Tag Archives: speakers

Guerrilla Selling – the Transaction Step

In the last issue, we discussed The Presentation Step, and how to create excitement and motivation to buy.  The Transaction is the fifth step of the “NaB & CaPTuRe” roadmap: Need, Budget, Conviction, Presentation, Transaction, Reward.

The Transaction is that exciting moment when the customer signs the paperwork, writes a check, or hands over their credit card. Traditionally called the “Close,” guerrillas know that this is really the beginning of what we hope will be a long relationship.

“Are You Sure?”

As you finish your Presentation, prospects sometimes stiffen. They’re thinking, “UH-oh, here comes the contract.”  Many customers dread this moment even if they really need the product, because they feel they’re losing control,  Understanding this, guerrillas end the Presentation Stage, with something like:

“Well, that about sums it up.  Do you have any questions?”  The prospect now feels a little more relaxed.

“No, not really.”

“What do you see as the next step?”

“Well, don’t you have to write up an order?”

“Do you want me to write up the order?

“Yes.  Let’s do this.”

You know you’ve done everything right when the customer asks you to write up the order.   With that, the guerrilla fills out the order form, writes up a contract or prepares the financial paperwork.  Now the guerrilla hands the form to his new customer for his or her “approval.”

The Turnback

As the new customer is about to sign, the guerrilla gently interrupts:

“You know, something’s still bothering me. Remember when you said you wanted mahogany?  Are you sure walnut is going to be okay?”

What the guerrilla wants to hear is something like:  “Yes, in fact, walnut is really going to be much better.  It will be cheaper and probably fit in better with our decor.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes.”

In the Transaction Stage, a guerrilla will recall at least one problem or objection, from earlier in the conversation, express genuine concern, and ask again if the concern is going to be a problem.  In so doing, not only are you turning control back to your customer, but you’re pre-empting buyer’s remorse. By capping the issue now, the guerrilla pre-empts buyer’s remorse.

When to Close

The best time to close is all the time.  Recognize that you have an opportunity to close any time the prospect makes choices, challenges, or changes.

Close any time there is a choice or small decision to be made, and that’s more often than you might think.  Close early and often, especially on little things.  Because people hate making big decisions, close on the small ones.

Always try to close after answering a challenge or objection.  If they accept your response, they will be psychologically receptive to making a commitment.  Guerrilla salespeople automatically finish their Presentation with a closing question, like, “Did I answer your question adequately?” or “Is that clear now?”

Also close any time there are changes in your prospects’ body language or changes in their criteria that could be interpreted as buying signals.

Five Types of Closes:

There are five basic closes and infinite variations.  They all have the same objective: to give the prospect an opportunity to say, “Yes.”

1. The Rx CloseRx Close

In the Prescription Close, you carefully probe, ask questions, summarize the problem, and then prescribe the solution.  “Based on what you’ve told me, I would recommend . . ..  Here’s what you’re going to need.”  This tactic is effective if the prospect trusts your expertise.

2. The Action Close

Pull out your pen and you start filling out the form, or phone the installer to set an appointment.  Or you might say, “Let me see if we’ve got that in stock. I’ll be right back,” and disappear into to the stockroom.

Return with the box in your arms and ask, “Okay, where are you parked?”  You know the deal is done when the prospect holds the door for you.

3. The Choice Close

Give them a minor decision that carries the major decision along with it.  This can be useful when breaking down a large decision into smaller, increments.  You’ve been looking at a $30,000 automobile and the guerrilla salesman says, “Would you like to put the stereo in the dash, or would you rather conceal it under the seat?”  Now, you have a small decision to make.

“Well, it would be more convenient in the dash.”  Not only have you bought the stereo, but of course, the car as well.

4. The Question Close

In the Question Close, you ask a question, which, when answered, gives you permission to proceed.  You might ask, with pen in hand, “What’s today’s date?”  When prospect answers, they’ve given you permission to proceed.  Or you might ask, “Excuse me, how do you spell your last name?”  When they provide the missing information, they’re saying, indirectly, “Yes, I’m ready.  Let’s go ahead with this.”  You’ve avoided putting them on the spot by asking, “Well, do you want me to write this up or not?”

5. The Add-on Close

The key phrase of the Add-on Close is, “Now you’ll also need. . .,” proposing some low-cost option or accessory.  “You’ll also need one of these to keep your blade nice and sharp.  They’re only ten dollars.”  When they agree to the blade sharpener, they’ve bought the lawn mower.  Guerrillas repeat the Add-on close until they get a “no.”  That’s when they know they have reached the limits of the prospect’s budget.

