COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | JEFFREY GITOMER

Questions that matter most in a sales presentation

When you’re giving your sales presentation, do you really know what the customer is thinking or what they’re asking themselves as you’re presenting?

I doubt it. You’re too busy trying to sell.

Shake the hand. Smile the smile. Show the slides. Talk the talk. Do the demo. Ask the superficial questions. Try the close. Try to overcome, “the price is too high.” Propose the proposal. Do the sales dance.

Meanwhile the customers are thinking. They are asking themselves questions about the validity of your product and your offer. They're thinking about how your stuff might fit into their company. And while you're talking, they may be Googling.

While you are trying to prove a point, they are trying to verify your information. In these times, they can do it in a nanosecond and you can't stop them.

While you're talking, they may be wondering if you have a Twitter account. So they do a quick search and find out that you do not. What's that about? How validating is that? If they ask you about it, you'll just brush it off. Suppose the customer is exceptionally Twitter-active? How does that make you look?

That's a small "tip of the iceberg" example of the thoughts that differentiate your sales presentation from the customer’s decision to buy. But let me take it deeper.

All customers, not just the decision maker, have a buying process. It’s a strategy and a process by which they make a purchase. And that purchase is based around the trust, safety and comfort your customer feels when buying something from you.

In order to gain that trust, and that feeling of safety, they asked themselves a bunch of questions without ever saying a word. You answer those questions with the words you speak. Your job as a master salesperson is to answer those silent questions in a manner that drives the customer to say, "I'll take it!"

The following list of questions is exactly what goes through the mind of a prospective customer during your presentation. The list is long, and customers may not ask themselves every one of these questions, but since you don't know specifically which ones they are going to ask themselves, you’d better be prepared with answers to all of them.

Here are the questions the prospective customer is asking:

• What do you offer?

• What do you offer that no one else has?

• What do you offer of value?

• How does your product compare to others I have seen?

• Does it really fill my need?

• Can you deliver?

• Is it real-world?

• Will it work?

• Will it work in our environment?

• How will it impact our people?

• How could it impact our success?

• Will senior or executive management buy in?

• Will my people use it?

• How will we produce as a result of the purchase?

• How will we profit as a result of the purchase?

• How will it come together?

• How do we buy it?

• What’s the risk in buying?

• Will you and your company keep your promises?

• Do I trust you and the people I’m buying from, both as humans and their ability to deliver service after purchase?

• Will you be my main contact after purchase or are you going to relegate me to “the service department”?

• Do I believe you?

• Do I have confidence in you?

• Are you telling me the truth?

• Do I have the trust and comfort to buy now?

Holy cow! All that?

Yes! All that and more!

This list of questions is by far the most comprehensive I have put together. They address both confidence in product and confidence in the salesperson.

The customer is seeking validation and wants to believe you. They need what you have and they're going to buy what you offer. The only question is: From whom? Depending on the answers to the above questions, they may not buy from you. Ouch!

Here are a few more thought-provoking challenges to help you understand the buying process:

1. The first sale that’s made is the salesperson. If the prospect doesn’t buy you, he’s not going to buy your product or service.

2. How’s your online reputation? What’s your Google ranking and reputation? Not your company. You!

3. What’s your social media reputation? Not Tweeting is a choice, but a poor one. How about LinkedIn? Do you have a business Facebook page?

4. Did you offer proof? Did you use voice-of-customer as testimonial proof to your claims?

4.5 Does the buyer have enough peace of mind to purchase?

I have just given you a mind full of sales information, from the mind of the only person that matters in your sales conversations: the customer.


Gitomer is the author of the new “21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling.” Details are at www.gitomer.com. He can be reached at salesman@gitomer.com.

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