harlan-kirschner-lThere are many steps to making a perfect sales presentation and I suggest every sales professional develop a key combination that works for them. Through experience, I firmly believe it is important to start with a solid foundation before assembling that winning combination. A foundation built on INTENT. Is your intent to build a “win-win” business solution?  Is your intent to provide a successful outcome for your customer?  Is your intent to build a trusting business partnership?  Starting with genuine intent will drive your actions and will build a trusting relationship with your customer.

Once your foundation of INTENT is firmly in place, the first step I recommend is to understand, in great depth, your product and your industry. Be a constant student. Buyers expect you to be the expert. Be aware and be prepared. Plus, your value increases if you can be a source of applicable business information and knowledge. First, know your product/brand. Secondly, know what is going on in the industry e.g., business and product trends and successes. Strive to be an “adviser,” someone important to know because of the value of your knowledge. Always possess information that will benefit your customer.

The second step is to know your customer. It is only possible to come up with a winning solution if you thoroughly understand your buyer’s company, business model and goals. Ask smart questions which will uncover your buyer’s business needs. Be an active listener. Ask for clarification when in doubt and repeat what the buyer is telling you to gain complete understanding and alignment. By asking the right questions, you can navigate to right solution and move your client to make the right choice.

Equally important to understanding your customer is connecting with your buyer on a personal level. We are all human and most sales professionals have a genuine interest in people. Show your interest by getting to know them as well as their business. Ask your buyer questions about themselves…their travel experiences, hobbies and other interests. Get to know their traits, likes and dislikes. For example, if your buyer is obviously not a morning person, avoid booking your meetings too early. If business casual dress is embraced, you may want to do the same when you visit. You may choose to pass on a recent book review to avid readers, etc. This personal connection builds trust as you show your buyer you are interested in them, not just an order. Most importantly, be genuine.

The third step is making the “product vs need” connection. You have done your homework. You are well versed about your product, your industry and your customer. It is time to establish how your product or brand benefits your customer?  How will it help them support their business plan, reach their goals and meet the needs they articulated?  Make the connection for your customer. Uncover the opportunity and find the solution your buyer is looking for. Base your recommendations on your learning and present your buyer business ideas based on trends and facts. Deliver them exactly what they are looking for.

The fourth step is to facilitate the solution. Make it easy for your buyer to say “yes.”  Have an implementation plan with your role clearly defined. Utilize the knowledge you gleaned from your buyer. Do they need help setting up SKUs in their system?  Do they need marketing support?   Have an answer and a plan for every potential impediment or obstacle. Develop a 360 degree approach to selling in and through. This approach may include using tactics such as offering advertising support, timing and terms, or other incentives. Make sure your solution does not create work for your buyer, but rather is a complete package that helps them to move ahead swiftly and easily.

The last step to a perfect sales presentation is to follow up and follow through. Document your conversation, your agreements and your next steps. It is the responsibility of the sales professional to make sure everyone has the same expectations and understanding and is on the same page. Take responsibility for making sure your agreements and next steps happen. Partner with your buyer and give them support all the way through the transaction, which will build upon the trust you seeded at the beginning of the “perfect sales presentation” process. Communicate what you will do for them and when. Simply put, say what you will do and do what you say (and then some!).

Wishing all of my fellow industry colleagues’ success as we all work together to strengthen our industry.

Harlan Kirschner is the CEO and owner of The Kirschner Group, Inc., a worldwide, sales and merchandising organization that has represented manufacturers in the professional hair, skin and nail industry for over 30 years.  The Kirschner Group, Inc. is the largest and only global professional sales company in the salon industry.  Harlan has been an active supporter of the industry, dedicating his time and energy to many industry organizations.  He serves as a board member of the Professional Beauty Association, Chairman of the PBA Manufacturer leadership council, Treasurer of the Western Buying Conference committee, 2014 City of Hope Beauty Industry Honoree, Chairman of the 2015 City Of Hope Beauty Industry Campaign and member of Eastern Buying Conference committee. For more information, visit wwww.kirschnergroup.com.

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