Picture this: You just left your district manager (DM) or regional sales meeting with the latest promotions that are scheduled for the next four weeks. You’re excited because the promos are good and the prices are right. But even more exciting is the new tool you learned about that’s in stock and ready to sell. (Let’s call it the ‘Model OMG Digital Diagnostic Tool.’) This tool sings, dances, slices, dices and diagnoses just about every electronic fault known to man. It sells for $3,000, which is above the competition’s price for a comparable tool, but yours performs a lot more functions. In fact, it performs so many functions you have not quite figured them all out yet.
Our example here could be about any complicated or expensive product: storage, scan, lifts, compressors, etc.
It’s now the next morning and you’re all revved up and ready to go sell the new Model OMG Digital Diagnostic Tool. Your second stop today is at a successful local dealership with 45 technicians that are busy every day, which means they have money to spend and they really value their time. So, in you go to begin your presentation in the shop to a group of about 10 prospects. The presentation goes something like this:
You: “This is the new Model OMG Diagnostic Tool that is new to the market.”
Prospect: “Is it digital?”
You: “Oh yeah; it is digital. In fact, the real name is Model OMG Digital Diagnostic Tool. This tool supports European, domestic and Asian brands.”
Prospect: “How far back in car years does this tool go? Will it diagnose a 10-year-old Ford?”
You: “Hmmm. I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you on that.”
In the background someone fires up a loud hammer chisel and you have to stand there quietly for about 20 seconds, which seems like an eternity.
You: “It is easily updated from the internet.”
Prospect: “How often are the updates available?”
You: “Hmmm. I don’t know but I’ll get back to you on that.”
And so it goes. You know the product basics, but as the questions get deeper you realize how little you really know about this new tool. By now most of the prospective customers have wandered away and so has most of your chance to ever sell them your super new tool. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. There is not a salesperson alive that hasn’t had this happen, and some allow it to happen to them all the time. The following ideas can help you be more successful when introducing a new, expensive and/or technically complicated product.
Let’s look at the same post-DM meeting scenario and the initial enthusiasm for the super new Model OMG Digital Diagnostic Tool.
First, absolutely positively do not run right out and try to sell this new product to anyone – especially your best customers. Take some time to work with the tool at home to get a real feel for how it works. Read the literature over and over, and if the manufacturer was wise enough to provide you with a real sales pitch training manual or video, be sure you understand everything the best you can.
If you came from a vehicle repair background you could have a leg-up, but vehicles may have changed a lot in the years that have passed since you were wrenching. If you came into the mobile jobbing [DB1] industry from a non-wrenching position, you really need to do your homework. If you have a question you just can’t figure out, call the product manager from your company or even call the product manager at the manufacturer. If you find yourself with a question but no answer, you can bet a prospect will soon ask you that very question.
Build your demo
The next step to your success is to build a product demonstration agenda.
What are the top eight to 10 features and benefits of this product? Write them down and rehearse them out loud. This will give you something to do as you’re driving between calls instead of trying to sing like Blake Shelton or AC/DC.
Now you have a pretty good idea how this new super tool works, and you have a solid knowledge of the top features and benefits. Again, absolutely positively do not run right out and try to sell this new product to your best customers. Why? Even though you might have a good idea of how this tool works, you might not yet have a good handle on the questions that are going to be asked, and what objections the prospects will fire at you.
Take your pitch “off-off Broadway”
If you think about it, a play or musical doesn’t just show up on a Broadway stage. It spends months in smaller towns working out the bugs. Unless you’re a maniac, you don’t start out riding a Harley CVO Limited or a Ducati Monster. You start out smaller on a Sportster sized motorcycle. Even the Beatles spent several years singing in small Liverpool clubs before they hit the big time. Sales is no different.
Start out presenting your new Model OMG Digital Diagnostic Tool to your smaller customers first. These smaller customers will have the same questions and objections as your bigger customers, so make your selling mistakes with them. Solidify your skills so you are answering the common questions in your presentation and covering the primary objections before they come up. After you have stubbed your sales toe a few times you will really get the hang of presenting this new product and be ready for selling at your local mega dealer.
Some side thoughts about selling a large ticket and/or complicated product:
1. Remember the hammer chisel interrupting your presentation? If at all possible when presenting a complicated and expensive product, get your prospect into a quiet area where interruptions will be at a minimum. I know this is not easy, but if your prospect’s attention is half on you and half on what’s going on around you, your chance of success drops significantly. Why do you think the finance and insurance person at a car dealership has a private office? They are going over a lot of details with their customers and also trying to sell them additional warranties and super-duper seat protection. Just like you are.
2. Invest the selling time to do it right. Sure, you are busy every day, and, yes, you need to make all your stops scheduled for each day… but let’s say you are selling someone a $300 torque wrench at 35 percent gross margin and it takes 15 minutes of selling time. Your gross margin dollars for that sale is $105. If you are selling a $3,000 Model OMG Digital Diagnostic Tool at 30 percent gross margin, your gross margin is $900. Don’t be afraid to invest an hour of selling time; your return per selling hour will be significantly more.
Do you have any thoughts on these ideas, positive or negative? Drop us a line; we love to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now… GO SELL SOMETHING!
Alan W. Sipe has spent the last 42 years in the basic hand tool industry including positions as president of KNIPEX Tools North America, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Klein Tools, manager of special markets at Stanley Tools and sales manager at toolbox manufacturer Waterloo Industries. Currently, Sipe is the owner of Toolbox Sales and Consulting, a company specializing in sales strategy, structure, development and training. Sipe can be reached ator 847-910-1063.