Close Early and Often

People do not want to be pressured.  They want to make their own decisions, and they resent being pushed too hard.  The goal is to make them feel that buying today is the most natural, intelligent decision that they could make.  Closing repeatedly will not only increase your sales, but also help prospects make good choices, and increase their respect for you.  So don’t stop until you have used at least three guerrilla closes.

When selling a new stereo system, a guerrilla we know combines the Question, Action and Add-on Close at the very beginning of his presentation by asking, “How far from the amplifier will you be putting the loudspeakers?”  Based on the prospect’s answer, he goes to the service counter, measures off the necessary length of wire, cuts it, ties it in a bundle and hands it to the prospect.  Now he’s setting through the Presentation, already holding the first component of his new stereo.

Silence is Golden

People are less suspicious than many salespeople believe, but they are also more sophisticated.  The public is as smart as your mother, and you know she’s no dummy.  People know when you’re asking them to take some action, and if they’re not ready, they’ll let you know.  Top salespeople will confirm that the simple, direct, unsophisticated closes can be very effective, but only if you use them.

In future installments of this series, we’ll explore each of the steps of “NaB & CaPTuRe” in more detail, and perhaps double or even quadruple your sales.

Guerrilla Selling – the COMMITMENT Step

In the last issue, we discussed how to determine your customer’s budget as the second step of our “NaB & CaPTuRe” roadmap: Need, Budget, Conviction, Presentation, Transaction, Reward.

The Commitment Step

In this critical step, you actually close the sale before making a presentation, by aligning your product or service with those criteria to which your customer is already committed. In the automobile industry it’s said that only 50% of the cars are sold. The other half are bought.

As often as not, your prospects have already decided to buy, before you get to talk to them. Car buyers are much more likely to be influenced by experience, friends, or media than by a salesperson.

A couple looking at a potential venue for their wedding reception has already committed to marrying each other. If they’ve also set the date and decided how many guests they will have, then you know they are ready to buy. Ask about other elements of their plans.

“Who have you arranged to do the catering?”

“Where will you hold the formal ceremony?”

“What transportation will you use from the church to the reception?”

“Will you want help with the decorating?”

The more complete their picture, the deeper their commitment.  So, for example, if the ceremony is being conducted at the church just up the street, you can emphasize the advantage of your location. “This will give your family a short, easy trip from the church.” If you know they’ve ordered an elaborate, expensive cake, you can emphasize the posh surrounding of your hotel. “Everyone will be impressed when you invite them into our lovely gardens.”

Criteria Words

The prospect will also have a set of physical specifications that the product or service must meet, in order to be satisfied. As in “it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight,” or “I’m looking for a dress in a size seven.” The guerrilla listens for these criteria words and notes them throughout the interview. Ask:

“What are you using now?”

“What do you like most about it?”

“What do you like least about it?”

These answers tell you what they want to keep, and what they want to change. Concentrate on those issues, and safely ignore everything else, because people do things for their reasons, not yours. You may have a hundred good reasons why they should buy this particular mountain home; price, location, good roads, rapid appreciation, close to schools, shops, recreation, and you know what? They couldn’t care less. No matter how good your reasons may be, ultimately, their reasons will prevail.

Other criteria may be introduced as the conversation continues, but the guerrilla concentrates only on those priority words and criteria words isolated by the prospect.

Buying Roadmap

It’s also useful to isolate the mental and physical steps your prospect follows when making a decision. People have a mental roadmap that they follow when making decisions. This strategy is unique to each prospect, but they tend to use the same strategy whenever they make a buying decision. The question that you can use to elicit their roadmap is to ask, “How did you decide . . .?” For example, a real estate agent might ask, “How did you decide to buy the house where you live now?” then listen carefully to their explanation.

“First we narrowed the search to a particular neighborhood where we wanted to live, then we checked all the listings, marking each address on a map. Then we looked at each house until we found the one that felt right.”

This answer reveals not only the criteria, but the roadmap of their house-buying strategy. If you lead them through the same progression, it makes it easy for them to buy from you. Start by “narrowing down” to the particular neighborhoods they liked best, then pull out a map, and start “marking.” Like a familiar chair, following their roadmap puts you in the selling “groove”. Besides, they’re going to buy the house their way, anyway. If not from you, then from someone who makes them feel more comfortable. So you might as well match their strategy. Listen for the sequence of the process they follow when making a similar decision, and then systematically structure your case using the same progression.

Is That Clear?

