AVPro has partnered with InfoComm International, to feature a series of seminars by industry experts. In the first of our series, AV experts advise sales personnel on how to create the ideal environment for making a sale. All good sales reps know how to link their ideas to the clients environment and express them in ways […]
AVPro has partnered with InfoComm International, to feature a series of seminars by industry experts. In the first of our series, AV experts advise sales personnel on how to create the ideal environment for making a sale.
All good sales reps know how to link their ideas to the clients environment and express them in ways the client can relate to. It isnt difficult to do, but it takes effort and practice. Heres how to do it:
1. Make a list of typical titles of prospects you call on. If necessary, ask your manager or other sales reps “Who makes decisions to buy our products or services in our clients companies?” People such as facilities managers, IT directors, marketing executives, and meeting planners, among others, might be among them, depending on what you sell.
2. Identify some broad responsibilities and/or concerns a person in that job probably has. A facilities manager, for example, wants the building to be well maintained, well utilised, efficient and up-to-date, safe and secure, attractive, properly equipped, easy-to-use, cost effective, etc. If you can list a dozen or so concerns like this for each type of person you call on, youll have an understanding of what they care about and work on all day.
3. Use this general information to get the individual you actually meet with to tell you more about specifics. How important these concerns are, or if there are some you werent aware of. (Clients will open up more to someone who already knows something about their world than they will with people who are clueless.)
4. Most importantly, make sure to connect all your ideas and recommendations to one or more of these concerns. Rather than saying “the control system is custom programmed so everything works from the keypad” its better to say “because some presenters who use this room wont have much AV experience; all the control functions have user-friendly language on the keypad menu so you wont get many calls about how this stuff works”.
How to identify client needs
Knowing there are many ways clients can use AV and many possible applications, how can you find out what this client needs so you can recommend the best of many possible choices in each specific circumstance? Why not just ask? Some know exactly what they wish to accomplish and exactly what they want to buy. Many (probably most) will need your help to determine that.
The best selling happens in a free exchange of information between the client and the provider. When you create a good dialogue, both of you can better understand the clients goals, The best selling happens in a free exchange of information between the client and the provider. When you create a good dialogue, both of you can better understand the clients goals, which should also be among your goals which should also be among your goals. A good dialogue is also friendlier and less threatening.
If you want the client to give a full, informative response (or just get them talking) ask open questions which are hard to answer with a word or two. Here are a few examples:
How do people here make presentations now?
What kinds of meetings are held in this facility?
How would you describe the current effectiveness of your training?
What would you like to see done differently or better?
Answers to questions like these tell you how your client thinks, how much they know and what they consider important.
If you need factual or specific information, ask closed questions, such as:
How many people will attend the general session?
Are there any windows or columns in that room?
When do you expect construction to start?
When its time to bring the client to your point of view, or persuade them that one of your ideas will work well, ask directive questions. These are questions which suggest their own answer are usually the ones you want to hear. Examples include:
Can you see the added value of a maintenance agreement to protect your equipment investment?
Wouldnt it be great if everyone knew how to take full advantage of this room?
Would you get more use out of the plasma screen or the projector and installed front projection screen?
Questions foster a dialogue, gather important information, get the client involved, persuade more softly than statements. Use them often, use them intelligently.
If you only master one skill in AV sales, make it effective listening! The best sales reps are always good listeners. Seems obvious, but it isnt. Many sales reps ask great questions, but dont listen to the answers and [dont] use the information they received. Some leave a meeting without good notes and cant remember what was said. These mistakes can be very costly and are completely avoidable!
If you listen really effectively the client will almost always tell you what you have to do or say to get the order! Dont let the stress of an important client meeting or conversation keep you from good listening. Discipline yourself in every client exchange to:
Keep quiet. You cant talk and listen at the same time!
Take good notes. Keep them in your client record with dates, names, and other facts.
Clarify what you dont understand. Ask the client to elaborate so you dont draw incorrect conclusions from what was said.
Summarise key points at the end of the conversation, both yours and the clients.
Dont leave a meeting or conversation unsure of what was discussed or agreed.
Avoid interrupting the client when he or she is speaking. Listen and make notes. Youll get your chance to respond!
Avoid distractions. Try to find a quiet, non-distracting place for your conversation whenever possible.
Concentrate on the subject. Try to keep one subject on the table at a time.
Avoid arguing or confronting. You can always come back to points of disagreement. As you listen, try to maintain a cordial tone.
Delay your response. In fact, pause for a few moments before you respond at all to what was said. Often the client will continue and you will learn even more.
Poor listening leads to incomplete or incorrect information. That causes confusion or the need to do things twice. If you have good information, your colleagues can help you better and your clients will have more confidence in you.