6 Things NEVER to Say During Your Sales Presentation

I’ve been listening to sales rep pitch their products and services for over 25 years now, and there are still words, phrases and techniques that send shivers down my spine. And I’ll tell you now they send shivers down the spines of their prospects and clients, too.

Let’s face it – when selling over the phone, all you have is your voice, and the way you deliver your presentation – the words you use, the inflection, pacing and timing you use – has a huge impact on the way you are perceived by your prospects. Unfortunately, many sales reps project an image of being unprepared, unsure, rushed and sometimes even scared.

Your prospects sense this immediately. They know from your first few sentences whether they are dealing with a confident sales pro, or with someone who isn’t very sure of what they’re selling and who is uncomfortable with the sales process. And like sharks, these prospects will attack and blow you off with all the stalls, resistance and objections you get now.

If you want to project an image of professional competency, then make sure and avoid using any of the following statements or words:

What NOT to say when cold calling or prospecting:

1) Stop opening your calls with, “How are you?” I’ve written about this before, but 99% of sales reps are still telegraphing themselves as unwanted sales persons by starting out their conversations this way. How do YOU feel when someone you don’t know calls you and uses this worn out line? Probably like hanging up on them- which is exactly how your prospects feel as well. So stop it!

Instead, use a better opening line that immediately differentiates you from all the other sales reps calling your prospects. Use something that connects with them instead, that focuses them on the call and that forces them to think and interact with you.

A few of my favorites are: “How’s your Tuesday going so far?” and “Has it started/stopped snowing there yet?” and “Can you hear me O.K.?”

2) Take the word, “individual” out of your vocabulary when speaking, emailing or otherwise addressing a prospect, as in, “I know you’re a busy individual… The word individual is an institutional, cold phrase that doesn’t belong in a sales conversation.

Think about it: When was the last time someone you didn’t know called you and referred to you or your wife as “individuals”? How’d that make you feel? Did it give you the warm and fuzziness or did you make you think you were about to be committed?

The language you use must help you create a natural, conversational tone, and words like, “busy individual” or “busy professional”, etc, do just the opposite.

3) “Things of that nature.” I cringe as I even write those words… Whenever I hear a sales rep end a sentence with “Things of that nature,” I’m pretty sure they have no idea of what they’re talking about. That phrase is most often used by mediocre sales reps to hide or cover up the truth that they don’t know all the details of what they’re talking about. Or, it is used to as lazy way to bridge into other qualifying questions.

If you are using it now, please consider using something else, or better, explain a few of those “things” and then use a tie down to see how that landed…

What NOT to say when closing a sale:

1) “Can you transfer me to (the decision maker)?” Most presentations end with the stall: “Well, I need to run this by my boss/partner/manager/corporate, etc.” Unfortunately, this usually comes as a surprise to many sales reps who failed to qualify for this upfront. Some sales reps then think they can just bulldoze through the stall by demanding to talk to the decision maker right then and there.

While I applaud you for your tenacity, asking to blatantly go above the person’s head you’re speaking to or have just pitched, immediately alienates them. Often times this person is some kind of sales influencer and alienating them is NOT what you want to do.

Instead you should use different techniques, one of which being: “So, John, when you consult with your manager, is this something that you’re sold on and will recommend to them?” (If yes, then): “Great, how can I help you sell them on this?” (Only if they can’t think of anything): “Would it help if I spoke to them and went over this just like I did with you?”

That’s the way to get permission and to finally earn the right to speak to the decision maker.

2) “I don’t know about that – let me get back to you.” It’s O.K. that you don’t have an answer for something, but what’s important is that you convey that in a confident manner. Try any of the following:

“That’s a great question and we have several ways of handling that. Let me ask you a couple of questions regarding your particular situation, and then I’ll be able to get the best solution for you… OR

“That’s a good question for my technical support team. Let me see what they would propose and get back with you.” OR

“We have a whole department that deals with that, and I’ll check with them to give you the best solution.” Each of these responses helps you delay answering until you get the right answer, but they paint the picture of a bigger, more competent company structure which helps to give you credibility.

