Prep Your Customer
When I first moved to Seattle, I worked for 9 years as a paint contractor. It is amazing the lessons I learned from this field, that I now carry into the field of sales. For example, before anyone can paint, you must plan what colors and textures you would want. You must have a vision of the finished product before you start. Next will come the preparation work. Before you apply a long-lasting, beautiful finish, you must "prep" the surface by washing, spackling, caulking, or priming. The actual painting comes only after you have spent countless hours preparing for it.
In sales, you must have a clear vision of what you do, and where the process will lead us. Much like visualizing how something will look when we have completed applying our finish, you also must have a vision of a quality presentation on the benefits of your service or product.
Preparing our sales presentation requires that you accumulate all of the necessary information, and gather the needs or desires of our prospect. Just like sanding, priming, and spackling insures adhesion of a paint to the surface, your gathered information will bond your presentation and demonstration the prospects' interest. Much time and work will go into this part of the process, and the "glory" part; the actual selling, will have to wait until we are satisfied that we have all of the information.
If all necessary "prep" work is done, and the surface is ready then the finish is applied. Just like painting, the sales process should continue only when the prospects' needs have been completely understood, and you have set the stage for your solution. This will insure a long-lasting, and beautiful relationship with the client, and set you apart from the "average". Now you can tailor your presentation to your client.
So, if you spend a little more time on the prep work (gathering information and building rapport), then your finish (presentation and demonstration) will adhere better, and yield a more desirable outcome.