Sometimes the customer doesn’t really know what they want. Let’s take the case of a copier salesperson. If you ask the question, “What do you want in a copier?” and the response you get is something like, “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure,” there are additional things you can do to get to their criteria. You can ask, “What are you using now? What do you like most about that?” or “What’s the exact problem you’re trying to solve?”

“What are you using now?”

“We are using an HP LaserJet.”

“What do you like most about your LaserJet?” he asked, repeating the prospect’s criteria words.

“It’s inexpensive to operate, and the copies are crisp and clear.”

“What do you like least about your LaserJet?”

“It’s too slow, and it wasn’t able to print collated and stapled documents.”

Now we’re getting criteria language: inexpensive, crisp, clear, (visual cues, you’ll notice) as well as the functional need for automatic collating and stapling. If you can show her that your copier will do it more quickly, collate and staple documents, and still reduce their operating cost, she’s going to lease the copier. And she really doesn’t care how many pixels of resolution it has, or how many reams of paper the bins will store, or what its internal drum speed is, so long as they get “collated, stapled copies that are crisp and clear.” This decision will hinge primarily on these five factors. You can ignore the rest, (at least for now) because. These five words are the keys to unlocking their sub-conscious mind.

Remember, priorities, criteria words and roadmaps are often unique to the context in which they’re used. The way your prospect makes decisions about buying office supplies may be very different from what they look for when shopping for a car.

Some additional questions for isolating criteria include:

“What is your main objective?”

“What are you doing to deal with that situation?”

“What are your plans for the future?”

“How do you plan to get it done?”

“Can you tell me more about that?”

“Is there a deadline?”

The answers to these questions will provide the performance specifications for your proposal. Whatever else this product may have going for it, must satisfy these physical criteria. Now present your product using the same criteria words, and follow their roadmap directly to the sale.

In future installments of this series, we’ll explore each of the steps of “NaB & CaPTuRe” in more detail, and perhaps double or even quadruple your sales.   This article was originally published in Marketing Africa magazine.

“Sculpting” Transends Langage, Race and Culture in Nairobi

Orvel Ray presenting in Nairobi, Kenya

Orvel Ray presenting diplomas in Nairobi, Kenya

In September, speaker and consultant Scott “Q” Marcus did a program and workshop for NSA Colorado on an advanced audience-interaction technique called “Sculpting,” in which participants collaborate to build a living model of a problem or situation, then work to solve it. It was outstanding in every respect, and we all left the day eager to give it a try.

The opportunity arose in the opening hour of a two-day Advanced Guerrilla Selling Seminar that I was teaching last week in Nairobi, Kenya. After the opening story and overview, the room was just flat. At first I just chalked it up to my America accent; after all, their first language was Swahili. Or maybe it was a bit of a cultural thing (here’s another White man telling us what to do) but it just wasn’t connecting. Here were 90 Sales VPs and Managers, from three countries, representing the biggest companies in East Africa, sitting quietly and looking skeptical. I was in trouble and I knew it.

So I did a sculpt, based on the “Get through the Day” theme that Scott had demonstrated. I called for a volunteer to represent the role of the Salesman. Mark, who sells big transformers to electrical utilities, stepped forward, and we positioned him far stage left, and gave him the goal of getting across to the far end of the 20-foot stage, which would represent his goal of making the sale.

Then I asked the audience to shout out possible obstacles that could get in the way.

“Competition!”
“Traffic” (Nairobi is notoriously gridlocked)
“Infrastructure” (temperamental at best, or lacking altogether)
“Technology”
“Dead mobile”
“Corruption”
“Time”
“Price”
and so on.
As each participant spoke up, we brought them in turn up onto the stage, asked them to pose in a way that would show us what their obstacle might “look like,” and “where in the day” it should go. After arranging themselves across the stage, we set the sculpt in motion. “OK, Mark, time to go to work.”

It looked like a Rugby scrum as Mark struggled to push his way over, around, under and through one challenger after another. It was hysterical. When he finally made it to far stage right, the room exploded into applause and cheers.

“So, is this what it feels like to do business in Africa?” I asked.

A resounding, “YES!”

“Ok, then. Over the next two days, this seminar is going to teach you strategies and tactics to help overcome all of these obstacles, and more.”

It was as if someone had waved a magic wand. What they got from the sculpt was that, first of all, this was going to be a fun, collaborative, participative environment, rather than a formal stuffy lecture. (Kenya was a British Protectorate, and that culture still lingers. It’s subtle, but Kenyans are resentful of white authority figures). It also set their expectations that the content would be practical and street-wise. They could see that, “this guy gets it.” I think it gave them permission to relax, speak out and play along. And it humanized me in a way that bonded me to the group. From that moment on, they were fully engaged, relaxed, chatty and eager to speak out and participate.

