Behind the Magic

Quick Presentations, Surpassing Quotas and More

How to meet a prospect in person
This is your big chance to make an impression. Don't have your cell phone and your pager on, and don't have anything in your notebook that doesn't have to do with that customer. Ask follow-up questions, clarify that you understand what they're saying, and give them feedback that you're listening. You don't want an hour to go by where [the prospect] didn't feel it was valuable spending time with you.--Seleste Lunsford, co-author of Strategies That Win Sales: Best Practices of the World's Leading Organizations

How to give a great sales presentation in five minutes or less
Whether you have six minutes or 60 minutes to make a presentation, always organize your content, adapt to the moment, and dialogue with your audience. Reveal your core statement early and clearly, and support it with no more than three main points. If pressed for time, leave anecdotes and stories on the sidelines.--Bob Lipp, president of Better Business Presentations, a Great Neck, New York, firm that helps executives improve their presentation and public speaking skills

How to surpass a sales quota
People sit back and relax when they've made their quota. But that's when you really pour it on. At 5 o'clock, make 15 more calls. When you have a lot of business coming in and you're doing well, that's the best time to make calls to surpass your quota. Your actions are much more powerful when you're doing well than when you're trying to get started.--Barry Farber, Entrepreneur's "Sales Success" columnist and president of Farber Training Systems, a Livingston, New Jersey, sales management and motivational company

How to schedule your week most effectively
Every weeknight I would complete my Day-Timer with contacts I needed to make and proposals I needed to present the next day. I always had a complete plan written down. Map out your sales calls so you minimize drive time. Log all details about each appointment, tracking all steps of the sale until it's closed. This prevents redoing or forgetting scheduled items and will keep your day on task.--Henry A. Penix, author of Unwrap Your Gift and a former salesperson who ranked in the upper 2 percent of all salespeople for The Pitney Bowes Corp.

How to create customer loyalty
The hardest thing is getting somebody to trust you. After you build a relationship, the trust comes. Going the extra mile, being a good communicator, letting them know if there are problems--that makes people feel good. Be consistent. Do what you say you're going to do. When I see a parent with one child bring a second child to me, that's when I know I've created customer loyalty.--Kara Vample Turner, president and CEO of 7-year-old Primary Colors Daycare Center in Durham, North Carolina

How to relate better to your prospect
Ninety-five percent of what's sold in the world isn't an end unto itself, it's a means to an end. Nobody wants to buy computers; what they want is the ability to transfer information more quickly and accurately so groups can work together better, so they can put products out to market faster, so they can capture more market share. What does the client want to achieve? When you ask that question, it changes everything.--Bill Stinnett, author of Think Like Your Customer and president of Sales Excellence Inc., an Evergreen, Colorado, sales training and consulting firm

How to follow up with a prospect
I learned the importance of follow-up early on. I probably lost several projects because I was shy. [Now], we look for reasons to call back. If we get a sense of what they want, we'll sketch something, call them and try to get them back in. If you don't care enough to [take the initiative and] call, I can't imagine people wanting you to build their dream home.--Lambert Arceneaux, owner of Allegro Builders, an 8-year-old Houston home builder with eight employees and projections of $12 million in sales for 2005

How to reduce the sales cycle
There is little magic to this, but a lot of work. Reps are loath to ask tough questions. [Does the prospect] have a committed budget? What's the process for releasing funds, and who has final authority to do so? What is the event driving this initiative? [If you] want to reduce the sales cycle, target prospects better, and qualify them rigorously.--Barry Trailer, partner with CSO Insights, a Corte Madera, California, sales effectiveness research and benchmarking firm

How to increase market share
To truly grow market share, a company must not only increase overall revenues but must also increase new customer acquisition rates and average deal sizes. The 2005 "Miller Heiman Sales Effectiveness" study revealed that less than 5 percent of companies accomplished this goal. The interesting thing about the winning companies is commonality in the key strategies they pursued. Most of their new product initiatives were aimed at providing additional value to their current clients rather than trying to create new markets. These top companies also had a much more evolved process of sharing best practices; they understand the benefit of quickly communicating and implementing successful strategies. --Sam Reese, CEO of sales consulting and training firm Miller Heiman in Reno, Nevada

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Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog,

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This article was originally published in the August 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Behind the Magic.

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