Why Selling Your Customer What They Ask For Won’t Always Get You The Sale

“Every great sales coach will tell you, if you want to sell more – you have to get inside your prospect’s head and get to the heart of their problem. But, can you always trust what your prospect tells you? Short answer: No. While those sales coaches are right, you do need to ask questions and find out what your prospects want, they don’t tell you that the real problem you’re trying to solve is often several levels deeper than what your prospect shares. Why? Because the questions you’ve been trained to ask like “what problems are you struggling with” cue scripted responses from your prospect! This is just not going to cut it anymore. Questions like these are too familiar. Dozens of other salespeople have come knocking before you, asking the same questions and your prospect has already mentally prepared the answers they think you’ll be looking for. No, if you want to get to the core of what your audience needs, it requires that you change your perspective on what questions you should be asking. Better yet, instead of just asking questions, how about providing insight! In step one of the Insight Selling Method we talk about building rapport to create a connection with your prospect by listening and then creating a clear picture of the problem based on their answers, all in real time. This does more than just make them feel valued and appreciated. It allows you to really get to the core of what they need. Insight selling allows you to connect with your audience as a human-to-human instead of speaker-to-listener. Show you are listening by finally ending your questions, and then painting a clear picture of their problem (that they may not be aware of themselves!). Next, once there is an agreement, you can discuss options for potential solutions. The more you do this, the more your prospects will trust you because most salespeople are ONLY asking them questions…while providing little insight (only 17% of B2B Sales Professionals do). But not you, you’re different… You have a new perspective, one that going to take you places in 2019! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me a quick message. ...

The Outdated Sales Method That’s Holding You Back

“Everyone focuses on the presentation, but the main goal is communication, so stop merely presenting and begin effectively communicating your ideas to your audience.” – Brian Williams When a new sales trainee comes to me and says “I’m just not getting the results I know I’m capable of,” 99% of the time I know what the problem is before I even take a look at their strategy. It’s the same mistake that over 80% of all the sales people in the world, including veteran professionals, are making each day that holds them back from creating the income they dream of. What’s this career-crippling mistake, you ask? It’s selling your product or service instead of selling the outcome. Too many sales presentations focus on this old, outdated method they were taught years ago when they first got into the sales game. In fact, over 50% of the sales training programs available today are still teaching this same strategy. But there’s a different way. A better way. And it begins with flipping the “product/service-focused presentation” formula on it’s head. Creating engaging presentations that drive results is no longer about telling your audience what you think they need to know, it’s about answering what they WANT to know. This can be a difficult mental switch to make, because we’re all experts at our own industry, but it will make a difference not only in the engagement of the audience, but in the results you’ll get when it’s time for them to write a check. At the end of the day, your audience is here to solve a problem and a viable solution is truly the ONLY information they’re interested in. Your goal should not be to spill facts, figures, and features but to walk them through the transformation they’ll go through by using your product or service. If you can successfully get them to picture themselves in the after state of using your product/service, you’ll increase your chances of making the sale.  Note: This is exactly why when you enter model homes they are beautifully and fully furnished with cookies baking in the oven, not filled with whiteboards of facts and figures. And the reality is, if you effectively sell your audience (prospect) on the outcome, they’ll naturally have questions about the product or service. This is where you can step in and share your knowledge…not before. Here are 4 quick ways to tell if you presentation is prospect-focused: Reworking your presentations to focus on your audience (prospect) will be an absolute game-changer. It’s time to level up your sales game and get closer to the million-dollar mark by taking on this fresh perspective when creating your next presentation. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me a quick message. ...

