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Humanize the Sales Process

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Q & A

Q. Sometimes when I'm presenting to clients, I sense that the customer tunes out. Is there a better way to communicate with a customer or engage them?

A. Salespeople get caught up in the hype of their own product and lose touch with their client's reality sometimes. You may be an expert in your field, but you have to assume the client is not. Most clients do not speak tech-ese, so you have to couch the conversation in language that is familiar.

Q. In high tech sales situations, what are some ways of obtaining better results on sales calls?

A. Start by shifting the focus from you to your client. Instead of presenting information to a client on your first sales call, try asking the client what expectations they have for the meeting. You can build a list of desired results from their answer. Try using questions that put the client in the driver's seat. For example, "What would you like to learn more about?" or "How can I help resolve these issues?"

Q. Are clients actually put off by technical language?

A. It depends, because there are instances when it is appropriate. If you're speaking to a technical person who expects you to inform them about these aspects, go ahead. In many cases, the decision maker is not technical, so speaking in terms the client does not understand wastes their time. Even worse, they feel uncomfortable. Do you know anyone who would buy under these circumstances? There is no easier way to lose a sale then alienating a client.

Q. What's the best way to speak about a technical product to a non-technical person?

A. Refrain from using acronyms and technical jargon. Some common words that are not generally understood are IPSEC, T-1s, WIFI, Routers. Concentrate on the problem they need to fix or the result they want to achieve. If the client needs a technical description, they'll ask for it. Otherwise, avoid using these words.

Q. What are some other key ways I can improve the sales experience for my clients?

A. You need to humanize the sales experience. Once you learn to communicate in ways that relate to and reach they client, you regain your most distinguishing feature ? yourself. Shorten your presentations by focusing on the capabilities and solutions you can provide in the client's unique business environment. Learn to listen closely, catch key phrases, and hone in on their needs, not your own sales agenda. Incorporate business terms that are meaningful to the client in your dialogue.

Q. Do you think the first meeting with a prospective client should be a fact-finding interview?

A. That is one way of thinking about it. Keep in mind clients don't consider your products and services just for the heck of it. They either have a problem they need to fix or a result that must be achieved. The salesperson's job is to use questions to uncover their business challenges and concerns. The goal in the first meeting is to set the foundation to build a relationship.

Q. When I'm presenting my high tech solution, how do I position it to come across persuasively so that the customer wants to purchase it?

A. Don't simply explain what your product does and how it works. Present the value it brings to their business. For example, most salespeople would sell a high-speed internet connection that claims to be x times faster, rather than selling a solution that allows the client to process orders at a higher rate resulting in increased revenues. Demonstrate the benefits by linking back to how it will solve problems and achieve results.

Amy Fox, Accelerated Business Results

About The Author

Amy Fox has designed and delivered sales training for Fortune 500 telecommunications and technology firms for companies such as Global Crossing Telecommunications, Cincinnati Bell, and Trivantis. Ms. Fox has taught M.B. A. courses at Xavier University on creating a coaching culture. Amy Fox founded Accelerated Business Results in 2003.

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