How to Derail “Send me the presentation.”

“Send me the presentation.”

As a salesperson, these four words are equivalent to the kiss of death for a burgeoning business relationship. In my experience, this request is (polite) code for, “I am remotely interested, but not wowed enough to take this relationship further.” Or perhaps, “There are some good things here, so I’m going to email your presentation around the office. Once we’ve gleaned all the information we want, the file will be placed in a folder and we’ll forget all about it (and you).”

Too often I’ve seen potential relationships fizzle out when a well-meaning salesperson gives in to a request for an electronic copy of the deck used in a meeting. How do you break this pattern? It starts by understanding your role in the sales process.

A sales meeting should have a specific agenda, set by you, the salesperson. Prior to the meeting, you and your colleagues must determine the answers to two critical questions:

  • What are we asking of the prospect?
  • What commitment or action do we want in response?

The ball is in your court. At the beginning of the meeting, you lay out the agenda.  At the end of the meeting, ask your prospect for their thoughts. Listen. Answer questions. Don’t sell. If what you offer is right for the prospect, you’ll know it. If both you and the prospect agree your solution is viable for them, you define what subsequent actions each of you will take. This is when you ask for the next interaction, if necessary, making sure to include all interested parties.

When you’re in control of the sales process, the odds are on your side that you’ll avoid the kiss of death. Sometimes, however, people in the sales process are new to working together, roles are not clearly defined, or the team finds themselves on the defensive. You may also discover that the prospect has their own way of moving, which will alter the flow of the meeting. I’ve been in situations where I’ve held back so I could better understand the prospect’s dynamics or keep them from feeling overwhelmed, thereby sacrificing some control.

In such cases, when the dreaded presentation request cannot be avoided, honesty is the best policy.

“Sure, Ms. Prospect. I’d be happy to send over the deck. My one reservation is that when we’ve done so before, it is difficult to keep the conversation alive. So, if we send it, can we also agree to set up our next interaction, be it a call or in-person meeting, to keep the ball rolling?”

People like a straight-forward approach. It’s polite and is not a dishonest sales tactic. It feels like the truth — because it is — and a good prospect will be comfortable with the truth. Moments like this show the prospect you can be trusted, you want the business, and you expect to move forward. Building trust allows you to resume control of the conversation.

Do you need help avoiding or navigating the kiss of death? We’re available to help you win new accounts, improve your selling skills, and implement best practices that will positively impact your selling process.

Measuring the Hunch

Intuition is a powerful tool in a business setting. Sometimes, a situation just “feels” right (or wrong) and it makes sense to trust our instincts. However, relying on hunches shouldn’t be the basis for your sales strategy. But what if you could measure those hunches? What if you could take a feeling and turn it into facts?

Consider this example:

Bob has had considerable success selling his company’s technology services to small- to medium-sized insurance companies. He’s developed a great relationship with a client named Jill. In fact, Jill likes Bob so much that she introduces him to her neighbor Tom, who happens to be an administrator at a local private school. Tom and Bob hit it off and, before you know it, Tom’s school becomes Bob’s newest customer. Based on this experience, Bob has a hunch that he should explore selling into the education industry.

Bob now has a choice:

  • He can continue to focus specifically on the insurance industry, where he has a proven track record, and chalk the new relationship with Tom’s school up to good fortune. In doing so, is he ignoring a viable and untapped market?
  • He can divert his sales efforts to the education sector. This will require a learning curve and a new contact base, but the payoff could be great. Or it could fizzle out. Given that there are only so many hours in the day, is the time Bob will put into developing this new sector worth the risk of missing out on acquiring more business in the insurance industry, which has already proved to be a successful market?

Rather than move blindly into this new industry segment, a fact-based assessment can be used to measure Bob’s hunch and determine the viability of the market. Outreach to a sampling of prospects in the education industry can provide measurable data about whether his technology services are a good fit. With the right information, Bob can decide to follow his hunch or not without sacrificing sales along the way.

Measuring the hunch is a systematic way to use metrics to drive your sales strategy and process. It can be applied in a variety of sales situations:

  • You have a database full of prospects, but are concerned they are not the decision-makers. Your hunch can be validated or refuted by reaching out and ascertaining the prospects’ authority and interest in your company.
  • Your sales team gets potential customers to the finish line, but repeatedly fails to close the deal. You have a hunch that something specific in the sales process is being ignored or overlooked. Your theory can be tested by probing into the key questions that are left off the table during the sales process.
  • You’ve got a hunch that sales are down because you’re having a tough time connecting with your target audience. A variety of approaches can be used to identify key areas of focus and breakdowns in the sales process.

Intuition is helpful, but a sales strategy based on measurable data takes away unnecessary risk and positions your sales team for a greater chance of success. If you have a hunch you’d like measured, we are here to help!

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