How to Multiply Your Effectiveness

Learn how to vary your presentations to get the most from your sales efforts.

By Tom Hopkins

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Think for a moment of your last sales presentation. What wasyour mood? How did you deliver the information? Did you have funwith it? Were you matter-of-fact? Or did you do it by reflex suchthat you can't recall?

Many of us have just one sales message. Because it workssuccessfully with some of our prospects, we overlook the fact thatour single message falls flat with the rest of them.

One of the most dangerous things that can happen to anyoneselling a product or service is to become bored with thepresentation of it. If you're bored-and you'll probablysound that way if you feel that way-why would anyone else want tohear it? You must always remember that even if you've given thesame presentation 10, 100 or 100,000 times, it's very likelythe first time your potential client is hearing it. So you have tomake it a memorable one.

Let's suppose your basic presentation takes about fiveminutes. Of course, you vary it slightly to fit each prospect'ssituation but basically, you give the same presentation in the sameway to everyone you're talking to. The style you always usemight be described as brisk, businesslike and pleasant.

That's good. You've chosen a style that's effectivebetween 30 and 60 percent of the time (effective in the sense thatit will allow you to make the sale, if everything else is right).Now let's go after the other 40 to 70 percent who are turnedoff by brisk, businesslike and pleasant types with their cheerfulsmiles.

"Wait a minute," you might be thinking at this point."Wild-eyed funny folks don't buy my product."

Maybe so, but some of your prospects have been talking to brisk,businesslike and pleasant types for so many years, they've gotcombat fatigue. They feel like shooting themselves in the footevery time they meet another salesperson exuding the standard salesmanner. They send signals, hoping you'll recognize them andchange your tune, but very few salespeople pick up on them.

While it's true that the average salesperson has hissignal-receiving antenna raised every time he goes in for any kindof a sales interview, he doesn't hear much besides staticbecause he's usually thinking too intently about himself andwhat he's going to say next. So he misses the message, plodsdoggedly ahead with his standard presentation and soon is sayinghis farewells without landing the order.

Champion salespeople also have their antenna up. But messagescome through loud and clear because they're giving all theirattention to the prospect. They know what they're there to saymuch too well to give any thought to it when face-to-face withopportunity. In fact, champions have three versions of whatthey're there to say ready for their prospects. Having theirminds clear, these salespeople can easily read each potentialclient's message, go with the version of the presentation thatbest fits this prospect's attitude, and will soon have theorder.

Be a champion! Design and practice three variations of everyaspect of your presentation. You may be varying your approach tosome degree now, but you'll enormously increase your ability tofit your words and actions to each prospect if you'llconsciously work at creating triple-headed responses.

One phrasing might be slangy or homespun, another might be loftyor long-worded, and one should be clearly stated in standardEnglish. Each phrasing can be said fast, at medium speed or slowly.You can speak softly, in normal tones or loudly. Your attitude canbe subdued, friendly or direct. That's 81 variations on asingle answer to an objection (3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 81).

How you say what you have to say provides another greatopportunity to gain sales power by allowing you to instantly adaptto any situation. To accomplish this, develop these three moods ofdelivery:

1. Light. You can be easy without being careless, and youcan be funny without getting hooked on it. I've knownsalespeople who'd rather get a laugh than make a sale. Do someof your laughing on the way to the bank by using humor in salessituations to further sales, not to amuse yourself. Cultivate arelaxed approach that'll ease you into a closing position withyour more informal prospects who can't stand the all-businessattitude.

2. Medium. A cordial, alert, matter-of-fact stance givesyou the safest start with old customers who have fickletemperaments and with new prospects you don't know wellyet.

3. Heavy. Be prepared to talk fast and concisely inhigh-pressure situations. Nothing works well here except the factsdelivered in short, crisp sentences. No jokes, no flowery phrases,no confusing technicalities. Practice this one hard, and you'llbe surprised how often you'll use it-and delighted how oftenyou'll win with it.

Train yourself to think in terms of three: three routes to everytreasure, three solutions for every problem, three chances at everyopportunity. Do this and you can't fail to multiply youreffectiveness, reduce your frustrations and expand your income.

Tom Hopkins

Tom Hopkins is world-renowned as "the builder of sales champions." For the past 30 years, he's provided superior sales training through his company, Tom Hopkins International.

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