3) “When should I call you back?” Why would you want to put the crucial follow up of your sale in the hands of your customer? Asking this question means handing over control of the sale to the prospect which means you lose control. That’s bad. Here are better ways of keeping control and getting a commitment for a follow up call:

“How long will that take?” Then: “O.K. I’ve got my calendar open and that would put us to Tuesday of next week. Are you looking at your calendar? Great. How does 2:45pm look for you?” OR

“(Prospect Name) you’re probably as busy as I am, so let’s go ahead and schedule a follow up call to access progress. I can do this same time (tomorrow, Friday, next week), does that work for you?” OR

“It’s going to take me (a day, two days, a week, etc.) to get this started on my end, how about I give you a call around Friday at this time to see if there’s anything else you need? Does 2:15pm work for you again?”

The key here is to get a commitment. All top producers remain in control of the selling process and know when the next call in the sales cycle is – and so do their prospects!

So there you have six things to stay away from during your next sales call. As you use these techniques, you’ll find yourself developing better rapport, getting more information and staying in control of your selling situations. Heck, it’s starting to sound like you’re a top producer already!

Sales Negotiation – How Do You “Do”?

Sales negotiation is a perennial weakness for many sales organizations. A primary reason for this weakness is that many salespeople, by nature and/or necessity, are action oriented. You know, the “just give me my goals and get out of my way” type. They crave instant action, particularly when action equals gratification.

Yet, to paraphrase Louis Pasteur, “Opportunity favors the prepared mind.” To be effective negotiators, salespeople need to invest significant time in preparation.

This is just like remodeling a kitchen: the prep work takes the most time. It is painfully tedious. It can feel like you’re not making progress. But, if you skip steps, it can cost time, aggravation, and money in the long run.

It’s not that salespeople don’t conceptually understand this. They do. The most successful sales managers close this “knowing / doing gap” by broadening the definition of what “doing” means in salespeople’s own minds. They redefine progress. For example, if you asked salespeople to define negotiation, most would say that it’s the act of negotiating the price, terms, and conditions of sales with current and new customers-and winning! But what if the definition of negotiation also included the actions of pre-defining their opening strategy and concession strategy?

Well, what happens is that challenging issues (for example, price and the role of purchasing) are deliberately woven into initial conversations. This sort of “negotiation selling” requires customer insight, preparation, and a degree of flexible choreography or “process negotiation”-thinking about how, where, and when to introduce possible points of negotiation into the conversation. The stress of intense end-stage negotiations (in which the customer has the leverage) is greatly reduced, and successful negotiations result.

How about you? When negotiating, how do you “do”?

Valentine’s Presents – Delight Someone Special With A Thoughtful Valentine’s Gift Idea

Few people know the real origins of Valentine’s Day and it always amazes me how quickly celebrations of any kind become so very commercialised. Whose idea was Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and more recently Grandparent’s Day. Is it because we are so busy with our lives that we need a ‘special’ day to be reminded to think about and be grateful for our families and loved ones and all they do in our lives? What about a son’s day or a twin sisters day? We should be able to express our emotions and show how we feel about the people we care for any day of the year. That aside it is nice to have an excuse and in the case of Valentine’s Day can be a good way to let someone know how you feel who you may not have had the courage to approach otherwise.

So, one of the most traditional Valentine’s gifts are red roses. Have you ever noticed how some retailers double or even treble the price of red roses around Valentine’s Day? Extortion is the word that comes to mind – although they are under great pressure to deliver vast quantities in a short period of time. Why not consider for a refreshing change sending someone flowers other than red roses? Perhaps choose a bouquet in their favourite colour or an arrangement featuring their favourite flower – orchids are a popular choice and they are grown in a huge variety of colours. Even more thoughtful would be a rose-bush for their garden or a miniature one for indoors – that way they can have roses every year and for more than a week!

As popular as red roses for a Valentine’s present is chocolates! Instead of just buying commercially available boxes of chocolates with foil wrapped hearts in a red-heart shaped box, ‘nice but not very personal’, try instead making your own sweet treats. Strawberries dipped in chocolate, heart-shaped biscuits or a heart-shaped cake, or even buy some chocolate moulds, melt their favourite chocolate and make your own – you will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is.

How many ways can you say I Love You? Nine if you choose this really great gift idea of nine stones carved with “I love you… ” on the front, and a different “reason” on the back:
… for always getting my jokes
… because you’re an inspiration
… because you are so much fun
… because of your great smile
… for being so giving
… because I just do!
… because you love me
… because you rock
… for your honesty

The stones are presented beautifully in a red faux-suede drawstring pouch – why not give your sweetheart one each day leading up to Valentine’s. These stones actually make a great gift for any friend or family member you feel strongly about and should not be reserved just for Valentine’s Day.