Imagine my shock and surprise when this same group gave the program a standing ovation at the end of the second day. Absolutely unheard of for a long seminar; certainly a first in my career.

The sculpt set the stage for a successful learning experience that transcended language, race and culture. Scott, I can’t thank you enough for teaching us this very powerful technique, and I look forward to using it again in my next seminar.

How to Select a Professional Speaker for Your Next Conference, Convention or Sales Meeting

Selecting the right presenters can make or break your event.

The good ones see themselves as part of the larger team, and will share their wealth of experience to insure your overall success. The bad ones see themselves as the star-of-the-show, with little consideration for the needs of other (often non-professional) speakers on the program. Use these 10 guidelines to screen the mountain of material that your speakers or their bureaus will send you.

Content

A professional speaker should engage, educate, motivate, and entertain, and in that order of priority. Unless this event changes your peoples’ behavior in some measurable way, you’re wasting their time and your money. New skills, new information, and new insights produce new customers, new sales, and increased profits.

Authority

Wouldn’t you rather take advice from a published expert, who has invested the time and effort to thoroughly research their field and write a book, or two, or three? Ask for autographed copies. And beware of vanity press imprints. If a major New York house published their books, you know they’re the real deal.

Originality

Beginners often pirate others’ examples and content, sometimes even telling a story as if it had actually happened to them. I recently heard a meeting planner complain, “If I hear one more cliché out of this guy I will scream.” If you’ve heard it before, so have your people.

Delivery

Are you looking for an academic expert (who may put your people to sleep) or a stand-up comic (whose act could play a nightclub)? Don’t settle. Look for a pro who can engage AND entertain, delivering powerful content with passion and pizzazz. After all, you want your people to remember the point, not just the punch line.

Customization

If a speaker is going to presume to tell you how to run your business better, they better understand your business. Select a speaker who will take a personal interest in your industry, your company, and your people. Will they visit your office, review your collateral material, shop your competition, or spend a day riding with your salespeople? Will they fly in early to attend the whole conference? An outsider’s insight may prove priceless. A real pro is a quick study, and will customize until they sound like they’re from home office.

Certification

There are two conferred by the National Speakers Association: the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and the Council of Peers Award of Excellence (CPAE). The CPAE is an honorary designation, a lifetime achievement award, while the CSP requires a minimum of 250 presentations over a five-year period, for at least 100 different clients, at a substantial minimum fee, and must be renewed every five years. The CSP is your assurance of the highest standards of professionalism and excellence. An elite group of veterans hold both.

Technical Mastery

The days when a speaker could stand behind a podium and just read from notes are long gone. Top pros supercharge their speeches with multiple multi-media: computer animation, upbeat music, sound effects and video. And they bring their own computers, projectors and microphones. (BTW, this can save you a bundle!) After all, when take your car to a mechanic, don’t you expect them to use their own tools?

Access

Does a live person answer the phone when you call? Successful speakers travel constantly, but are always accessible through their staff. They use cell phones, voice-mail and e-mail to keep in touch. The real pros check both at least twice a day, and respond promptly, personally.

Video

They did include a video didn’t they? The pros all have at least one; or two, or more. Ask for the what-you-see-is-what-you-get version, shot live, unedited (except perhaps for opening trailers). And while the WYSIWYG take may be technically flawed, anyone can look good in front of a studio full of friends.

Audition

Are they coming to your area? The pros get around, and will gladly arrange for you to sit in. If that’s not an option, interview them by phone. Think of it as a live one-on-one audition. Ask them to advise you on a particular challenge or business issue, then ask yourself, “Does this sound like the kind of advice we want our people to hear?”

References

You should never have to ask for them. A professional will automatically include them in the press kit, along with a client list and multiple testimonials. Read the letters. Look at the dates; are they current? Check references on their LinkedIn profile as well. Then call at least two.

Deliverables

What will your people take away to help them recall and implement what they’ve heard? Can your speaker provide a textbook, a workbook, a cassette or two, an action list, a checklist, a laminated wallet card, or a free web e-zine. Some of these “extras” should be included in the fee. Can they post their handouts and PowerPoint slides on a web site for download? Ask. These minor extras add major impact and multiply the take-home value of the message.

Fees

Worry less on what the speaker will charge; worry more on what your people will get. Does the fee include pre-event consultation, research, customization, travel time, travel expenses, handouts, workbooks, AV equipment, pens, markers or other supplies? A bad program is no bargain. If you’re investing half a million dollars to host a conference, you can’t afford a dud.