Don’t Waterboard Your Audience

Have you been here? About one third of the way through your pitch, you look around the room and your audience is drowning in the flood of your words. You can tell you’ve lost them long before you’ve even gotten to the point. They are doodling, looking out the window, or flipping through the pages of your handouts. They are not listening to you and your message is dead on arrival. It could be that you are saying too much. Your audience cannot keep up. There is a downpour of information, and they don’t see how the pieces fit together. Take a Test – If you have experienced this dead-eyed audience, or even suspect it, I have an exercise you can try.  Get together with an acquaintance who doesn’t know too much about your business. Ask if he will help you out by listening to your pitch and answering the following questions. Then, tell him your elevator pitch. Keep it to about one minute. Then ask him these 3 questions: What does your company do? How can your company make life better for its clients? How would a potential client take the next step to purchase? Your Test Results – If your acquaintance cannot answer those three questions clearly and precisely, it could be that you have not honed your sales message down to exactly what you do, your benefits, and how to “place an order.” You may be communicating too much ancillary information at the expense of the vital stuff. This lack of targeted focus on your part is probably the culprit that is losing your audience to daydreams and doodles during presentations. Prepping to Retake the Test – Let me show you how you can change your audience’s perspective by employing a tool called a storyboard. The storyboard is a process that will help you organize the points of your sales message, allowing you to intensely focus your points so you don’t drown them in too much information. A clear, concise message will compel your audience to conform to your expectations because they will see that you understand their needs and can deliver a solution that solves a problem for them and ultimately makes a positive impact on their revenue. The Formula – A good storyboard is made of of three main points. It begins with an introduction that tells your audience where you are going. It smoothly transitions from point to point, always reminding the audience where you are ultimately going. And where are you going? You are going to demonstrate how you can solve a problem for them. And, in conclusion, you will wrap up the points with a clear call to action that helps the audience fully understand the next step to take to buy your product or service. See the infographic below to help you visualize the storyboard process.  Pass the Test with Higher Results – As you prepare for your next big sales presentation, take the time to test your elevator pitch with an acquaintance (or several). Get their feedback to ensure you know your messaging is refined enough that it can be reduced, and repeated by others who have only heard it once. If you don’t pass the elevator pitch test with a score of 100%, follow the storyboard formula so you can ace the next presentation. ...

Read About Perspectivity on VoyageDallas.com!

Earlier this month, my interview with VoyageDallas.com went live on their site. In our chat, I got to share a little bit of my story, how Perspectivity came to be, how amazing it is to be co-running this business with my wife, and a few other tid-bits. VoyageDallas is a new and flourishing digital magazine that focuses on highlighting what’s happening in the Dallas community. Tasha and I were honored to be featured on their site, and if you’re looking for something to do in Dallas, or maybe a little local inspiration, give VoyageDallas a look. Enjoy! -Brian WIlliams   VD: Brian, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. BW: I graduated with a Computer Science degree from Texas A&M, which is where I met Tasha, who also has a technical degree from A&M. I then worked for many tech companies, mostly in Silicon Valley. Companies like Cisco, Nortel, Motorola, and Ericsson and several other tech startups. I was in Software Design/Test, then Technical Marketing, and finally Technical Pre-Sales. My last corporate position was Head of Global Business Strategy, which was a technical pre-sales organization. After 12 countries and 20 years, I began to see inferior technology win against superior ones, because their sales pitch or sales messaging was clear, compelling, and concise, but that’s very difficult to tech organizations to accomplish. I saw this problem over and over again, sometimes surprised, other times frustrated, but the problem was the same. I have a strange combination of technical skills and competence, but I also like people, presentations and effective communication. So… I saw an opportunity. I left corporate America, and started Perspectivity. A sales messaging and consulting firm that works primarily with technology companies. Our clients include AT&T, Cisco, and Citi, but we also work with many small businesses. Our 6-Step system is one that simplifies a rather complex process, clarifies complicated products or services, and increases revenue. VD: Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way? BW: A smooth road…. LOL! Said No Entrepreneur…EVER. Struggle #1: My first partnership was a disaster, just like the stories you’ve heard about not having partners or being VERY selective, that was me. It was a train wreck and I would advise anyone considering a partner, please read the Partnership Charter by David Gage. Save yourself the pain. I should have known I was in trouble when I recommended we both read this book and pay for their assessment, and he didn’t want to do either. Struggle #2: Once I survived that ordeal, I was off on my own, then later joined by the best business partner I could ever have, my wife! The business began to grow but my money management and tax planning skills didn’t. What a pain this was, having to do all accounting, invoicing, payroll, saving, taxes, 940, 941, W-2, FUTA, SUTA, what the what!! It was crazy. I now have two companies that do all of the above and more, and I love them for it! VD: Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Perspectivity Sales Consulting – what should we know? BW: We help technology companies grow revenue by clarifying their sales messaging by implementing our 6-Step system inside of their sales and/or marketing organization. We specialize in creating effective sales messaging, sales pitches, sales presentation, and effective sales conversations so your target market will Believe, Buy, and Bite (can explain later). We are known for our unique ability to understand technology at a deep level, and also understand sales and people at the same time. We then created a 6-Step system that makes you appear that you have the same set of skills, not just one or the other which is most typical. We are most proud of seeing clients go from struggling to succeeding. There is nothing more rewarding and more sad at the same time, because that means we’re done and have to leave them! What sets us apart. The power and simplicity of our 6-Step system and how much time we’ve spent on creating an online university, a book, and a process that is sensitive to the science of how adults learn and the psychology of how they make buying decisions. VD: Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role? BW: My biggest support, cheerleader, teammate and super smart business partner is my wife. She has skills that I don’t and we compliment each other well. She sees what I can’t see and has a very high emotional intelligence (EQ). She has this naturally but has also been trained and certified. She understands people and what makes them tick, and what shuts them down. So she is responsible for helping teams function more productively by understanding each other better. She also handles all Client Care. It’s her unique ability to hear and respond to their needs with precision that makes them feel loved and supported by our company. She also co-wrote our first book and at this point, she is a fully qualified CEO (Committed to Exceeding Obstacles) because she has gone through some tough times, but has always believed and supported, I owe her dearly and have a specific plan on how I will repay! ...

