The Most Damaging Sales Tip to Avoid

by Chris Arlen on March 29, 2012

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Showtime: The One Right Time to Ask for the SaleABC (Always Be Closing) has damaged more reputations and hurt the selling profession more than any other sales tip.

Doubt that? Answer these truthfully:

  • Do you ask for the sale right after you first meet a customer?
  • Do you try to sell things customers don’t want or need?

Of course not. Asking for the order is only one component in a sale and it occurs at a specific time. There are other requirements. Ask at the wrong time and you’ll have lost a sale, and may have angered a customer by appearing insensitive and selfish.

Like an American driving a car in England, if sales reps don’t know the rules of the road and obey them, it doesn’t matter how skilled they are, a head on collision is coming. So it helps to know the difference between working on a sale and when it’s time to ask for a customer’s commitment.

Showtime is Selling Time

Selling only takes place after you’ve done your homework, and shaped your offer and materials. Once those are covered, then it’s Showtime. You will have talked with customers beforehand as part of your homework. However, talking with customers doesn’t mean it’s Showtime.

Here’s a sales rep’s take on the four parts of a sale: Prep, Offer, Props and Showtime.

Prep

This is the preparation work you do from your first customer contact up to the moment Showtime begins.

In Prep you dig out what you need to know to shape your Offer and Props. This is your due diligence to understand customers’:

  • Problems they need fixed
  • Improvements they want made
  • Company’s situation: is it stable, expanding, contracting, etc.?
  • Alternatives to you, i.e. competitors’ offers or status quo

Once you have this info and understanding, then you can customize your Offer and Props to specific customers.

Offer

This is the offer you will make during Showtime. The Offer is always shaped to what your customers need and want. The Offer is your solution that will help fix customer’s problems and/or help them make their desired improvements.

Even if you’re selling a stock item, there are components to shape to a customer’s specific buying situation. Things like terms, add-ons, size, scope and scale.

If you’re selling a complex item or service, there are plenty of components to be shaped into a customized solution.

Props

Props are the properties you’ll use to present your Offer during Showtime. They also include materials you’ll use to qualify yourself/company/product/service during Prep.

Props used in Prep include brochures, fliers, email, web sites, slideshows, etc. These gain you access to customers at the beginning so you can do your Prep work.

Props used during Showtime include proposals, responses to RFPs, and short-list slideshow decks. These are your vehicles for your Offer. Without them you’re only talking, and it’s hard to get customers’ signatures on air.

Once you’ve completed your Prep and shaped your Offer, you can then craft your Props. You’ll want to play back your understanding of the customer’s situation in your Prop before presenting your Offer. This shows customers your Offer is a solution to their needs/wants, not just a commission for you.

Showtime

This is it, Showtime. The defining moment in a sale. The only time you can make a sale because it’s the only time customers can buy — when your Offers are in front of them. You will have shaped your Offers, crafted it in your Props, and based it on the work you’ve done in Prep.

Showtime is when it counts. Perform poorly here and all your work is lost. You will only get a polite goodbye from your customers.

A Problem with Sales Reps

There is an inherent problem with many sales reps; they believe they are much better at Showtime than they are. They love to get up in front of customers and bray through their limited face time. At that point, bored and exhausted customers gratefully send them packing, and ultimately buy from a less painful sales rep, one who may also be less qualified.

An inconvenient reality is that sales reps can’t see their effect during Showtime. Watching practice videos is not enough. It can only help reps mimic a better posture, voice inflection or gesture. It doesn’t help reps be present in the moment; to be honest and authentic.

And there are authentic sales reps who unintentionally appear manipulative and false. They’ve picked up “sales presentation tricks” and ignorantly use them. The results are disastrous. Customers see them as self-interested and self-serving. They can smell falseness in seconds. During Showtime customers are actively looking for it. They have their sensors out, feeling the airwaves for signals of a lying, cheating salesperson.

The way out for sales reps is to learn Showtime skills based on truthful reality. A daunting and ambiguous, but necessary requirement.

Do you Agree?

There’s only one time in a sale to sell: Showtime. Prep work must be done first, then Offers shaped before crafted into Props.

Is it this simple?

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