On the other hand, most pros will leverage their preparation by doing multiple programs. Stretch your speaker budget by asking for combined fees for a keynote, plus multiple breakout sessions, VIP receptions, panel discussions, etc.

Orval Ray Wilson, Orvil Ray Wilson, Orville Ray Wilson – What’s in a Name?

Get Your Customer’s Name Right – Or Else!

I can’t BELIEVE how CREATIVE people get with my name! Orval, Orvil, Orvalle, Orville, Orvaille! It drives me NUTS! Officially, it’s a two-part first name: Orvel Ray. Like Billy Joe or Mary Ann. Hyphenate it if you wish: Orvel-ray. Or camel caps: OrvelRay. Most of my friends shorten it to just Orvel. Or even O.R.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not all THAT upset about it. But if you’re trying to be found on the internet, you have to be aware that people will butcher your name.

Guerrillas also know that when it comes to selling customers, they better get it right. Spell it correctly and pronounce it correctly. When in doubt, ask.

And if they have a suffix after their name, include it. I recently had an article published in a business magazine in Dubai, and they dropped the CSP from my by-line. The “Certified Speaking Professional” is the highest level of certification recognized worldwide by the speaking industry, and it was a lot of work to earn it. As trilled as I always am to see my name in print, this was a big disappointment.

Dale Carnegie said, “A man’s own name, to him, is the sweetest sounding word in any language.” Get it right.

–Orvel Ray Wilson, CSP

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Guerrilla Speaker Makes Your Meeting Count

Professional speakers add value, but can you prove it?

Of course, with the corporate meetings sector cutting back and slashing budgets (as much as 30% by some accounts) we are all being called to account for results. One of the 10 Principles of Guerrilla Selling is “Measurement.” It’s easy, but most speakers don’t bother.

There are five levels of metrics that speakers and event planners should apply to every program, every speaker:

1. Did they like it?

These are the “smile sheets” that you collect after the applause. It’s relatively easy to get a standing ovation. In fact, I have a testimonial on my web site that says, “Yours was the highest-rated program we’ve ever had; 5.0 out of 5!” But for the most part, these numbers are meaningless. Every professional speaker should be engaging and entertaining. Otherwise you’re better off spending the money upgrading the lunch entrée from rigatoni to chicken.

2. Did they remember it?

Do you quizz participants after 24 hours, 72 hours, and at the end of a week, to see how “sticky” the material was. Most “motivational” speakers fall into this trap. People will recall that “it was a great speech” but can’t tell you one new thing that they learned. Really good speakers build their programs so that the audience remembers the point as well as the punchline. Otherwise, skip the speaker and splurge on the standup comic. I hear Jeff Foxworthy is available for about the same fee as an average NSA keynoter.

3. Did they use it?

Great information and innovative ideas are useless if they’re not put to use. An effective speaker should leave their audience feeling, “I can DO that!” They should take back practical guerrilla action items that they can use right away, and feel confident taking the initiative. If a professional speaker doesn’t change people’s behavior as well as their attitude, you might as well book the booze cruise instead.

4. When they tried it, did it work?

If the strategies and tactics that the speaker is espousing don’t actually work (and I mean in the REAL world) then they may do more harm than good. Your people will waste hundreds of hours and gawd-knows how much money. Professional speakers have the expertise to back up their eloquence. They can point to actual examples where their recommendations have been effective. And if they can’t, dump the DJ and bring on the rock band.

5. If it worked, how much was it worth?

Did you increase sales? Boost profits? Cut costs? Reduce turnover? Capture new customers? Leapfrog the competition? This is where you justify the “lavish” meeting at the “posh” resort to the accountants and the press. An effective speaker will follow through with the client long after the program (yes, even after a year or two) to monitize their impact.

Case in point:

Philips Medical was spending nearly $6M over 4½ days to exhibit at their industry’s biggest trade show. Twenty-six tractor-trailers full of fixtures and equipment filled a 10,000 sq/ft booth in McCormick Place. It would be staffed by 136 mostly technical personnel. At the pre-show briefing they invited me to present a three-hour custom training session on “Guerrilla Trade Show Selling.”

The seminar was well received. Ratings in the low fours. But ninety days later we looked at the numbers. Participants had applied their new skills to good affect. Qualified leads were up 144% over the previous year, and they had already closed more than $8M worth of new business. Today this training is required for every employee who might represent Philips at a trade show anywhere in the world.

If you take the time, and build this kind of deep evaluation into every project you do, you’ll never have difficulty justifying the cost of your meeting, or the speakers you hire to present at them. If you still have to cut costs, dump the golf.

–OrvelRay