The 1 Improv Technique Salespeople Must Know


the 1 improv technique

You can prepare for a customer meeting until you’re blue in the face, but eventually you will be confronted with something you did not anticipate. Whether it’s a change in the customer’s priorities, personnel, or timing, unanticipated questions or objections, the unexpected can bring the conversation – and the sale — to a screeching halt. Fortunately, the wonderful art of Improv offers many techniques for dealing with the unknown that are as effective on stage as they are in real life.  In my book, “Yes and” is the 1 improv technique salespeople must know in order to successfully navigate any unanticipated customer comment or situation. “Yes and” is the foundation of all good improv scenes.  Just as its name implies, “Yes and” is about saying yes to your customer, but it’s also about making your customer feel heard, building trust, collaborating on a solution, and moving the conversation forward. The Read More

What My Sex and the City Audition taught me about Sales (and Winning Competitive Deals)


It never occurred to me how much an audition and a sales call had in common, until I auditioned for one of HBO’s first mega-hits, Sex and the City. As a single woman in New York, Sex and the City was required viewing. Your friends, your co-workers, your customers, everyone you knew would be glued to the TV on Sunday night for Carrie Bradshaw & Company’s latest adventures.  Missing an episode left you unable to participate in the week’s discourse on trends like Cosmopolitans and Manolo Blahnik’s – not to mention the show’s often provocative subject matter. Because of Sex and the City’s popularity, getting a chance to audition for the show was akin to winning the Golden Ticket.  So when I saw they were holding an open casting call I put on my best party dress and heels and headed downtown.  Exiting the subway I stopped in my tracks.  Read More

The Power of Show and Tell:  3 Ways to use Props in your Sales Presentation or Pitch


Show and tell

For many of us, bringing a pet, a favorite toy or even person to school for show and tell was our earliest experience using a prop.  Why didn’t the teacher just have us tell a story?  Because teachers know that a verbal story alone is not enough to hold the attention of a room full of children. While your prospects are likely a bit older, show and tell is still one of the most powerful ways to gain an audience’s attention and improve recall. 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. I’ve seen a lot of presenters use props, some successful, and some…not so much.  Using a prop simply to grab attention at any cost is a cheap trick that often backfires in a presenter’s face.  Like anything in a Read More

Don’t Let Your Presentation Tools Steal your Spotlight…and your Audience!


presentation tools

I love new technology. Especially presentation tools that make connecting with an audience more effective and impactful. That’s why I was excited to try the new Logitech Spotlight remote. Like most presentation remotes, the Spotlight allows you to advance your slides and go to black without being tethered to your laptop. It can even control the volume, which is super handy if you’ve ever started a video and had to race back to your computer to stop it from blowing everyone’s ear drums away! But the real showstopper on the Spotlight is a feature that allows you to magnify or highlight a circular selection on your screen while shading the rest of the slide. And it doesn’t just work on slides. You can even use it on word, excel or other software. Here’s an example of a screen in typical presentation mode: And here’s an example of that same screen Read More

50 Ways to Blow a Great Presentation


bad presenter

So many ways to blow a great presentation…and so little time.  You likely work hard to get the opportunity to present to a prospect, so why risk blowing it on one (or more) highly preventable mistakes? Here’s my Top 50 ways to blow a great presentation.  Check off which ones you’re guilty of – if you dare! Spend a lot of time “chatting” with your prospect in the beginning to get comfortable. Talk about yourself or your company right away. Take your time getting to the value you bring your customer. Don’t confirm who will be in the audience. If you find out anything’s changed before you start, just forge ahead with what you planned, regardless of whether it’s still relevant. Don’t practice. You don’t want to be phony!! And be sure and tell your audience you didn’t have as much time to prepare as you’d like. Don’t plan out Read More

5 Fake Facts Killing your Sales Presentation


Do you believe that we only use 10% of our brains?  If so, you’ve bought into a fake fact. While some fake facts are harmless, others like, “The flu vaccination can give you the flu” can produce devastating consequences. I’ve run across several fake facts about sales presentations over the years:  New techniques hailed as “the latest, greatest idea.” Old wives’ tales passed down from generation to generation. Blindly followed, some of these “facts” can create real damage to your credibility and even derail your entire presentation. 5 Fake Facts Killing your Sales Presentation 1:  Follow the 18-minute Ted Talk Rule. The 18-minute rule was based on one neuroscience study and Ted Talk curator Chris Anderson’s opinion that 18-minutes is “short enough to hold people’s attention…and precise enough to be taken seriously.” Sorry, but there is nothing magical about 18-minutes.  Even presentation guru Carmine Gallo (who once suggested all business Read More

Top 10 Sales Blogs for 2018


Top 10 sales blogs

If your 2018 was as busy as mine, you may have missed the posts readers found most valuable, so I’ve compiled my Top 10 Sales Blog Posts of the year for you here. (Note:  The first post won “First Place for Top Sales Content” in Sales Pro Central’s 2018 MVP Awards.) Read the winning article and catch up on all 10 of the most popular posts of 2018 below. Cheers! Julie 5 Ways to Make a BIGGER IMPACT with Customer Success Stories in Your Presentation: Five Ways to Shake up your Presentation You Don’t Have to Memorize Your Entire Presentation – Just These 5 Things 5 Stories Every Salesperson Should be Prepared to Tell Are These Words Sabotaging your Presentation? 3 Buddhist Principles for Fearless Presentations Pitch Perfect: 25 Tips for Pitching over the Phone: Deadpool Shows you How to be a Superhero in your Presentation Stop Repeating These 3 Read More

How Toastmasters almost ruined my presentation


Toastmasters

This may offend some Toastmasters out there, but Toastmasters almost ruined my presentation.  And it could ruin yours too.  Now before you send the Grand Toastmaster after me, hear me out. I was a card-carrying member of Toastmasters for over a year and value much of that experience.  I joined prior to launching my first book as I needed a live (and captive) audience to practice new material on.  My fellow Toastmasters and I would give each other our undivided attention and feedback. While the feedback could vary greatly, I looked for consistent themes that resonated with me. Some of that feedback even helped shape a presentation I still use today. So how did Toastmasters almost ruin my presentation? Toastmasters encourages a dramatized style of speaking that Toastmaster and former club president Al Pittampalli calls “unsuitable for most real-world contexts.” (You can read his article, “Toastmasters has a problem it Read More

A “Scary” Sales Tip from Zombie School


The Walking Dead

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. To stand out from the competition, the director at The Walking Dead’s Zombie School gave the wannabe-zombies some important direction:  Avoid doing the same old arms out in front, stereotypical Frankenstein-type zombie. 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.” Whether you’re competing for a role in a hit TV show or a role in your prospect’s business, doing the same thing as everyone else is not a Read More

Stop repeating these 3 things in your presentation. Stop repeating these 3 things in your…


Repetition can be a very effective way to make sure your key ideas are heard and remembered by your prospect.  It’s often helpful to repeat benefits, competitive differentiators, even the customer’s questions or words.  So how can repetition possibly hurt you in sales? Human beings are quick to pick up on patterns. It allows us to sort and select what we give our attention to.  Because of its power, unconsciously used, repetitive behaviors, words or phrases can overshadow and detract from even the most brilliant of presentations or pitches.  For example: John continually asks, “Does that make sense?” after each point. By the 4th time, his audience is mildly annoyed and starting to keep a tally in their head. Like a song played entirely on the note of C, Mark delivers every word of his presentation at the same level. Like the teacher in Charlie Brown, all his audience hears Read More

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