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Giving Champion Presentations Follow these tips to make all your presentations and demonstrations winners.

By Tom Hopkins

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Editor's note: This article is excerpted from How to Master the Art of Sellingfrom WarnerBooks.

The fun part of selling for most people is the demonstration orpresentation of the product or service. This is where you get toengage your prospective client in all the wonderful things it cando for them.

Unfortunately, too many salespeople spend way too much time onthis part of the selling cycle. They insist on demonstrating everyfeature--especially features that are fun for them. However, thosefeatures may not be of interest to the client at all. That'swhen sales are lost. Clients realize you're not listening. Youdon't really understand what they want and need and they'llshop elsewhere as soon as you take a breath in your monologue.

It's more wise to invest the bulk of your time in qualifyingand determining the needs of the client than in demonstratingsomething that might turn them off--even if it is the coolestfeature on the planet.

As important as demonstrating your product is (and it's veryimportant), if you do it with the wrong people because youdidn't qualify properly, it's all for nothing.

If you're going to get your points across to your potentialclient, you have to follow these steps:

  1. Tell them what you're going to tell them. This isyour introduction.
  2. Tell them what you're there to tell them. This isyour presentation.
  3. Tell them what you just told them. This is yoursummary.

That's the outline of all successful speeches, presentationsand demonstrations. In other words, we use repetition. We don'tsay exactly the same thing three times, of course. In the firstfive minutes, we're introducing our new ideas. In the secondten minutes, we're covering our points in depth and relatingthem to our listeners' interests and needs. In the last twominutes, we're drawing conclusions from our points andindicating the direction that things should take.

Champions never tire of phrases that work, strategies that sell,and ideas that make sense to their buyers and money for them.Champions discard things in their presentations when they stopworking, and not before. And Champions never forget thatthey're working with people who don't know their specialtyas well as they do: They're always courteous and deferentialabout their superior knowledge in the narrow area of theirexpertise. So Champions work happily with lines they've said10,000 times. They are forever finding slight variations ofphrasing and timing that enhance their effectiveness. They revel inthe fact that they know their lines so well that they don'thave to think about them, but can concentrate wholly on theircustomers and the unique aspects of the situation they'reworking with at the moment. There's no question about it, oneof the keys to the Champion's greater skill at presenting ordemonstrating lies in the ability and willingness to use repetitioneffectively to reinforce every point. The Champion doesn't mindrepeating the sales points because they lead to repeated sales tothe same type of clientele.

So think in terms of tell, tell, tell.

While you're telling, you must keep your clients mentallyand physically involved in the presentation. How? By askinginvolvement questions that will keep them thinking about howthey'll use your offering once they own it. Pay attention tothe answers; nothing destroys rapport like asking the same questiontwice.

Give him simple things to do. Let him figure something out orrun the machine you're demonstrating. Have your client takesomething from you. Don't ask, "Would you please holdthis?" because the client may say he doesn't want to. Sayjust one word: "Here." The client's automatic reflexwill cause him to take whatever you hand him, and then he'sinvolved.

Once they have it (the remote control for the machine you'redemonstrating, a copy of your proposal, the owner's manual,whatever will help you most), the process of emotional involvementin your offering is well under way.

Now, you have 17 minutes to wrap it up. You may smile withdisbelief, but hear me out. Regardless of what your product orservice is, when you get to the nitty-gritty, cut through it inless than that limit. You can do it if you'll rigorously chopoff unnecessary detail, if you'll streamline what you have tosay, if you'll eliminate anything you're not positive iscontributing to the close.

To become a Champion, you have to polish your performance andpractice it against the clock until you can do an effectivepresentation or demonstration within the seventeen minute limit ofmaximum client concentration. It may be a stiff challenge, butmeeting it will do wonders for your closing ability. You'llkeep their attention and find that most people will make decisionsquicker because they were able to stay focused on everything youdid and said in that concise presentation.

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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