Presenting on Your Home Court

By Heather Baldwin

How many times have you sat in your car on the way to give a presentation at a client’s office and wished sales protocol dictated that customers come to you? No doubt you dismissed the thought as selfish and unreasonable, but getting clients to come to you can be a win-win situation, says Robert Shook, author of Hardball Selling (Sourcebooks, Inc., 2003). Shook recommends you aim to bring one or two customers to your offices each week and, over time, increase that number to one a day. To ensure your home-turf presentations are a success, he offers the following suggestions.

Give the customer a solid reason to come. Show clients something they would not have been able to see had you come to them, such as a tour of your manufacturing operation or a demonstration of a machine they’re considering that’s too big to bring to their site for a demo. Or, perhaps by coming to you clients can see your complete range of products in a showroom, rather than you bringing just a couple samples to their office. Whatever the enticement, clients need to leave feeling the visit to your location was worth the trek.

Sell the team. When you visit clients’ offices, you represent your company solo. But when clients come to you, they see your whole team in action and get a much better feel for the company with which they may do business. Use that to your advantage. Ensure that everyone who might have contact with your clients knows they’ll be visiting and are prepared to treat them with the utmost respect, displaying nothing but absolute professionalism. Show your clients that they’re not just buying your product, but an entire competent, professional support structure behind it.

Control the interruptions. In prospects’ offices, they decide what interruptions are permissible during a sales presentation. In your office you have the authority to eliminate distractions. Just make sure you do so. Refusing to take a phone call or receive other visitors while your clients are there communicates respect for their time and makes them feel important – a key ingredient to making the sale.

Be on time. This may seem like a no-brainer but it is so critical when clients come to you that Shook feels it needs to be said again. A copier sales rep once convinced Shook to drive out to see him for a 1:30 appointment so Shook could physically see all the products available – products that were too big for the sales rep to bring to Shook. Shook arrived on time, but the rep didn’t show up until 1:50, complaining that he had been downstairs in the cafeteria and the service was atrocious. You can guess what happened next. Shook spent $14,000 on a copier the next day – from the rep’s competitor. When you’re late to see customers, they have other things they can be accomplishing, says Shook. But when customers come to you and you’re late, you’re simply wasting their time.