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Show and tell

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One of the most critical yet overlooked principles in the selling process is the power of self-discovery through customer involvement. Regrettably, many salespeople use a “show and tell” presentation style and babble on, hoping they might say something that generates a sale. When you show or tell your prospect about your product or service, the prospect has a tendency to doubt the information and mentally disengage from your presentation. On the other hand, when prospects participate in the selling process and are guided to discover a feature or benefit on their own, they are inclined to believe it.

Car salesmen truly understand the value of self-discovery and prospect participation. They’ll be the first to tell you it’s the actual smell of the leather and the hands-on-the-wheel experience of the test-drive that sells the car, not the colorful brochure full of options and features. Obviously, not every product or service lends itself to a hands-on demonstration; however, there are always ways to increase prospect involvement. Any time there is a choice between whether you or your prospect should so something – let he or she do it.

For example, if you have numbers to crunch, hand the prospect the calculator and let he or she work the numbers. When it’s time to demonstrate the benefits and features of the product, don’t just show them; find creative ways to keep the prospect actively engaged during the entire selling process.

Recently, I heard an interesting story about a successful glass salesman named Bill Johnson. Bill was the top producer in his company and consistently outsold the other salespeople by a significant margin. After Bill set a new quarterly sales record, the company president called to congratulate him on his achievement. When asked what he felt was the secret of his success, Bill replied that he had recently added a minor change to his sales presentation that was making a major difference in his results.

Bill said during his presentation he was now using a hammer to strike the safety glass several times to demonstrate its strength and durability. Excitedly, the president asked Bill if he would be willing to teach his hammer technique to the entire sales force at the next company-training meeting.

Several months after Bill’s presentation, the company shattered its previous records for safety glass sales. The president was pleased with the company-wide results but was surprised Bill’s production was still significantly higher than the rest of the sales force. When he asked Bill if he had discovered any new techniques, Bill replied that he had recently made a subtle change in his presentation.

“I still use the hammer technique,” Bill said, “except now when I get to the part in my presentation where I demonstrate the strength of the safety glass, I hand the hammer to my customer and let them beat on the glass!”

By handing the hammer to his customer, Bill discovered the secret of successful selling. He took his sales career to the next level by finding a way to keep his customer actively engaged during his presentation. Are you keeping your prospects actively involved? If not, I encourage you to take a lesson from Bill and find a way to put the hammer in your prospect’s hand.

John Boe presents a wide variety of motivational and sales-oriented keynotes and seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions. John is a nationally recognized sales trainer and business motivational speaker with an impeccable track record in the meeting industry. To have John speak at your next event, visit or call (937) 299-9001.

For more from John Boe, click here.

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