What's Write Today is all about effective sales training

I just read a really great article in Selling Power magazine (Nov/Dec 2007) about training a sales team to give effective sales presentations. A large part of my diverse professional background has centered on selling. Be it selling (pitching) an article or an idea to an editor, providing training solutions to the adult workforce or selling my own contract writing services - selling has been a driving force to my success.

Having written all of that - I also have to say I've read so many books on selling such as:

  • The Nordstrom Way
  • The Greatest Salesman in the World
  • Words that Sell
  • Zig Ziglar's Secrets of Closing the Sale
  • Cold Calling Techniques
  • The 10-minute Salesman
  • Marketing Minds
  • Guerrilla Marketing Attack
  • Several Peter Drucker books
  • Several Tom Peters books
  • McDonald's Behind the Arches
  • Value Added Selling Techniques
  • Why People Buy Things They Don't Need
  • Why This Horse Won't Drink
  • Writing Advertising That Sells
  • and on and on and on.

All of the theories and all of those great minds have one basic underlying premise: Take care of your customers/clients/readers and they will buy and read.

The article in Selling Power - How to Deliver Persuasive Presentations is aimed at training sales managers to deliver an effective sales presentation. The piece describes the basic structure of any presentation which includes:

  1. The introduction
  2. The body
  3. The conclusion
  4. The close

This basic structure can be applied to any profession or almost any situation. As a writer, I follow that structure for every piece I create be it a feature article, an editorial, an promotional piece or a press release. Just think how many places this structure can serve you - can you name 3 areas without thinking overly hard?

Back to the article - the author also suggests that every sales presentation has to answer 3 basic questions:

  1. Why you?
  2. Why your company?
  3. Why now?

Answering those questions will lead to making the presentation informative and persuasive. And, don't forget - you have to make it all entertaining so as not to lose the interest of those you are trying to inform and persuade. The article is short and to the point and brings home the theory that is written about so much - and for which I am writing about now.

To be successful in sales or selling or really in life itself - you have to first listen to what is needed - second find relevant solutions - and third present the solutions and yourself as a viable option to help the customer/client/reader. That's all anybody really wants - is to be helped.

If more sales persons would boil all the advice, all the training and all the special effects of selling down to that one point - really helping the client - the act of selling becomes invisible. Think about it - nobody likes to be sold - they like to buy what they believe is the answer to their current problem. So stop selling - start helping. Instead of asking "Can we sign you up today?" ask, "What do you think? Do you think this will work?"

The article also gives a list of most frequently asked questions about sales presentations. One asks the nine most common mistakes made by sales pros. Number one on the list of mistakes is winging it and number two is being too informative and not enough persuasive. Both of which can be eliminated by thinking of the problem and looking for the solution. When you present the solution - you will be talking the same language as the customer/client/reader and you will not have to worry about having to wing it or to being too informative.

I've had so many people tell me that they don't understand how I can close so often (at one time in my career I was closing around 90% of the time) because it doesn't appear as though I sell at all. By all outward appearances - everyone perceives my selling technique as pure and simple conversation. Ok, I'll agree with that. And, more importantly, so can my customers/clients/readers.

I am just as guilty as other sales professionals of reading all of the new and improved (or really restated) sales theories. I read the Selling Power magazine after all. This particular article is very good because it does take us back to the basics. You can watch the 5-minute video of the article at www.sellingpower.com/video and then search for Sjodin. The information presented is worth the 5 minutes.

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