What Do Warren Buffett, Aluminum, Bottled Water, and Ernest Hemingway Have In Common?

What do Warren Buffet, aluminum, bottled water and Ernest Hemingway have in common? All 4 can teach us a powerful lesson in how to sharpen our communication skills. Lesson 1: Warren Buffett Prioritize Your Communication Skills   Warren Buffet said that the number one skill that any of us can have is effective communication skills. Why would he pick communication out of all the other skills? I ask you the exact same thing. As it relates to your plans and goals, where do effective communication skills rank on the scale of your priorities in your business? Think about your business presentations. Are you still opening your presentations by telling people what your company is and how great your products and services are? Are you still using Power Point? If so it might be time to take a look at your communication skills and the tools you use to communicate. ...

Crafting Audience Profiles For Your Sales Pitches

You’ve probably heard of “consumer profiles,” and while those can be incredibly helpful as well, the article and infographic below are about “audience profiles” When we make a presentation or sales pitch, we are conversing with an audience. What does this audience look like? That’s what we’re talking about here. Enjoy! There are few things more important to the sales messaging process than the creation of an audience profile. Though this is just one piece of the 6 step system, it is foundational to the overall message you’re crafting. You have to be clear who you’re speaking to in order to achieve your intended goals. Once created, it should be continuously updated to reflect the dynamics of the audience you will present to. I’ve identified 10 elements that should be considered in order to create each audience profile. To help you get started, check out our graphic below for 5 questions that will help you formulate 5 of the 10 key elements. How To Craft Audience Profiles   1. Define the Meeting Purpose Before conducting a meeting, it’s imperative to ask yourself why the meeting is being held. This will give you a clear understanding of your goals and purpose, thus making it easier for you to create a sales message that is hyper focused on the issues at hand. 2. Define Your Target Audience Who exactly would you like to attend this particular meeting? This is your target audience. Write down their names and send them an invitation with adequate time to commit. 3. Set the Date, Time and Location Though this step seems like a given, the thought that goes behind it is often overlooked. After defining your target audience, decide the best place to meet that will assist you in achieving your desired outcome. Your office may not always be the best place, so consider other possibilities. Do so by carefully considering the attendees and decide the most strategic place of operation. When choosing your venue, take the time to also decide a date and time that makes it easiest for them to attend. 4. Envision the Outcome It’s crucial to define your desired outcome long before the meeting or presentation takes place. Do you want those in attendance to schedule a follow up meeting? Agree to hire you? Decide to sign a contract? No matter what the end goal, consider in advance what you can do to specifically tailor your messaging around your desired result. Remember! Success is never accidental. 5. List Your Allies Think of those who will be in attendance and make a mental or physical list of who will most likely agree with the solution or ideas you will present. These are your allies. Make a point to speak with them before the meeting to ensure their buy-in. And while you present, make eye contact with them often. Positive feedback and support from your allies can be your best marketing campaign. Enjoy Success! The audience profile is an important tool to help clearly identify the prospect, their critical issues and concerns and who the decision makers are. Don’t forget! The decision makers need to be in the room. And remember, this is only the first step in designing an effective sales message. Using an audience profile, though, will keep you focused, prepared and ultimately, facilitate your success. By building profiles, your focus remains on the most important people in the room: your audience.   ...

