How To Make A Sales Talk
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
In making a sales talk one has the opportunity to bring into play every element of his personality—appearance, speech, manners, knowledge, ability to get along with others, and character. Sales managers often say that the sale starts as soon as the prospective customer sees the salesman. From that point on every impression he makes either advances the sale or retards it. Here we are concerned primarily with the sales talk itself, but like a portrait, it needs a perfect frame to make it stand out effectively. If you are attractively dressed and well groomed, and if you are courteous, sincere, and friendly, your speech will be much more effective.
Watch Your Mental Attitude
If you are a salesman instead of a mere order taker, you always make certain preparations before calling upon a prospect. You learn all you can about his needs, you have in mind the points you wish to make, and you take samples, surveys, or other visual material to help make your sales talk more effective. These are important, but of even greater importance is your own mental attitude. Approach every prospect with the attitude that you have something of value to offer, that he can appreciate it if you make the proper presentation, and that if he needs your product he will buy. Bear in mind that he is busy and probably has troubles of which you are unaware; hence he will enjoy seeing someone whose mental attitude cheers and stimulates him. If you radiate cheerfulness, optimism, confidence (but not arrogance), friendliness (but not familiarity), and show a genuine desire to understand your prospect's needs, you have half won your objective—which is primarily making a friend for your firm,
with the ultimate purpose of making him a steady customer. Be enthusiastic and energetic in your thought and you will find that your prospective customer will usually react correspondingly, for real enthusiasm arouses interest, while a nonchalant or a blase attitude begets indifference. Always expect an order. Never let fear or indecision enter your mind for a moment, for they are two of a salesman's worst enemies.
The Successful Sales Talk Is Planned
Many sales managers provide their salesmen with care-fully prepared sales talks that give all the pertinent facts about the commodities to be sold, present all the sales arguments, and answer all objections.
Most salesmen are resentful of these "canned" talks and refuse to use them, preferring their own hit-and-miss methods of selling. They say that giving a talk prepared by some-one in the office makes the presentation dull and mechanical, that the talk doesn't fit their needs, and that no two sales talks should be alike. A good prepared sales talk is invaluable, however, if used intelligently. The salesman who learns such a talk isn't vague; he doesn't ramble; he fore-stalls objections by answering them before they are made; he marshals his sales points in logical order, dwelling on those that fit the particular case at hand, and stopping when he sees that the sale is made.
Don't think that learning a sales talk necessarily makes for mechanical presentation. Every actor presents the words of another. If he makes the part his own by thinking about it until the ideas are his, he gives a realistic performance. If he merely learns the words and repeats them without feeling he sounds like a parrot. And so it is with a salesman who learns a "canned" talk. If he thinks out every idea as he memorizes the phraseology, his presentation will be convincing, provided, of course, that he has faith in his firm, his product, and himself.
If no one provides a salesman with a model sales talk, he must work one out for himself. To be successful, a sales talk must be well organized and logical; it must attract and hold the prospective buyer's attention, must answer his objections, arouse his desire to buy, and step by step must lead him to the point of placing an order. Sincerity, enthusiasm, and confidence create enthusiasm and confidence in the mind of the prospect; they are therefore essential to a successful sales presentation.
Use Words to Paint a Picture
Granted that visual demonstrations, printed charts, and advertising material are excellent supplementary sales tools, the fact remains that the salesman must rely largely upon words to make his sale. With them he must paint on his prospect's mind a series of pictures that will arouse interest, create desire, and cause him to buy.
In order to do this, the salesman must first have a clear image in his own mind. Then by means of words that are definite and concrete he must transfer the image to the mind of his listener. A salesman who talks in vague generalities or uses words so overworked that they have lost all life and meaning can create no desirable image. You can easily prove this from your own experience. The furniture salesman, for example, who says, "This is a swell-looking dining room suite," leaves you cold. The one who calls attention to the graceful lines of table and chairs, the delicate hand carving, the fine, even grain of the wood, and the sturdy construction, shows that he appreciates the quality of the goods he is selling and instills in you the same appreciation.
Making the Right Appeal
In these days of stiff competition most salesmen complain that selling is merely a matter of price, that quality no longer appeals to the majority of buyers. It is true that price will seem more important to your prospect than value unless you have the skill with words that can build value higher than the price. Remember that much of the value in merchandise is hidden and intangible. The customer can't see it until you bring it into view. Naturally, if he can't see it he won't pay for it and something cheaper will look just as good to him.
Salesmen of quality must learn to translate value into service, convenience, comfort, and pride of ownership, as well as into dollar-and-cents savings. If your merchandise will last longer and give better service than an inferior article, you can prove that your customer will pay the price of your merchandise whether he buys it or not, for he will be forced to buy several inferior articles to last as long as one of yours.
Many salesmen waste
an unbelievable amount of time in talking to a prospect without creating a desire for their products. They call, leave or mail literature, and still nothing happens. Mean-while some other salesman with the ability to paint desire-arousing pictures of his product walks away with the order.
Some people buy as soon as their desire is aroused. But most men must be convinced of the value of what they want to buy. This calls for facts and possibly for argument, al-though persuasion is more effective than argument. Argument, as you know, appeals to the reason; persuasion appeals to the emotions. If you permit an argument to become too prolonged and you become too intense, you may win the argument, but you will probably lose the sale. If your prospect contradicts you or disagrees with what you have said, don't become excited or angry—be tactful. Agree with him by saying, for example, "There is undoubtedly a great deal of truth in what you say, but . . ." and then restate your own arguments. Remember that you have only two objectives—to make a sale and to gain a friend for your firm. Anything that puts an obstacle in the way of achieving these objectives must be eliminated.
Don't make the mistake of substituting a eulogy of your firm and an account of how much business you do, for facts that will prove the value of your product to the particular prospect with whom you are talking.
Remember that the word you is always a thousand times more effective and more interesting to your listeners than the word I.
Never let your presentation become stale. Make every sales talk as fresh, as vital, as if you were giving it for the first time.
A good sales talk is seldom wasted even if circumstances prevent an immediate order. If your sales presentation impresses your prospect, he will remember parts of it even after you have forgotten him, and he may either give you an order later or he may be instrumental in turning the business of his friends in your direction.
Have faith in your firm and in yourself; equip yourself with a thorough knowledge of what you have to sell; appreciate the power of words and learn to use them effectively; you will then be entitled to call yourself a salesman.