Winning Over Clients: The Fourth Step in the Selling Cycle

By Tom Hopkins

Your presentation of your product, service, or idea requires the most preparation. In your preparation, practice your answers to common questions with a family member or fellow salesperson. Make a list of the benefits you think are your strongest persuaders in placing your product. Then figure out a way to work those points into responses to the common questions asked by potential clients.

For example, suppose you’re selling a brand-new service through which busy people can dial a number to hear all of this week’s grocery sale items at their favorite store. Then they can speak into the phone the quantity they’d like of each item (whether on sale or not) and have the items delivered to their homes. Because the service is new, you don’t have a track record of success to brag about. So here’s where you may start:

PROSPECT: Well, it sounds like a good idea, but you haven’t proven it to be successful. I’d hate to be a guinea pig and end up having to do my shopping anyway because it didn’t work out.

SALESPERSON: Because this is a new service, we’re paying special ­attention to the orders that come in. In fact, we have two people who listen to the recording of each call to confirm that your verbal request is what shows up on our shopping list. One of them even gives you a quick call to verify your order, ask if there’s anything else you’d like to add, and arrange the best delivery time for you.

The real issue is not that the service is new but that the client doesn’t feel she would have the time to shop if the service didn’t end up working out. By showing that you have backup systems in place to ensure the order is handled properly, you answered the quality-control question that triggered the prospect’s “guinea pig” reference.

To demonstrate personal dependability and trustworthiness, tell the prospective client an anecdote from another client situation or even from an outside activity of yours. For example, if you were an Eagle Scout as a kid, that says a lot about you, doesn’t it? Even if you didn’t make Eagle Scout but were active in scouting for a number of years, that fact presents a positive image, one that says you stick to things and honor your commitments. Find a way to bring up those kinds of activities.

Your clients buy more than your product — they buy you. Amazing things can happen during the rapport-building phase of a meeting.