The Art And Science Of Selling (Part 4)

When we are designing and honing our sales presentations, it’s easy to wind up with way more information than necessary. For the audience’s sake, we need to whittle away that which isn’t vital to the communication process, and then organize the stuff we decide to keep in a way that will hold the audience’s attention. Without further ado, here are a few “cinematic” tips for organizing a sales presentation. Organizing The “Scenes” Of Your Messaging Just like a good movie, a good presentation should have logical continuity. You can achieve this in your presentation by thinking of the components as “scenes,” and making sure your scenes flow logically (again… like in a movie). There should be a proper order that makes the most sense, so make sure you find it! Here are a few common examples of continuity that might provide the right structure for your presentation: Chronological Order – A timeline, essentially. First things first, last things last, etc. Climactic Order – Start with the smaller, less important details and save the most dramatic and important event for last. Problem/Solution Order – Build a case by giving a problem, then giving the solution. Rinse and repeat. Topical Order – Break your main topic down into smaller subtopics, tying each subtopic back to the main one. Logical Order – End each of your points with a transition that directly sets up the next one. Storyboarding & Transitions (also known as “Brain Candy”) Storyboarding Storyboarding was a tactic employed by Walt Disney Studios in the 30’s that remains in use today. It is a way to “preview” what the final product will look like before actually producing it. For a complex presentation, one with many points or topics that require structure and transitions, the clarity provided by a good storyboarding session will be well worth the time investment. Transitions Transitions are the glue that hold the “scenes” together. To neglect your transitions is to risk losing your audience to confusion or boredom. When designing transitions, think, “how can I connect Point A with Point B?” Here’s the basic structure for connecting your points with a transition: Point A: We have more than 3 critical bugs. Transition: For example… Point B: Voicemail only records for 12 seconds instead of 24. The transition (“For example…”) indicates to your audience that Point B is actually one of the bugs hinted at by Point A. It’s a subtle touch, but makes a huge difference to your audience if you are dropping a lot of information on them. Ask For Feedback Feedback is vitally important to fine-tuning your message over time. After a presentation, always ask your audience to tell you what they thought of it. If they were bored and started playing with their phone or tuned you out because certain points didn’t connect well, then you know your transitions could use some work. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it can also be a specific and powerful motivator for improving our sales messaging. Remember, confused prospects rarely buy. In these past four parts, we have been exploring the concepts that our six-step system has been built upon. In the next part of our series, we will dive right into the actual steps of The Ultimate Sales Messaging System. The six steps are divided into two overarching categories: Design and Delivery. Over the next several installments in this series, we’ll be breaking down the ABC’s and XYZ’s that will be instrumental in improving your sales messaging. Design Step 1: The Audience Profile Step 2: The Basic Building Block Step 3: The Content Storyboard Delivery Step 4: eXamine Your Content Step 5: Your Preparation Step 6: Zero In On Your Audience That is what’s to come in our series. We’re glad to be with you on your journey to mastering sales and becoming an excellent communicator. To review the first three parts of the series, click below: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 ...

