QUESTION: I am an extremely organized person and take the time to develop a compelling sales presentation. However, my success rate leaves much to be desired. What am I missing?

ANSWER: To begin, no matter how compelling your presentation, if it isn’t being delivered to the decision maker, you are wasting your time. Make sure you are talking to the right person.

Recognize that your prospect probably already has a relationship with someone else. Your job is to know your competition and convince your customer what you have to offer is better. Be careful to not belittle the competitor as this will only make you look unprofessional.

Research your client’s business in advance of the sales call and determine how what you have to offer can satisfy and unfulfilled need. This is the best way to differentiate you from the competition.

Avoid high pressure tactics or a canned sales pitch. These will turn off most people. Instead engage them with casual conversation before getting down to business. You want your customer to feel comfortable and get to know you as a person.

Once you have developed a comfort level with your prospect, lead with a series of questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Here are a few to start with:

  • Do you feel your production costs are too high?
  • Are you meeting or exceeding your sales goals?
  • If not, what do you think you need to do to change the dynamic?
  • If there is one thing you could change in your current relationships, what would it be?

The answers to these questions will then give you the information you need to determine if you have the solutions. If it makes good business sense to change, they will do so. However never, ever fail to ask for the sale.

Once the sale is consummated be sure to keep your promises. Finish what you start, follow up when you say you will, meet deadlines, and ensure that the solutions you have provided meet your customer’s expectations.

All successful relationships are based on mutual trust. A satisfied customer will always be your best advertisement. They will stay with you and can be a valuable referral resource.

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Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. Business counseling on this and other business matters is available, without charge, from the Naples Chapter of SCORE. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit https://naples.score.org/content/find-mentor-165 The SCORE business office is located at 900 Goodlette Road North, in the Fifth Third branch bank building. Office hours are 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.