The Art of Presales

Along with growing digitalization, the Clients' expectations as to the form of proposed IT or Ecommerce solutions also grow.  So, how to stand out from the competition and make the best impression on the Client? How to be innovative? What should a perfect presentation for a customer look like to meet these expectations? These questions require companies to improve the quality of their presales engine. In addition, we need to take a look at the internal predispositions it takes to make a great pre-salesman and the various techniques such as Storytelling or White boarding used to help us achieve our goals.

Why are presales activities so important?
Distinct from marketing and sales operations, presales provides a specific set of activities that lead to qualifying, bidding on, winning, and renewing deals. Presales require a dedicated team of experts usually split into roughly two-thirds assigned to the technical activities (crafting solutions for the customers’ problems) and one-third for commercial activities (managing deals, qualifications and bids).
Without Presale:

  1. The sale will not have sufficient technical expertise to provide a solution
  2. Vendors (Developers) may not have the ability to match the Clients' business needs with an appropriate technical solution
  3. Both teams may have limited bandwidth to take full responsibility

What is actually presales?
The presales process is important for finding, winning, and keeping customers. The job of the presales department begins when the first contact is made with a new prospect and usually ends once the sale is acquired. Occasionally, presales would provide transitional help once the sale has been finalized.

Modern presale techniques
Once technology allowed the use of digital presentation, tables, chards and static slides, they became very common in presales and sales activities. But nowadays, in the 21st century, that does not impress anybody anymore. People do not get involved in the viewing of slides. They get bored easily and stop listening, and once they lack attention, how do you expect to convince them that your product will solve their problems? So, what else can we do? White boarding and Storytelling is the answer!

What is White boarding?
White boarding is a very efficient selling mechanism because it is dynamic, flexible, engaging, interactive and easy to digest. As a result, you can be more persuasive and your customer is more receptive. Compared to a classical PowerPoint sales presentation, whiteboards help you position yourself to tell a story that makes complex concepts simple and persuade more effectively where facts otherwise can’t. It helps your audience retain information through mental images and evoke emotions that encourage interaction.

TOP 5 tips for a good whiteboard presentation
1.    Make it about them – their picture, their story, so they can tell it themselves
2.   Simple icons & words (thinking without art)
3.   Reveal it slowly, stop and ask whether they are interested
4.   One page, nothing erased, always finish with agreed actions
5.   Photo / send it as a summary of the meeting to ALL parties (yours and theirs)

What is Storytelling?
Storytelling is the key communication skill of the 21st century. Storytelling is a sales technique based on telling a story that has a logical sequence from problem to solution.
People do not trust, do not listen, do not believe, do not get involved or do not remember - unless you talk about it. Storytelling is a way to build a bridge of understanding and to reach people expressing their sensitivity. We trust and buy the most from someone who does not try to sell us anything. People isolate themselves at the first sign of persuasion. It's best to hide sales in another message. Sales in the context of history do not provoke a defensive reaction. When we talk, the Client thinks: It's just a story. I listen to be entertained. We get a lot of attention when we talk about someone who may have had a similar problem. The Client thinks: “That could be me?” We make him aware of the need and speed up the decision.
To tell the story effectively, you need to know and engage your audience and make it personal. The perfect story has to be understandable, emotional and memorable. It is about them, not us. Businesses do things for personal reasons, not ours or yours.
Main features of storytelling:
• focuses on the listener's attention
• allows the listener/viewer to engage, not only to passively listen
• stimulates the brain areas of the listener responsible for creative thinking, which results in better absorption of the transmitted content

Neuromarketing is the key
Why is storytelling so effective? The real secret behind it is the modern approach called neuromarketing that leverages psychophysical research. So, what exactly is neuromarketing? Neuromarketing is to learn about making decisions.
Paul McLean, an American neuroscientist, created a theory of triple brain evolution that says that the human brain is basically three brains in one:

  1. Neocortex - responsible for learning and logical thinking. It’s our rational brain.
  2. The limbic system - responsible for emotions. It’s our emotional brain.
  3. Reptilian brain - responsible for instincts, fundamental life functions, or survival, hunger and, consequently, for fear. It’s our instinctive brain.

The idea of neuromarketing indicates that the Client uses instincts for making decisions in the case of advertising or sales.
Let's focus on the reptilian part of the brain - it's the most important part of the neuromarketing process and for good reason. Research shows that this part reflects on what a given product means to us at the most fundamental level: security, threat, advantage or loss. This is because the reptilian part of the brain is responsible for the most fundamental life functions, such as survival, hunger, breathing, instinctive decisions, and the task of keeping us out of danger. However, what is most interesting is that it is responsible for our decisions as purchasers of services and goods. This is where the "BUY" button is located. It is there that ultimately the decision is made whether we buy something or not, whom we believe and who will meet our disapproval.
Neuromarketing distinguishes 6 stimuli that speak to the old brain:

  1. Self-centered - What kills a deal is being too self-centered about your company and features. People care more about what you can do for them. This stimulus explains why 100 percent of your message as a seller should focus on your audience, not on you. If you take a critical look at your typical presentation, website, or even your brochures, you will find that a lot of content relates to your business, your people, your history, your values, and your mission statement – none of which is of any particular interest to the survival brain of your audience.
  2. Contrast - Contrast allows the old brain to make quick, risk-free decisions. Without it, the old brain enters into a state of confusions leading to delayed decision or no decision at all. Contrast is used in sales to show a stark difference between product offerings or results. This could be implemented in a few ways, such as: Showing you a poor quality product alongside the one that they want you to buy or Showing you a wonderful product that is way beyond your reach (anchoring).
  3. Tangible input - Numbers work for the Rational Brain, but the Reptilian Brain won’t decide based on numbers alone! The ‘Primal Brain’ is constantly scanning for what is familiar and friendly, what can be recognized quickly, what is tangible and immutable. The ‘Primal Brain’ cannot process concepts like “flexible solution”, “integrated approach”, or “scalable architecture” without effort and doubt.
  4. The beginning and the end - The Reptilian Brain forgets most of the information it needs to process. This short attention span has huge implications on how to construct and deliver powerful messages. Placing the most important content at the beginning is a must, and repeating it at the end an imperative. Keep in mind that anything you say in the middle of your delivery will be mostly overlooked.
  5. Visual stimuli - The old brain is visual. You need to disrupt people’s attention, and good visuals do that. Good visual design matters. It’s what creates first impressions, and first impressions are incredibly important.
  6. Emotion - The old Brain is strongly triggered by emotions. Neuroscience has clearly demonstrated that ‘emotional cocktails’ create chemical reactions that directly impact the way we memorize and act. Neuromarketing relies on the use of customer emotions rather than logical thinking. The Clients may forget what you say or do, but they will remember how you make them feel.

The old techniques of presales and presentation are no longer effective. The modern presales activities are concentrated on the Client – how he perceived the messages communicated to him, how he processes you arguments, how he makes decisions. Those techniques are heavily referring to psychology and psychophysical stimulation. That is why they are much more effective than the old, well known static PowerPoint presentations. If you want to make stand out from the crowd, if you want to beat your competition, if you want to succeed you need to adopt modern techniques to perform presales and marketing activities.

Footnotes:
1.    6stimuli


Aleksandra Kupińska

Analyst

aleksandra.kupinska@hycom.pl

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