A New Perspective On Sales Messaging [Infographic]

You may not know this about me, but I have a love of public speaking. While many people shy away from getting in front of a crowd and delivering a message, others are downright afraid of it. Not me. I enjoy speaking so much that I have done it competitively through Toastmasters. My guess is that if you are in sales you at least share my interest in communicating, even if you have not done it competitively. I Like IT. Beyond my interest in public speaking, I have another interest. I enjoy technology. In fact, I was an engineer in corporate America for two decades. While in that role, I made an observation about sales presentations. Some were successful and some failed. I wondered why. Failures sparked questions. I began looking critically at our sales presentations to learn what made them different. Why did some efforts as sales communications fall short? In addition to my critical analysis, I started asking for customer feedback when we failed to close a deal. The results from my analysis combined with their feedback was informative. No, it was astounding! Analysis brought answers. I concluded the presentations used by the sales team failed because they did not effectively address the customers’ questions of how our product would make them more money or how our product would help eliminate their biggest problem. I also observed that our presentations were not clear. They were not concise. They were not engaging nor were they interactive. In fact, the traditional slide deck presentations were overwhelming our customers with too much information. Too many details and too much data about the technology was presented while not giving them the real information they were longing to hear. We changed our perspective. So I developed a system to help communicate the sales message in a way that would connect with the customers’ needs, and give the customers an opportunity to be involved in learning how our product would help them increase revenue and/or eliminate their biggest problem. The following infographic highlights some of the ways a traditional presentation, like the ones our team used, can fail, and how a new perspective on sales messaging can help to transform a presentation into an effective tool that brings results. (Click to enlarge the infographic.) Giving customers what they want. The new perspective I gained on how to deliver a successful sales message became abundantly clear. Customers who listened to the presentations did not want many details that would bog them down; they wanted solutions to their problems. They wanted to know how to make more money at the end of the day so their businesses would grow. They wanted sales reps who could make the material simple and easy to understand, and who were equipped with the knowledge to answer their questions. I have seen this system work again and again. Traditional communication methods that rely primarily on overfilled slide decks can cause your listeners’ eyes to glaze and their minds to wander. Those communication styles fall short of telling the audience what they really want to know. Instead, put this new systematic approach into practice. Change your perspective from what you have to tell the customer to what the customer needs to learn. Then, customize the learning to specifically address their issues and objectives. It’s not complicated, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s simplified, interactive, and… it works. ...

Start it Right: How To Build A Sales Presentation

Every sales message has the intent of being successful by driving your audience to action. However, not all sales messages achieve this goal. I have found that in order to be truly exceptional, it is critical that your sales message starts the right way, with the proper cornerstone in place. It’s about knowing how to build a sales presentation. To be exceptional, you must use a well-designed communication principle that builds upon a firm, audience-centric foundation. As an example, let me quote from an article by The Hartford that gives sales guidance to business owners. In the “Business Owner’s Playbook,” The Hartford communicates a familiar message for sales: Identify the problem. Appeal to your audience’s emotions, and get them thinking that they really need to find a solution to this problem. This builds trust, and shows that you “get it.” Present the solution. Introduce and describe your product or service and touch on why it solves the problem. Demonstrate value. Go into more detail on how your product or service solves the problem. Use research results, statistics, awards, testimonials, and specific examples to build your case. State a call to action. The call to action is probably the single most defining feature of direct response marketing. It clearly tells the customer what you expect them to do next. Give them the tools and contact points, such as a phone number, email address, shopping cart link, or website link depending on the action you want them to take. This sales message is good. It is not exceptional. We can identify an opportunity to take a good sales message and transform it into one that is clear, concise, and compelling. The transformation begins at the most basic, foundational level. It begins with laying the appropriate audience-centric cornerstone as mentioned above. This critical piece is missing in The Hartford example. Once in place, the cornerstone will be built provide support for a more cohesive and compelling message that makes a stronger impact on the audience. Understanding the Cornerstone Concept The cornerstone of your sales message must be intensely focused on your audience. It must hone in on his primary goal or objective. Many times, the goal is confused and out of order. Instead of being in-tune with the goal of the audience, the message is more in-tune with the goal of our own company — “to get the audience to buy our product.” That is the wrong order. The most effective sales message keeps the the goal of the audience first and the goal of our own company as a natural second. The goal and objective of your audience is specific to him, and it is almost always ultimately to increase revenue or reduce overhead. Key Point – In crafting the cornerstone of your sales message: Listen carefully to your audience. Learn what he desires. Refer to it often. Once the cornerstone is in place, the building blocks of your sales message will support and remind the audience that you understand his goal, recognize his problem, and have the best solution to reach his goal. The building blocks will look more like this: Cornerstone Goal – State your audience’s objective or desired outcome Pain Points – Acknowledge your understanding of his problem Solution – Demonstrate how and why your company provides the best solution to overcome his problem and achieve his goal (referring back to points one and two) Supporting Arguments – Present data and statistics to underscore the credibility of your company’s solution. Present facts in a simple, visual way that is easy for him to understand. Closing Arguments – Stay focused on the audience’s goal and clearly communicate what you want your audience to do after hearing your message. Resist the temptation to give him more information than he needs to make an informed decision. If you remember that your audience is king, they will respect you for it, and your sales message will be exceptional. Sales Message: Start Right with the Cornerstone ...

