Sales clinic: Those days are gone . . .

Sales clinic: Those days are gone . . .

Back in the '60s, Bob Dylan wrote, The times, they are a changin. But let's face it, in those days, change occurred at a snail's pace, compared to the giddy '90s.

All this change, accompanied by the ever-increasing amount of information we have to process on a day-to-day basis, means we have less time than ever to "connect" with clients, prospects, partners and employees.

The heat is on resellers to make this "connection" and relate effectively to decision-makers in partner and pros-pective organisations, to remain competitive in your market. So, how do you make every moment count when you're in front of a prospect or client? How will you ensure they want to do business with your company, more than your competition?

Your career and company depends on you getting the answers to these questions right!

Rogen specialises in persuasive face-to-face communication skills, in selling, presenting, negotiating and dealing with the media. The aim of this column is to provide a steady flow of ideas, insights and techniques for sourcing, closing, serving, growing and keeping quality clients and partners.

This week, we'll dive straight into that old favourite - the credentials presentation.

Whether seeking appointment by a vendor, or closing a competitive bid, the credentials presentation is something that looks and sounds simple, but so many people get it wrong.

Last week I sat through an IT company's dress rehearsal of a credentials pitch straight out of the '70s.

It started with the managing director explaining about the company's global presence: "These are our offices around the world . . ."

He then showed six more slides covering current client list by logo (two slides), revenue growth, organisational structure, company strategy, and testimonials. Then he showed a video.

He didn't mention the name of the client, nor show any understanding of the client's business. The video was stock footage with no relevance for the client in the room.

And then at the end, those magic words, "So, enough about us, tell us a bit about your company."

At this point I was asked to critique and did so by reminding them of a great line once used by Olympic bid chief Rod McGeoch: "Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care."

I thought the days of the one-way, feature-driven, generic credentials pitch were gone, but they obviously aren't.

So, what's the best way to handle a credentials presentation? Here are some key points to consider:

Nobody cares about your company - only what it can do for them.

Only tell them about the services you offer that are relevant to their needs. (Nobody cares about your revenue-growth chart, because it's unlikely you'd show them if revenue was going down.)Keep the entire presentation focused on them and their business. This work needs to be done in advance.

Use evidence - examples, case studies, facts, statistics and demonstrations to prove you can service their need. Irrelevant examples do more damage than good.

Only tell them about your offices around the world if they need service in other countries, or if you're trying to demonstrate a size or international experience that you know they need.

And never, never ask them at the end to tell you something about their company. It only proves you haven't bothered to do your homework.

Jeff Sheard is sales director for Asia-Pacific of Rogen International. Reach Rogen at:

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