Create Credibility and Belieavability

By: Jim Meisenheimer

It pays to be specific. I believe that statement is true. If it is true, why do so many salespeople pepper their sales presentations with phrases of generalities? There are two primary reasons. One is habit and the other is instinct.

So many people in and out of sales speak in generalities.

It's really hard to pin them down for the details. If speaking in generalities comes so naturally to so many people - it has to be instinctive.

In sales it's tempting to impress new and prospective customers. One of the ways salespeople do this is with their product and service presentations. These presentations often include references to the following:

  • How many products are in your product line?

  • How many years your company has been in business?

  • How many customers you have worked with.

  • How much of your business is repeat business?

  • How much of a discount you're planning to offer to get the business?

  • How much your product improves productivity?

  • How much your product reduces the cost of doing something?

When the time is right to begin talking about yourproducts you'd be a fool not talk about these things. But for some inexplicable reason salespeople usually follow a similar path. Let's review this list and see how salespeople tend to use all of the above during a sales presentation.

  • We have over 20,000 products in our product line.

  • Our Company has been in business more than 30 years.

  • Our customer database includes more than 30,000 customers.

  • Last year more than 50% of our business came from existing customers.

  • Because of the quantity you're buying I'm delighted to offer you a 20% discount.

  • Our product will improve your department's productivity at least 20%.

  • Our product will reduce the operating costs for this project by more than 10%.

Do you notice what all these statements have in common? All of the numbers cited end in a zero. Zeros seldom add credibility. In fact, they detract from it. Salespeople tend to feel more secure when they're not pinned down by the specifics. Generalities make you feel good, but they don't make you sound good.

It takes a great deal of self-discipline and determination to speak with any degree of specificity. Here's an example that has repeated itself many times. Whenever I conduct an on-site sales training program (usually one-half day) I always provide the decision-maker, because he's usually the one who introduces me, with a prepared introduction.

It's exactly what I want him to say and it also takes the pressure off him to improvise something at the last minute.

The last three lines of my introduction are:

  • He has worked with 427 different organizations.

  • Last year 68% of his business was repeat business.

  • Jim Meisenheimer, Inc. has achieved 15 consecutive years of increased sales and profitability.

All the introducer has to do is read the introduction. Here's how the last three lines are often delivered. He has worked with over 400 different organizations. Last year more than 60% of his business was repeat business.

Jim Meisenheimer, Inc. has increased sales every year he's been in business. Ironically, even with a written script the generalities come bubbling to the surface.

Let's try it one more time and see if you can sense the difference.

  • We have 21,973 products in our product line as of July 1st.

  • Our Company has been in business 33.5 years.

  • Our customer database includes 32,877 customers.

  • Last year 57.5% of our business came from existing customers.

  • Because of the quantity you're buying I'm delighted to offer you a savings of $785.34.

  • Our product improved ABC Customer's productivity by 23.6%.

  • Our product reduced the operating costs for XYZ by 12.7%.

Okay, let's wrap it up. Think about these five questions.

  1. Do you want to get someone's attention?

  2. Do you want to create the impression that you've done your homework?

  3. Do you want to build credibility throughout your sales presentation?

  4. Do you want to differentiate yourself from your competition?

  5. Do you want to increase your sales?

You can do all of these things and more if you trade-in your generalities for more specifics. Specifics are more credible and believable than generalities.

Simply stated, you'll become more believable and credible as soon as you become more specific.

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