The Art And Science Of Selling (Part 3)

Welcome to the third part of our series, breaking down the lessons from The Ultimate Sales Messaging System. This system is designed to teach exceptional communication skills to improve selling technique. It encompasses both the art and science behind crafting the perfect sales pitch. Enjoy! In Part 1, we discussed the basics of effective sales messaging, including focusing on what your audience needs, fixing common communication issues, and understanding the adult learning process. In Part 2, we discussed the idea of filtering out excess information, not oversharing with your audience, and making your message “sticky.” And now, here are four things to keep in mind as you incorporate visual aids into your presentations. Read on, for Part 3 awaits… 1. Common Questions About Using Visuals (Sometimes Referred To As “Slides”) Question: Do I need to use visuals? Answer: It depends on what you’re presenting. Never assume that you must use visuals. They should only be used if they add real value, not decoration. Question: When should I use visuals? Answer: When you can easily replace one hundred words, or excessive facts or data, with an image or graphic, then you should use them. Question: What is the purpose of visuals? Answer: Visuals should reduce complexity, increase understanding, and decrease the audience’s short-term memory workload. If your visuals do that, you should use them. 2. A Few Wise Words “Communication is about getting others to adopt your point of view, to help them understand why you’re excited (or sad, or optimistic, or whatever else you are). If all you want to do is create a file of facts and figures, then cancel the meeting and send in a report!” -Seth Godin “True presentations focus on the presenter and the visionary ideas and concepts they want to communicate. The images (slides) reinforce the content visually rather than create distraction, allowing the audience to comfortably focus on both. It takes an investment of time on the part of the presenter to develop and rehearse this type of content, but the results are worth it.” -Nancy Duarte In summary, presentations should be about conveying the emotion behind an idea that a simple report cannot. It is this deeper connection, beyond mere facts, that makes presentations worth the time to design and deliver. 3. The Four Principles Of Visual Communication 1. Simplicity Your visuals should simplify what was formerly complex. If the visual itself needs explaining to be understood, then it does not have simplicity. 2. Elegance Effective visuals should be appealing to the eye, with color, contrast, and spatial balance. Remember, when you have too much going on in a visual, you can confuse the viewer. 3. Focus The purpose of the visual should be clear. Keep this in mind, and don’t forget about techniques such as highlighting the most important part or blurring out the less important parts. 4. Clarity The visual should be easy to comprehend in 5 seconds or less. Otherwise, it’s too complex. 4. Drop The Crutch! This is what visuals SHOULD NOT be: 1. A Guide. You should be the one to confidently guide your audience through your presentation; you are the expert, after all. Depending on a slideshow can bore an audience. Don’t undermine your message! 2. A Substitute For Good Content. Rich content should be your driving force. Visuals can be a supplement, but they do not replace the meat and potatoes that actually speak to the concerns and issues of your audience. 3. Loaded With Text. Keep it clear, concise, and compelling. Allow them to listen rather than forcing them to read. 4. Complex. Don’t distract or confuse your audience by over-communicating. Find the approach that simply cuts straight to the core of your message to make it as simple as possible for the audience to understand. Remember, confused prospects rarely buy.   Stay tuned to our blog, as we will continue to break down the lessons from The Ultimate Sales Messaging System in future installments. If you want the whole thing, and you just gotta have it now, please check out our online webinar. The Ultimate Sales Messaging System was created by Brian Williams, of Perspectivity Intl. Perspectivity is a sales growth agency, established in 2012, and is the product of more than 20 years of experience with global tech giants. ...