. You must be committed to the process or you’llend up allowing each sales person to write his or her own version.Pick your shots, develop the right script and become a successful director. You’ll be glad you did and your sales team will thank you