Should You Present First or Last?

This week’s blog is by Dave Sohigian, a senior sales engineer who provides tips and advice for sales engineers on his blog, Tech Demo Guy.

In a sales cycle, you often have the opportunity to decide whether you want to present before or after your competition. My experience is you need to answer some questions before you decide which position you want.

  • Does your prospect understand the purpose of your product? If they don’t, then go last and let the competition do the hard work of educating them.
  • Are there specific traps you can set for your competition? If you can say to the prospect after a demonstration: “Ask our competitors to show you how they handle that,” it is a good trap. If you have lots of these, then going first is a good idea.
  • Is the prospect open to talking about the competition? Some customers are secretive about their selection process and won’t talk about the competition during the sales cycle; others are an open book. If they are willing to talk, going last is a good choice because you can get the dirt on what your competition blew.
  • Are they using a rating scale? If the prospect is using a rating scale (”rate the vendor’s functionality for x on a scale of 1-10″) you should go last because the natural tendency is to rate more conservatively early in the game. How likely is someone to give you a 10 when they know there are five more vendors they will need to score afterwards?
  • Do you need more time? If you need more time, go last because being prepared will trump any of the other factors.
  • Are all the vendor sessions in one day? If they are having all the sessions in one day, you probably don’t want to be last; 2 p.m. is typically the worst time of day to present because it is the natural low in people’s daily cycles.
  • Is your product better than the competition? If not, you should go first because throwing around FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) is probably going to be a big part of your strategy.
  • Are there LOTS of other vendors? If there are more than three other vendors, going last is probably a wise move because of information overload. Going last will keep your product in their short-term memory during discussions and, if you do well, they might ascribe qualities to you that were actually brought up by your competition.

Of course, deciding where in the lineup your presentation or demo will fall is not nearly as import as doing a great job during the sales cycle. But every little edge helps.

Body Language Advice for Sales Professionals

Mike Stankus, CEO/Founder of STM 360 recently posted an article in his LinkedIn group that caused quite a stir. The article, originally published in Forbes, provides instruction to women on how to avoid common body language mistakes that might suggest submissiveness, insecurity, or sexual attraction. Many found this article to be outdated and insulting.

Mike decided to contact world-renowned body language expert Nicholas J. Fiore Esquire to get his insights on this controversial topic. Read the interview here.

What is your opinion on this topic? How much is body language a factor in your daily professional interactions?

It’s OK to Be Boss—and Why

Since 1993, management expert, Bruce Tulgan, has studied the experience of thousands of managers at all levels in a wide range of industries through workplace interviews, focus groups, polls, questionnaires, and intensive seminars. His research confirms that across today’s workplace there is a shocking and profound lack of daily guidance, direction, feedback, and support for employees from those who are their immediate supervisors. This is what he calls the “under-management epidemic.”

Here are eight steps he has taught to some 30,000 managers in about the last five years to help them get “back to the basics.”

How to Be a Real Competitor

Selling is not easy, even in the best of times. In a downturn, the sales force still has to write orders just to keep the doors open.

You have to use your time wisely, use available technology tools and software. You need to be creative, listen, work hard, have role models, be a self-starter, set goals, plan, be passionate, personable and persuasive, use proper body language and not procrastinate.

Business Motivational Speaker Harvey Mackay shares the things you need to understand to be a real competitor.

What not to do in your job interview

Interviews can be stressful, especially if you’ve gone through a number of them with nothing to show for the time spent.

We can all be quick to place blame on the “other” party, but more often than not the reason someone has endured a significant number of interviews without a positive response lies with the interviewee – not the interviewer.

If this is happening to you, it’s time to take a closer look at the first impression you’re making:

  • Are you wearing a Mickey Mouse tie or other “cutesy” attire?
  • Are you wearing properly fitting clothes that are appropriate for your body type?
  • Are you smoking before the interview?
  • If you have a beard or moustache, is it clean and neatly trimmed?
  • Does your perfume announce your arrival even before you enter the office?
  • Do you talk too much and listen too little?
  • Do you come across as arrogant, superficial or desperate?
  • Do you follow up way too much?

If you answered yes to anything on this list, you may be your own worst enemy when it comes to interviewing.

Personal quirks aside, an employer wants to know that they will be able to put you in front of the customers. For that reason, each interview you go on should be viewed as a sale—with you as the product. If you cannot sell yourself to a potential employer, how will you be able to sell to their customers?

Whether you are being interviewed over the phone or face to face, the interviewer is trying to decide if you will do the right thing with a customer. That is why it is important to convey that you are a trustworthy professional who will treat their clients with dignity and respect.

Dress neatly and professionally. Skip the perfume and lay off the cigarettes until after the interview.

Don’t over-embellish your qualifications and positive traits. Always respond to questions with honest answers. This may mean that your answer is only a sentence or two instead of a long-winded conversation, and that’s okay.

Let the interviewer speak and take the time to listen to what they are saying before responding. Don’t be afraid of silence during an interview. There are many reasons for it—one of which may be that the interviewer is jotting down positive notes about you.

The key is to make sure you’re not giving the interviewer any reason to eliminate you from consideration before you’ve had a chance to demonstrate the value you will bring to the organization.

Need help finding your perfect job? Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search now offers Professional Resume Services and Job Search and Interview Coaching, two premium services that help you tailor your resume and ace your interviews, bringing you a few steps closer to the job of your dreams.

Twitter is not for selling – it’s for listening

According to Donal Daly, Twitter is the most immediate source of happenings on the planet.  Where other internet presences might be like attending a lecture (an interactive one) or browsing a store, or conducting commerce in a one-to-one transaction, Twitter is more like the cocktail party or networking event.  Here you garner snippets, factoids, gossip and rumor, that yes, you can interact with, but all the time you should remember that Twitter’s not the place to sell.

And that’s the challenge for sales people with Twitter.