Streamline Presentations to Reach Customers, Sales Consultant Says

by WOHe

Streamline Presentations to Reach Customers, Sales
Consultant Says

One problem salespeople in the kitchen and bath industry face is
that a kitchen or bath is often a once-in-a-lifetime purchase that
consumers tend to research thoroughly before approaching a design
firm. Homeowners often have reams of unstructured and complex
information that they’re unable to put into context, with so many
questions that they don’t know where to begin to seek answers.

The key to breaking through this logjam and reaching the person
obscured behind it is a process called selective attention,
according to sales expert Harry Mills. He is the author of a new
book called Artful Persuasion: How to Command Attention, Change
Minds and Influence People.

“Selective attention means that consumers ignore most messages
and focus their attention on a few key points, usually one at a
time,” Mills observes. “The real message isn’t what you say it’s
what the other person remembers.”

It’s important, in terms of your selling efforts, to be brief,
Mills says.

The way people process information is by easily digestible
chunks, he notes, adding that the simplest and most common
“chunking” technique is the two-part contrast. The mind readily
separates information into two parts, like “old/new” or

This suggests that, as you present your product information or
proposal, structuring it in terms of “this or that” instead of an
endless series of open-ended choices will make it more

The second-most common organizational pattern is something
called “the rule of threes,” according to Mills.

“Although we don’t fully understand the psychological reasons,
information is extraordinarily compelling when clustered in groups
of three: three points, three arguments, three phrases,” Mills

Facts also acquire muscle when they’re structured around a
theme, notes Mills. “The old speaker’s adage, ‘Tell them what
you’re going to tell them, then tell them what you just told them,’
still holds true, Mills notes, adding that it doesn’t have to be a
profound theme.

The beginning and the end of your presentation are the two most
important parts. Studies show that those are often all that is
retained. Create a strong and dynamic opening to your sales
presentation. An effective ending calls for action. Remember to
always ask for the order. A coupon in your ad will make it more
effective than an ad without a coupon. A time limit to an offer
makes the offer more compelling. And, don’t give up trying to
persuade, even if you fail the first time. Remember the rule of
threes. Repackage your closing argument, wait a few days and
present it again as if fresh.

When dealing with questions, practice reflective listening, says
Mills. Don’t just parrot the other person’s words. Listen
carefully, and then restate the question with phrases such as “It
sounds like” or “In other words” or “So, you’re saying”

You want to encourage the other person to keep talking. You want
to correct any misunderstandings, false assumptions and
misinterpretations. You want to reassure the person that you are
listening. You want to gain insight into the needs of the other
person. You want to remember what was said. And, you want to build
rapport and mutual respect.

There are three types of questions to ask, says Mills.

  • Open questions are often said to be the most persuasive. They
    are questions such as “What problems are you having with your
    current kitchen layout?”
  • Closed questions are used to narrow the focus of a sale. They
    require a specific answer, such as “Do you want porcelain enamel or
    stainless steel?” or “Is the 28th a good date for
  • Mills suggests you use what he calls “disturbing questions.”
    These are questions that move people from “I have a problem” to “I
    have a need for your services.” Examples might be “Do you feel your
    current kitchen design makes entertaining difficult?” “Is it
    inconvenient to have the dishwasher where it is now?” “Do you think
    you might cook together more if the range were in a more convenient

Naturally, these questions can only be used once you have
located the customer’s perceived problem. But, once you have, using
them can help you get the customer focused. on the implications of
his problem.

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