What Salespeople Can Learn from Rock Stars


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It’s time for you to present your solution to your prospect. You’ve qualified your opportunity, done additional research to uncover a broader base of impact on your prospect’s business with your products and services. You’ve arranged for participation in the presentation by your engineers and sales manager.

There are three segments you will address during your presentation. In simple terms they are Products/Services, Pricing and Support. As you are preparing your materials, you realize you have to make a decision as to the order in which these three sections will be presented.

So in what order do you present Products/Services, Pricing and Support?

In our experience, we find the vast majority of salespeople present Products/Services or Support first, price last. Unfortunately, if you choose that order, you may never make it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Whether you realize it or not, rock concerts are actually big sales presentations. Yes, you can be certain most musicians enjoy performing, but you can be even more certain they love a healthy bank balance as well. Concerts are a way for rock stars to promote the release of their latest work, sell t-shirts/hats/jewelry/posters, and over-priced tickets for the next time they come to your city to perform.

As a result, they are EXTREMELY aware of the content and order of their presentation.

Think about the last Rock concert you attended. Think about the order in which music was presented to the audience. Did the artist begin the show with some dreary, long love ballad no one had ever heard before? Unless you saw Kenny G, probably not. Think back to how the show began. The house lights were dimmed and the crowd reacted with cheers and applause. The stage was flooded with light shown bright by multiple spotlights and laser beams, as machines fill the stage with billows of illuminated fog. Got the picture?

So what does the rock star choose to do with that moment? You got it. They try to knock the audience’s socks off by playing something that will get everyone to their feet. Crank it and rock it. They want to grab you and bring you in to the world of their music.

Towards the middle of the show, once they have your attention, your emotions, your adrenaline and your involvement, they will take the opportunity to play the slow, long love ballads or material you haven’t heard before. They’ve earned that right by blowing you away at the beginning.

What do they do at the end, the finale? You guessed it again. They crank it up a few decibels, start spinning the lights and lasers, put the fog machines in over-drive and play the sure thing, their latest or greatest hit. They want you leaving the show drained, knees weak and shaking, but just strong enough to stop by the merchandise table and buy a CD or anything else with their name or likeness on it.

And yes, there is method to their madness.

What is at play here are two philosophies that have been contemplated and argued since the days of Plato and Aristotle: Primacy and Recency.

The modern day interpretation of Primacy is “First impressions are the lasting impressions.” The modern interpretation of Recency is “What you see last, you remember longest.”

So here is the brilliance of the rock star: they are covered on both ends. Primacy with the big opening, Recency with the bigger close.

So let’s go back to the question I posed to you earlier.

In what order do you present Products/services, Pricing and Support?

That’s right, folks. Here is the conscious decision many salespeople make when determining the order of their presentation: In their opening, they will wow their prospect with the significant power and impact of their Products and services. From there, they will blow them away with their superior support pre and post implementation. And what’s the finale? The spotlights, lasers and fog for a discussion of….PRICE. That’s right, friends, the equivalent of a slow, long love ballad, to close the show. The decision many make is to end the presentation on an emotional low point. And worse yet, Recency submits “What you see last, you remember longest.” Is that REALLY what you want your prospects to leave thinking about, remembering last and longest? Really?

And I don’t even care if you are saving the buyer boatloads of cash. It’s highly unlikely that a discussion of taking money out of the customer’s pocket and putting it into your’s would be the emotional high point of the presentation. Should it be a surprise that salespeople tell me at the end of their presentations that all buyers think about is PRICE, PRICE, PRICE? Duh…

So what have we learned from rock stars?

There IS a logical order to sales presentations that support both philosophies of Primacy and Recency.

To begin, it makes sense to bring your customer into the world of your products and services. You want to grab them with the depth and breadth of the measurable impact your solution will have on what they are trying to accomplish with their business.

What’s next? Well, at that point you have earned the right to take the presentation to the relative emotional low point, a conversation about price. It’s your equivalent of a slow, long love ballad.

So what’s your finale? What do you want them thinking about last and longest? That’s right. It’s your superior support. What they are actually buying is a long-term relationship with you and your company. That’s what you want them remembering last and longest when they leave your “show.”

I’m not telling you if you present in this order you’ll ever be on the cover of Rolling Stone, but there will be a difference in how your customers feel and what they think about as they pass by your (figuratively speaking, of course) merchandise table…

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bob Nicols
Bob Nicols serves as Founder and CEO of AXIOM. He has 34 years of experience in sales, sales management, executive management and sales force development. He has managed and mentored thousands of sales people, sales managers and senior managers and been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. For more than 21 years he has developed and delivered sales programs that have become the standard for many Fortune 100 companies including AT&T, BellSouth, Disney Enterprises, Alltel, Verizon and ESPN.


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