Better Results from Sales Role Play. Part 1: Set the Stage


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I received a panicked call from a salesperson last week.  Carol’s annual sales meeting was fast approaching and she and her fellow sellers were asked to participate in a day of role-playing with management.  While promoted as a “learning experience,” Carol knew better; this was a test.  Carol and her team would be judged on their ability to successfully articulate the company’s value proposition, highlight benefits, handle objections and ask for the business—all within an artificial, high-pressure scenario. A learning experience?  Yes.  Learning to hate role-playing! Under these circumstances, Carol will likely summon up all of her acting experience (dating back to the 3rd grade class play), and put on a role that she thinks is expected of her.  A role of what she thinks the perfect salesperson might look and act like.  A role that has little or no resemblance to Carol on an actual sales call. Don’t get Read More

Make Your Presentation Memorable with Props


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According to Toastmasters, listeners only retain 10% of what they’ve heard one week later.  This percentage increases to 67% when visual aids are added to the equation. This is a strong message to sellers that if you want a prospect to remember your sales presentation, demo or conversation, adding a visual or sensory component can be extremely valuable in increasing your prospect’s retention of your message. Here are some quick tips on how you can use props effectively during sales presentations: A Prop should support your message:   Think of Wilson, the soccer ball in the movie Castaway.  The movie wasn’t about Wilson, but it furthered the story.  Similarly, your presentation should not be about the prop, but the prop should help add to the story. Choose a prop that’s relevant to your message. The first thing sellers think of when I say  visual support is PowerPoint.  Yes, it counts, but when Read More

Find Your Inner Zombie: Sales Advice from The Walking Dead


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It’s not easy to become a zombie.  Every year thousands of people audition for a chance to play a zombie on TV’s hit series, The Walking Dead.  Once they make it through the initial casting process they are enrolled in “zombie” school (yes, it’s a real thing) where they will learn what it takes to play the undead and make a chance at the final cut.  One of the director’s told the wannabe-zombies to avoid doing the same old arms out in front, stereotypical Frankenstein-type zombie.  In other words, don’t just copy what everyone else is doing, make something your own.  His final words of advice: “You have to find your inner zombie.” In a similar fashion, when you’re competing for a coveted piece of business from a variety of vendors, you can’t go in and do the same thing everyone else does or simply copy a brilliant presentation that Read More

An Actor’s Secret for Getting in a Selling State of Mind


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“I’ve always considered myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation.” Will Smith It’s no secret that a focused and positive mindset in sales creates focused and positive results. Learning how to let go of negativity and get in an ideal state of mind greatly increases your potential for getting appointments, negotiating and closing business—and it feels a heck of a lot better!  But just how do you do it — especially when you’re having one of those days?  You know the days I’m talking about: you left your phone on the train, spilled coffee on your new shirt or banged up the car pulling out of the garage.  It happens to all of us.  Especially on those days, it’s critical that you take a few minutes to get your mind focused and clear. Here are some quick tips Read More

How to apply the Challenger Sale…when you’re not a challenger


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“I don’t accept the status quo. I do accept Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.” Stephen Colbert I’m a fan of The Challenger Sale – despite the fact that the book came out the same year as mine (2011) and promptly soared past me. If you’re not familiar with the book or the premise, authors Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson identified 5 types of sellers: The Relationship-Builder, The Hard Worker, The Lone Wolf, The Reactive Problem Solver and, of course, The Challenger. I’m not giving anything away when I tell you that they believe Challengers to be uniquely poised for success in today’s marketplace. Why? Because Challengers enter each business opportunity with a deep understanding of their client’s business, tailor messaging to each role and are not afraid to question, yes, even challenge a customer’s beliefs. All of which makes sense especially when many of us work with customers who are Read More

Screenwriting Tips for Sellers: 5 Elements you Must Have to Move a Prospect to Action


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Like a well-crafted movie or television show, a successful salesperson must grab a prospect’s attention, pique their interest and establish an emotional connection in order to move them to action.  Screenwriters know that there are 5 dramatic elements that must be present in order to engage and move audiences.  Make sure you can identify these 5 dramatic elements in your own sales conversations or presentations if you want to engage and move today’s busy prospects as well: 1. Interest We’ve all met the prospect who lets us get through our entire presentation, only to announce “I’m not really looking for anything right now,” or “My business is just fine as it is.” Have we met the one person in the world who has no needs or desires? I doubt it.  Even where nothing seems to be at stake, like Seinfeld (the “show about nothing”) the characters are obsessed with any Read More

How to Own the Sales Stage with your Presentation or Demo


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“Work is theater and every business a stage.”  The Experience Economy, Gilmore and Pine. Whether your stage is a computer screen or a conference room, if you can’t earn and hold your prospect’s attention with complete conviction and confidence, you are not likely to move them to action or close many sales. As an actor I learned techniques that helped me “own the stage.”  As a salesperson I’ve found these techniques equally valuable and rarely if ever addressed in other presentation courses.  Here are a few that you should be familiar with if you want to move your audience with your sales presentation or demonstration:  Bigger is not always better When I ask salespeople to “own the stage,” their first attempt is often to simply increase their volume and make bigger gestures and movements.  While this may work (especially if your natural state is more subdued and you need to Read More

Take me to your leader. Enlisting the help of gatekeepers to get in front of decision-makers


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The odds of reaching a decision-maker on your first attempt can be greater than hitting the winning lottery numbers. Chances are you will either 1) end up in voice mail, or 2) speak to someone who will politely inform you that the decision-maker is unavailable but will take a message for them – or put you directly into their voice mail.  If your knee jerk reaction is to opt for going directly to voice mail, slow down. You may be missing a prime opportunity to improve your odds of getting in front of them by rushing past the gatekeeper. Don’t shoot the Gatekeeper! Although it may seem like the gatekeeper’s primary job is to keep you out, they can be your ally. If­ you learn how to enlist their help. It’s important to recognize that the gatekeeper plays an important role in an organization by helping the executive focus on Read More

How to Break Out of “Presenter Mode”


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                                                                                                                  Illustration courtesy of 24Slides.com In business, most people (and salespeople are no exception) don’t speak with as much energy or personality as they do in their personal lives. They tend to flatten or smooth things out and tamp down the good and the bad news alike. Telling a prospect you’re going to save them a million dollars is delivered with the same enthusiasm as telling them they can get their parking validated. Sometimes I can actually see the switch flip off on otherwise perfectly engaging salespeople as their tone and manner shift into something more suitable for NPR. Why is this a problem? Operating in what I call “presenter mode” eliminates valuable opportunities to engage and connect with your audience. It puts you at risk for sounding like everyone else and having your message blurred as well. How do you break out of presenter mode? Here are Read More