Imagine walking into a great restaurant where the waiter presents you with the dessert menu and says, “At Chez TSW, we expect everyone to begin with our fine dessert selections. What would you like today?”
Perhaps they have choices like Crème Brûlée, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Brownie Sundae, Seasonal Fresh Fruit, Assorted Gelatos and Lemon Méringue Pie.
Maybe you’ve been eating well, making smart food choices and would have otherwise passed on dessert. But because you were encouraged to begin with dessert and you do enjoy dessert the most, you pick the Chocolate Brownie Sundae.
You didn’t go out to dinner planning to start with dessert, but you were encouraged to do so.
Salespeople may not go to sales meetings or get on phone calls planning to start with a presentation, but they are encouraged to do so. And since presenting is the sales competency that most salespeople are most comfortable with, they politely oblige.
You may not be able to stop prospects from asking you to present early in the process. At the same time, more salespeople are developing an awareness that presentations should take place to only qualified, motivated, committed prospects. Unfortunately, it will only be apparent that you are working with a qualified, motivated, committed prospect at the end of the sales process, not at the beginning. So how can a salesperson deflect the request to present in the first call or meeting when they won’t know whether the prospect is qualified until the end?
Agree to present. Tell them that you would love to. Make them believe you can’t wait. You’re eager. Nothing would make you happier. Presenting is like having dessert for an appetizer.
And then, before you show your second slide, say, “Most of my customers have found that my presentation is much more relevant when I put it into context. Could I ask a couple of questions to help me with context?”
You will receive permission.
As soon as you do, return to the beginning of your process and start asking questions until you have discovered their compelling reason to buy. Monetize their compelling reason, get them emotional about it, and that creates urgency. Urgency allows you to fully qualify after which you can present.
My previous paragraph overly simplifies that single most difficult part of a consultative sales process; the art of listening and asking questions, digging wider and deeper, to find the compelling reason to buy and buy from you. 12 words within a 400 word-article cannot do it justice. However, my Blog, at omghub.com has hundreds of articles that dig deeper.
The most important skill for dealing with requests to present earlier than you should is awareness. You must know which stage in your sales process you are in and where you should be to take a milestone-specific step. Only then can you tell yourself that you shouldn’t be agreeing to present even though it will be delicious.
As with an early dessert, it will leave you bloated (pipeline), feeling guilty (shouldn’t have done it) and believing that while it seemed like a good idea, it wasn’t prudent.