Be sure to focus your presentation – but only after you spend a considerable amount of time on the fact-finding and consultative selling components of the sales process. Thorough research and questioning should give you an idea of your prospect’s logistic problems and the solutions you can provide. Tailor your presentation to suit each individual company and focus your presentation on the benefits—not features, that you can offer. Before making the presentation ask yourself: what kind of presentation will convince the prospect to buy (analytical? logical? emotional?), then model your presentation to match them.
Know your audience. Take the time to make sure that all the important decision-makers are in attendance. When possible, be sure to include the traffic manager, purchasing manager, maintenance supervisor, VP of sales, and anybody else involved in the final decision. Include the CEO or President of the company whenever possible. Be sure you know their level of expertise about the transportation industry, your company, and their company’s shipping needs. This allows you to use terminology appropriate to the attendees’ knowledge of the transportation industry.
If you’re using printed presentation materials, make sure you have a packet or folder for everyone who will be in attendance. A printed packet can be very helpful as a selling device because it gives some tangible representation of the intangible services you are selling.
Even in your sales presentation you must remember to be a good listener. Being a good listener generates confidence and demonstrates sincerity in your desire to understand the prospect’s needs. During the fact-finding session, let the prospect talk as long as they want. It’s simply a matter of respect for the other person to let him have his say. Unfortunately, too many transportation salespeople forget to extend this basic courtesy during their sales presentation. Listening can’t be emphasized enough.
Most salespeople who are successful in our industry are strong supporters of concept selling. Consequently, each devotes a major portion of their presentation to securing agreement on the need that their particular transportation solution fills before specifically focusing on the nuts and bolts of how they move the prospect’s freight. We sell an intangible service, so we can’t actually give a demonstration (you can’t physically take the prospect along with their shipment on a truck from their dock to the consignees dock – you can only describe what happens). The product we sell is nothing more than a promise – a commitment to the customer to move his or her freight when we said we would, at a reasonable price, with no damage.
Psychologically, the most memorable parts of sales presentations are the beginning and the end, so they deserve special attention. Engage the prospect from the beginning and get to the point quickly with an imaginative opening that showcases the most important benefits of using your services. Use your conclusion to summarize the key points of your presentation. As you plan it, ask yourself what lasting impressions you want to leave your prospect with when you finish.
“It’s not your customer’s job to remember you. It’s your responsibility to make sure they don’t forget you.”
– Patricia Fripp
Practice, practice, practice. Increase your odds of closing more sales by practicing your presentations. After you’ve made sales presentations, they become practice sessions for presentations you’ll give in the future.
Collect the ideas you’d like to suggest or selling points you want to make; then organize them according to your purpose and the needs of your prospect. Give your words greater credibility by backing them up with data or testimonials. Keep your words as simple and direct as possible; use active, not passive language; and vary your tone, volume and pitch to keep the prospect interested. Illustrate your words with examples and interesting stories to add color to your presentation.
Make sure the prospect realizes that you’re an expert. When you demonstrate how much you know about your industry, you’ll gain the respect of your customers and prospects. When people believe they’re dealing with an expert it’s a lot easier to close the sale. Most customers want you to advise them. When they realize that you have a great knowledge of the transportation industry and of available carriers, then they’re happy to let you take control. You become their consultant. It’s when a salesperson doesn’t know as much about the transportation industry as his or her prospect that people resent a strong sales presentation. However, there’s no doubt that traffic and purchasing people are better informed today than they’ve ever been.
The best way to make a compelling sales presentation is by demonstrating that you’re an expert in your business as well as his. When you exemplify excellence in your sales presentation, the customer is eager to find out what you can do to offer solutions to his or her particular transportation problems.
To make the best presentation possible, you must have conviction in the services you’re there to sell. A customer instinctively knows whether you believe in your service. If you do, they in turn will believe in you. Only then can you make a sales presentation that turns into a sale every time.