Group sales separate the men from the boys. You must be skilled at sales, more skilled at people reading, and even more skilled at group dynamics.
In a group, you can sell 5 out of 6 and not make the sale. Worse, you can sell 99 of 100 and not make the sale.
The problem in group sales is that you must please everyone. One night in a group presentation, a woman asked me what was my favorite color. I told her plaid. The group loved it.
My friend Bill Lehew is the master of group sales. Over the last decade, he has sold thousands of people, all in groups of 10 to 500. Lehew says if you can sell a group of 100, selling one–on–one becomes duck soup.
After spending a few hours discussing and documenting the dynamics of the group selling process, here are some guidelines that have proven themselves to be successful in actual selling situations... and won the sale:
(Remember, a group is two or more. So even if you're presenting to two or three decision makers, these principles still apply.)
- Look plain vanilla – dressing too far left or right of center can distract the audience. You want them to concentrate on what you're saying, not what you're wearing.
- Get there early and introduce yourself to everyone, get to know some of them personally. Find and remember those who seem most enthusiastic.
- Remember everyone's name. This is considered by many as the sleeper of trump cards. People love to hear their names. Being recognized by name is a sense of pride among peers. It can definitely sway the opinion of the group in your favor. You may have to take one of those memory courses to do it, but Lehew claims it is one of his most valuable weapons.
- Get some information about the group in advance. Their history, goals and achievements. Being able to talk to the group as an insider rather than an outsider has dynamic advantage.
- Find the power person – the one who (other than you) seems to have the attention of the group. Play to the leader.
- Find the problem person and address them head–on and early. Have solid answers to their questions and concerns. The "one rotten apple spoils the whole basket" rule applies here.
- Uncover all objections by asking the group questions early. Write down their concerns on a board or flip chart. Be sure to cover everyone of them and check them off as you do.
- Anticipate objections and cover them in the presentation – You already know what they're going to ask; why not have scripted answers?
- Get interaction early – Audience participation leads to a feeling of ownership... and a sale.
- Get someone in favor to talk early –remember the name of those in favor when you walked into the room? Now's your time to play the card, and play to the group. One of them can sell them better than ten of you.
- Address the numbers for those who are analytical – If you have a bean counter or logical type, they will be relentless to get the facts. Don't disappoint them. Give solid, hard core, believable facts and move on to the emotional issues.
- Win the group emotionally after you have made the numbers very clear – This is the heart of the selling process. You must present solid emotional reasons of involvement, protection, benefit and security to win the sale.
- Give good handouts that are clear, concise, high quality paper, and that lead to a close. Your company, your integrity, and your ability to make the sale often ride on the quality and understandability or your handout or sales literature. It must be first quality all the way.
"Humor plays an important role in group dynamics. Not funny stories, just being humorous can win a crowd – and create a favorable negotiating climate," Lehew says with a classic southern drawl. "If they laugh with you, it makes them feel comfortable and in the mood to buy."
"It's totally different than one–on–one," says Lehew. "You can't afford to alienate anyone. In my years of experience, I have only found one way to consistently win the group – it's integrity. I know it may sound too simple, and even a little old fashioned, but it is the basis of my success in group sales, and the basis of my success in life."
In a group sale, it takes consensus to rule in your favor...
but only takes one person to rule against you.
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