Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Excellence in presentation skills will increase sales

Listening to an educational programme today I was impressed by the excellent presentation skills of the teacher and his ability to engage the audience. He drew them into his story that had them making a purchase without a second thought.

This wasn't manipulative techniques or a crude sales pitch. It was simply a strategic process of building rapport with the audience and creating the space for them to make an informed buying decision that met all their needs.

The presenter used his great ability in telling a story to hold the state of the audience in a way that had them relate to it [the story] as if they were playing the starring role.

Why was it so enthralling?

1. He built rapport - The teacher engaged the audience from the start. He used his skills to have the audience listen attentively and with anticipation.

2. He managed their state - If you want the audience to get excited, you need to be excited yourself. If you want the audience to be inquisitive you must stir their imagination so that they are curious and eager to know more.

3. He told a story - By using a story, a tale that the audience could relate to, he drew them in. They were able to see themselves within the story and began to make internal connections that resulted in the natural next step of needing to buy.

People buy from those they know, like and trust.

When you create the space for this trust, from a position of the buyer, rather than a seller, the relationship becomes such that people actively seek out the purchasing opportunity knowing that you will be helping them "solve their problem" or "providing the solution". Buying becomes easy for them.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Speaking with power to create sales

Everyone of us has to speak in public to "sell" something. It may be how you earn your living such as a business development role or sales representative, or that you have an idea, a suggestion or proposal that you want someone to "buy in to". It could be that you simply want your spouse, partner, child or friend to agree to something you would like them to do, but in any event you are selling a concept, an idea - you are looking for agreement.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Make Money Through Networking - Pt 2

To make money through networking we've already said you have to get in the game. The next part becomes easier as you practice.

You can't learn to swim by reading a book about swimming, you have to get in the water. So practice is the key.

4. Listen carefully - Once you have started asking questions, it's equally important to listen to the answers. This might seem obvious but you would be surprised how many people have perfected the art of asking questions but have no clue about listening and therefore miss all the important information they might find useful later.

5. Look for ways to help - The worst thing you can do is to try selling to someone at a networking event, and this is the biggest mistake the novice makes. They start talking with someone who shows interest in them and they get so excited they think they have to do a deal there and then.

Instead, ask how you might help the person you have just met. Who do they want to meet or need to talk to? Ask what sorts of clients they are looking for right now and if you have the opportunity to introduce them, go for it.

People will always remember those who have helped them first. If you find you are in a position to help someone in business, with no other agenda, it will come back to you time and time again.

The most successful networkers who are making money through networking are those who ask questions, listen carefully and provide help to the people they meet, whenever they can.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Making money through networking - Pt 1

There are two sides to every argument and the debate about networking, and its benefits, is no different.

It is said that your net worth is directly proportionate to the size of your network, or it's not what you know, it's who you know that is important.

Some people avoid networking because they feel it involves speaking in public and this terrifies them. Others see it as being time consuming and unproductive.

Networking though, is proven to help you make money and there is no doubt that it works, if you are prepared to work at it. There are some simple steps you can take that will help you make money through networking:

1. Just get in the game - dive in and attend something, anything, and get a feel for how it works. The biggest factor that stops people creating success in anything is fear, and fear is just False Expectations Appearing Real. It's your imagination telling you that something bad is going to happen and you can not possibly know that your imagined expectation is true.

2. Smile and introduce yourself - Just say hi. Shake hands and if you're not sure what to say start by asking if they attend many networking events. Sharing your experiences of networking, or your fears, is a great way to break the ice.

3. Ask questions - By asking questions you show the other person that you are genuinely interested in them. People want others to care so ask questions such as how they got into business, what sorts of clients do they work with, how do they help their customers, how many staff do they have, where are they located, and so on.

The key to successful networking and therefore making money in the process is simply to feel the fear and get in the game. Everyone starts at the beginning and the best way to get going is to take the first step.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Great Public Speaking

Speaking in public can be the most traumatic experience for some people. It is said that many fear having to stand up in front of others to talk, more than they do death itself.

I haven't yet met someone who would prefer to die than present their ideas to someone else, either in a group situation or one-on-one however.

The biggest challenge people face is in fact the "story" they tell themselves about the possible outcome of their speech or presentation. It's the self-talk that causes the problems.

One of the easiest techniques you can adopt in these circumstances, to be great speaking in public, is to prepare yourself before you start. I'm not talking about preparing the material, although that is important of course, or rehearsing the delivery. No, what I'm saying is that it is essential to mentally prepare and get into the "state" of being able to deliver the material just how you would like it to be done in the best possible way.

All one needs to do is take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, remember a time when you felt really confident, happy, excited and on top of your game - and get back into that experience as much as you can.

Breathe in the positive feelings of that memory, see what you saw back then, hear the sounds around you, notice the feelings within yourself and play back the things you said to yourself.

As you get back into the experience, breathe deeply and hold each breath as you make the colours and shapes of the memory sharper and more vivid, turn up the volume and the clarity of the sounds around you and expand the positive feelings inside.

Hold onto these sensations as you visualise your impending audience listening attentively, spellbound by what you have to say, inspired by your message and ready to take action as you conclude. Enjoy your imagination predicting a successful outcome to your talk and allow yourself to be excited by the possibilities unfolding now.

The first time you do this, spend some time on it and really enjoy the process. With a little practice over time, you will be able to recreate the experience in an instant and be great public speaking every time.


Saturday, 7 February 2009

Instant sales

I was honoured to be invited to judge a Young Enterprise trade fair today in Belfast. Young people from local schools set up real businesses and then trade through the academic year. As well as attempting to make money as a business, the purpose of the initiative is to learn what it is like to run a business and experience all the challenges that go with it.

Of course one of the biggest challenges is to get sales and I was impressed by the enthusiasm and efforts the young people made to encourage the public to get involved in what they were selling. Some had dressed up in constume to attract attention, others were meeting and greeting people at the entrance to the shopping centre with a big smile and a catchy welcome. Others waited for the public to pass by their stands, attractively decorated with their products and sales message.

Many of the youngsters had the natural touch for engaging you in conversation and very obvious pride in their product. They had belief and knowledge that is often missing in the everyday business world. How often do we come across people selling their wares who appear to be just going through the motions and have no passion for what they do? This was not the case here.

The key to selling anything is to make a great first impression and demonstrate passion and knowledge around your subject. People need a reason to buy and these young entrepreneurs were providing that reason. My wife walked away with several purchases from some of the stands, with a very real intention to use the products which met her needs and solved a problem. This is essential in any sales conversaton.

The consumer only buys for two reasons: a) to solve a problem, or b) to provide a means of achieving a dream. The majority of the stands in the trade fair did exactly what they needed to do to create instant sales. They created a great first impression, delivered their message with passion, listened to their customers and provided a solution to their problem at a price that reflected value for money.

By delivering on all these fronts, they did not need to sell, they simply provided the customer with a compelling reason to buy. That's the only way to sell - do it from a buyer's perspective.

If you need to increase your sales by selling from a buyer's perspective - check out our next event.