(This is a guest article by Dan Westervelt)
There are many reasons why golf fund raising events fail, but without this one element being present, the chances of survival are almost nil. It is the reason why sponsors decide to support, golfers decide to play and volunteers decide they want to serve your cause. In a word, it is relationships.
The three main components of the human side of a tournament are golfers, sponsors and volunteers. All three are readily available to you if you have a relationship and it is strong enough to justify their participation. Obviously a close friendship is the best but a consistent trade association between a client and vendor are of about the same weight.
As with any relationship, it must be respected, so approach this solicitation as though you were asking permission to do something beneficial for a family member. While you need to be sure to have all the reasons ‘why’ addressed, spend even more time getting ready for the ‘why not’s?’.
Listen carefully to all the objections you hear. These are really just road maps to where you’d like the conversation to end, that is a “yes, I’ll do it”. These are the hesitations, stalls and questions you must address successfully to get them there. In my view, they are the most important part of the sales conversation as they determine both the tone and content of your reply as well as the overall result.
Sales 101 tells you to listen actively and repeat the question you have just heard back to the other side in your own words. This demonstrates that:
1. you really do want to understand and address these things
2. you want confirmation of the details
3. you are giving the other side the chance to fine tune your understanding of what’s holding them back.
The first two of these demonstrate a sincere interest on your part while the third allows the client to rethink the objection. Curiously, the third part also tells you which if any of the objections are just a knee jerk reaction. It is the one that is omitted if there are two or more initial objections expressed.
It seems that once you have gone through this it is time to start answering, but it is actually the time to hesitate and allow the power of the pause to work its magic. Pauses are a very powerful persuasion tool because they allow you time to think of an appropriate answer and also forces the client to reconsider their objection, typically weakening them.
As you answer, you must watch for non-verbal buy signs. These are a steady gaze, unfolded arms or hands flat on the table, preferably palms up, just not clenched or knotted. Why ?
Because these are all signs of being open and interested in what you have to say. While you are waiting and watching your hands should be steepled, i.e. folded into a steeple shape in front of you on the desk, pointing directly at the client’s belly button.
Steepled hands are the most powerful presentation posture you can adopt with your hands during a sales conversation. It is non-verbally telling the client they have our full attention as well as complete control. It may also be a good idea to stop and ask for a reevaluation by asking: “Does this address your concern? Do you need more information on that point.”
The next point is to have some alternatives ready for the flat ‘no’ that you will likely get these days. The flat ‘no’ is a function of the downturned economy so have some other ideas ready such as co-sponsorship or joint venture donations from their suppliers. Being flexible in what you are asking and creative with an idea to keeping them involved at a lower level of commitment are two important drop back positions to have ready.
Again, let silence do its work and if no more objections are mentioned then ask for the sale, which in this case is their participation to the event. By treating this like a regular professional sales call in terms of your preparation, you will convey the idea that this is a professional event and one they will want to be a part of either with sponsor donations, money or volunteer efforts.
The best part of making this type of presentation is that you know this person already and chances are they will be watching it for signs of real passion from you. Everyone knows that excitement and passion are contagious and by showing this, you are guaranteed the best result possible.
Remember that it is not personal even if you are turned down. It may just be that this particular person cannot afford to help you this time. With that in mind, leave on a positive note and ask if they can help refer you to anyone they might know who could participate. This type of referral is the strongest recommendation you can have walking into a stranger’s door, so don’t forget to ask for it as you thank these people and leave.
Dan Westervelt is a recognized speaker and an expert on advanced selling he is the author of 4 books and numerous published articles on advanced selling techniques. He currently serves as Vice President of GTS Wholesale. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Sports Marketing and Promotion at the National University Golf Academy at Carlsbad CA. Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 949-888-0066.