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Buying is Not a Spectator Sport By Tom Hopkins


Operating their mouths at light speed, some salespeople put on amazing demonstrations. They flip levers, punch buttons, and zip stuff around. Out of the machines they’re demonstrating come a flood of perfect parts, data, copies, or whatever. But they don’t sell much with these superb performances. Why not? Because apathy rushes in where involvement fails to tread.

Buying is action. It can’t take place unless there are decisions, and decisions require a switched-on mind. Watching, instead of doing, is a switch-off. The longer your prospects are switched off, the harder it will be to switch them back on again when you want the paperwork approved at the end of your demonstration.

The Champion salesperson avoids the long switch-offs, and demonstrates by encouraging the client to enter the data, thread the needle, or feed the parts. Of course, the client won’t do these things as well as, or as fast as, a practiced salesperson can. But if the client is participating instead of watching, he or she is thinking about your product instead of wondering how to spend the weekend or what to have for dinner that night. In fact, the client is doing more than merely thinking about your product — he or she is experiencing it. That means getting emotionally involved with what you’re selling.

However great or small this emotional involvement may be, it’s certainly going to be far greater than if your prospect just sits there while you give your presentation.

Rather than thinking of yourself as the star of your presentation, think of yourself as the manager for a star. The star, of course, is your product. Your major focus in getting exposure and building relationships for your star is to help others get to know it better. You simply operate the spotlight to control the show where the potential client gets emotionally involved with your star.

If you accept that, you’ll want to find as many reasonable and positive ways as you can to involve your prospects in your product. First, and foremost, get yourself out of the picture. Unless you, personally, move in with the client (and the product) the client should never see you stand between them and the product. Their exposure needs to be firsthand.

One of the greatest fears we all have in selling situations is that we will trust what the salesperson shows or tells us, buy the product or service that’s for sale, and then, once we own the product, it won’t fulfill our expectations or meet our needs. The best demonstrations give us the opportunity to prove to ourselves that what the salesperson is telling us is true.

Some of the best methods I know of for encouraging relationship-building between your product and future client are participation techniques that we’ve been discussing. If you’ve been switching your prospects off with “I’m-the-star!” performances, you’ll need to completely overhaul your demonstration to successfully convert it — and yourself — to the client-participation method.

The truth is, you will be the star when you master the client-participation demonstration: first, when you have your prospects happily involved in your demonstrations and product, and second, when they happily approve the paperwork.

The difference is small, but vital. Win your ooh’s and ah’s by showing your prospects how to do amazing things in your demonstration model, not by doing amazing things on it yourself. They’ll be ‘selling’ themselves on moving from a state of wanting the product to a state of needing it. Once they realize it suits their needs, it’s just a matter of closing.

Here’s how to develop the client-participation demonstration technique into a powerful selling tool:

1. List all the steps the client must go through to understand how badly they need your device’s capabilities. Then, figure out as simple an exercise as you can, to demonstrate each capability. Make each exercise distinctive, and give it a name that’s easy to remember. Use as much color as possible.

2. List every question and objection that you’re likely to encounter during a demonstration.

3. Arrange the demonstration and the question / objection answering into a smooth-flowing sequence.

4. Check and re-check the delivery of your lines. Discard those that don’t work well, and add new ones that do.

The successful client-participation demonstration is organized so that each step is simple and leads smoothly to the next, yet the prospect feels a constant challenge and a growing sense of excitement. Keep the pace fast. Brush over minor details. And encourage, encourage, encourage.

If your product is tangible, you must have the future client push the buttons, make the connections, flip the switches, and so on. For example, with a copier, Sue should bring in something she needs copied today. Verbally walk her through making the copy. Then have her learn something about a new feature on the machine that will fulfill other needs she has.

If you market intangibles, preparation is critical. Bring with you either a customized presentation, which includes specific information about the client or a laptop with capabilities for providing specific answers when you plug in the information you gain during the qualification sequence. Until the figures become real for the potential client, there’s little emotional involvement and not enough information for them to make a wise decision. Once they have their actual numbers, they can easily see the value of your product or service to them.

Take the frustration and pressure out, put the fun and relaxation in, and you’ll be successful with client-participation demonstration.

When you’re confident of your new techniques, go out and happily involve two, three, or four times as many people in experiencing your product as you ever did before. Do that and two more benefits will automatically come your way:

1. You’ll spend less time making each sale because you will have solved the challenge of involving people in your offering.

2. You’ll get more referrals because you will be developing greater rapport with your clients. In other words, they’ll want others to have the same enjoyable experience they have just had with you.
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Tom Hopkins International
7531 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Tel: (480) 949-0786 or 800/528-0446 Fax: (480) 949-1590
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