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Selling to a group?

If your salespeople are making a presentation to a group, they must conduct a dry run or practice of the presentation ahead of time. A dry run is a more elaborate version of the planning meeting held by a selling team. In addition to the members of the selling team, you (the sales manager) and other salespeople should attend the dry run to act as a coach and audience.

A dry run serves many purposes. The first is to ensure that all the people involved in the presentation know:

• The account history, including who the competition is.
• The make-up of the group, including politics, role (economic buyer, user, etc.), persuasion (for or against your product), stake in the decision, issues, etc.
• The agenda for the presentation.
• Their role at the presentation.
• The team's strategy for the presentation.

In addition, a dry run gives each person involved a chance to walk through his or her part of the presentation, complete with any handouts or demonstrations. This helps them get comfortable with their material and gain confidence in their ability to perform. It allows the team to critique each part of the presentation and make changes to ensure that it is consistent and concise. For example, they can help the technical expert focus his or her presentation to the specific issues of concern for the prospect or explain them in less technical terms.

The dry run also gives team members a chance to fine-tune their strategy for a meeting. They should discuss how to draw out each group member, identify and address the competition's "white knights" (those who support the competition over your company). They may also want to assign members of the selling team to "cover" individual group members. Of particular importance, the selling team should take this time to be sure the presentation touches on each of the buyer's pains and identifies the key competitive issues.

Timing is a critical element of your presentation. You don't want to exceed the time contract made with the buyer team unless it is done to accommodate their questions. The dry run enables your team to craft the program so that it covers that necessary information persuasively and allows time for the questions and discussion that are likely to arise.

A good rule of thumb is to assume that at least a third of your allotted time will be spent in discussion, usually scattered throughout the period. The audience will never complain about a shorter presentation, as long as it hits the high points.

Schedule a dry run for a couple of days before the actual presentation - close enough to the date itself to allow people to prepare for it and retain its lessons. It should occur long enough before the presentation to give the team time to revise and revamp their presentation, if necessary.
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Gary Harvey

Gary Harvey is the founder and president of Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a high performance sales training, coaching and development company for sales professionals, managers and business owners. His firm is consistently rated by the Sandler Training as one of the top 10 training centers in the world. He can be reached at 303-741-5200, or gary.harvey@sandler.com.


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