It doesn't matter what you sell. Whether it's widgets or watermelons,
we all face the same challenge -- connecting with our customers and
getting our message across. I've devised a simple way to do this.
I never forget my PAL™: the Purpose, Audience
and Logistics of every sales call. This is the same method
I use when preparing for any kind of presentation -- from a one-on-one
meeting to a full-fledged "dog and pony show" with visual
aids. You can do it, too.
Most business professionals know that when you give any type of presentation,
you have to be conveying some value to audience members, remembering
to answer their unspoken WIIFM question: "What's In It For Me?"
It doesn't matter what you are trying to sell. Whether it's widgets
or watermelons, insurance policies or phone service, we all face the
same challenge -- connecting with our audience/customers and getting
our message across. How do you win over your listeners and close the
Here's a simple way to do this. Never forget your PAL™: the
Purpose, Audience and Logistics of every sales
call you make. This is the same method you can use when preparing
for any kind of presentation -- from a one-on-one meeting to a full-fledged
"dog and pony show."
The first point to remember is the P. Always keep your Purpose in
mind. Do you want to generate sales leads? Sell a new product to an
existing customer? Get a first order from a new customer? Or, merely
inform them about your services?
What do you want your audience members to know, feel or do when they
leave your sales presentation? Without this clarity, typically nothing
happens. With a specific end result in mind, you will be more able
to outline and develop your presentation more easily.
Being clear about the purpose of your sales call or sales presentation
will help you prepare the right information to get your message across
and keep you focused.
The "A" in PAL stands for Audience - the buying group or
prospective buyers. Find out as much as you can about your audience
members and the industry in which they operate before preparing your
presentation. Even seasoned professional speakers sometimes forget
to do all their homework and wind up losing a sale. There have been
numerous examples of speeches given with information that was either
too far above or too far below the knowledge level of the audience.
You want to ask yourself: Who is in the audience? Are they prospective
clients or represent repeat business? Why are they there? What are
their demographics (Where are they from? How old are they?). What
is their attitude toward your objective? What knowledge do they have
and do they need? The "right" information to the wrong audience
limits your chance of achieving your objectives.
Where and when can you learn about your clients and prospects?
Before the presentation, you can do a Web search, read annual reports,
and talk to others that have spoken to the same group. Ask the right
questions of the person who invited you to present - or, better yet,
ask some of the attendees. This type of advance preparation helps
you customize the material and organize the content.
Whatever you do, make sure you are sensitive to the client. I know
someone who almost lost a huge contract with United Parcel Service
(UPS). After making a successful sales call, the well-meaning salesperson,
almost on autopilot, told the client she'd FedEx him more information
about her company's services! Wrong. The UPS contact asked her to
repeat what she intended to do, and when she realized her mistake,
she profusely apologized. The salesperson explained that her company
had an account with FedEx, but that they also often use UPS. You can
be sure that when the materials did go out, it was delivered by a
driver wearing a brown uniform!
Here are two other pointers to remember along these lines:
- Don't offer
Cokes at lunch when the client is Pepsi.
- Don't drive
to a client site in an Avis car when the client is Budget.
Another way to properly prepare for your client is to arrive early
before the sales presentation; observe and talk to people. This is
a good opportunity to make last minute changes. Never forget what
Yogi Berra said: "It ain't over 'til it's over." In other
words, if your presentation isn't going well, change course. Doing
a proper audience analysis and coming with the attitude of "serving"
your listeners, will enhance your chance for success.
Logistics represents the "L" in PAL. Knowing the logistics
of your sales call or meeting in advance can save you a lot of grief
later. Are you part of a team or panel of speakers/ prospective vendors
- all scheduled to pitch product and services? What will the other
company speakers be discussing? How large is the audience? What visual
equipment is available? How much time do you have to present? What
time of day will you be speaking? The answers to these questions are
crucial factors in helping you tailor your sales pitch and presentation.
If you will be using visual aids, be certain you have the proper equipment
including replacement bulbs, extra extension cords or anything else
that might botch your presentation. If you will be going to your prospect's
place of business for the first time, you might want to make a pre-visit
to familiarize yourself with not only travel time but the office setup.
Often a friendly receptionist will be able to show you the conference
room or other setting where you will be making your presentation.
Once you have determined your PAL, write your overall objective in
one sentence or less. In other words, begin with the end in mind.
Be prepared for the unexpected. Be prepared to answer questions you
might never have encountered before. Be prepared to be at your best.
And don't forget your PAL.
With good preparation and practice, you will be prepared and close
Brody Communications Ltd. 1999