I try not to make snap judgments. But I do. And apparently so do a lot of other people. Research studies have found that we make several major decisions about another person in those first few seconds. Decisions like: Is this person trustworthy? Successful? Competent? In sales, this can affect everything from how a customer listens to you to whether they decide to work with you or not. So how do you make sure your first impression in sales is helping you – and not hurting you? Actors live and die by first impressions. When auditioning for a role an actor has to quickly stand out in order to get a chance to be heard. In fact, a casting director may stop an actor as quickly as 20 seconds into a reading if they’re not impressed. While a customer may not physically stop you, they can mentally check out or bide Read More
It can be disappointing to receive a small part of a customer’s business when you are hoping for the lead role. Winning larger deals gets a lot of focus in sales, but sometimes large deals are hidden in small packages. Savvy actors often parlay a small or one-time roll into a bigger or recurring role. For example, Kelsey Grammer was initially cast in just six episodes of Cheers. He gave such a memorable performance he went on to star in the wildly popular spin-off, Frasier. Remember Chandler Bing’s” annoying girlfriend on Friends, “Janice,” (played by the delightfully nasal Maggie Wheeler)? Initially cast in just a single episode, she went on to appear in 19 episodes over 10 seasons! There is no such thing as a “small” part No matter how small the part, a good actor makes the most of it. So instead of mumbling about the unfairness of it all and turning in a Read More
Stories are a powerful selling tool, but rarely is one story right for every situation or customer. To be successful in a dynamic marketplace, there are 5 types of stories every salesperson should be prepared to tell in a pitch or presentation. Here is a brief description, example and tips on where and when to use each type of story: 1. Your Organization Story This is your company’s unique origin story, shedding light on the problem you solve and why. A compelling, succinct founding story can humanize your company and offer a fresh perspective into your values and purpose. Tips: Keep it under a minute. Company stories are inherently less engaging than other types of stories so keep it tight by picking one story line and highlighting a few key details. Don’t lead with your organization story. Your opening should be focused on your customer (like the other 4 types Read More
Delivering an Oscar-worthy performance is one-thing, but what about an Oscar-worthy presentation? Each year I hand out (not literally) awards for the Oscars Best and Worst Presentations in a variety of categories, along with some helpful tips for us less famous presenters. Here are my top awards from this year’s Academy Awards. See if you agree. The Oscars’ Best and Worst Presentation Awards from the 2018 Oscars Best Acceptance Speech (TIE) Frances McDormand, Best Actress Jordan Peele, Best Original Script If there was any doubt Frances McDormand’s speech was going to be standard fare, that was quickly dispelled with “I’ve got a few things to say” opening. McDormand was passionate and expressive in words, face, and body. Even so, she was able to channel her big personality and excitement enough to deliver a powerful message of change – along with specific instructions! While Jordan Peele’s style was certainly more contained Read More
You finally get that presentation or meeting set with your dream account. You arrive at their office pumped up and ready to knock your presentation out of the park! But of course you have to wait…and wait….And with each passing minute you can feel that positive energy slip into anxiety and tension. Before you know it, your mind begins to wander, you’re second guessing your entire presentation, kicking yourself for not practicing more, or searching for distractions on your phone. Presentation nerves claim another victim. Regardless of whether you’re sitting in a reception area or waiting for customers to join you for an online meeting, presentation nerves can rob you of positive energy and necessary focus. When you finally do get to your presentation, you feel awkward and uncertain. And depending on your default “Fight or Flight” response, you either race or slog through it detached from your audience and Read More
I hear a lot of advice a long the lines of “just be confident!” from sales coaches. But I think most salespeople know that confidence is important in sales. The question is – how do you gain confidence? And if you’re not confident, does that mean you don’t belong in sales?
I think it’s a myth that great salespeople are always confident. I think they may know how to get themselves into a state of confidence, or they have the courage to persevere even when they don’t feel confident and trust that the confidence will come.
Sometimes, let’s face it, you’re having a bad day, you had a fight with your spouse, you lost a deal. Sometimes, you simply can’t think your way into greater confidence. For those times, I want to share with you a really practical technique I learned as an actor.
It’s called Acting as if. And it works like this. Next time you’re feeling really confident, notice what that looks like and sounds like for you. Maybe you stand taller, gesture more, speak louder, or hold eye contact longer.
Then when you have to get on that call or give a presentation when you’re not feeling 100% confident, apply these confident behaviors as you’re practicing. Push through even when it feels awkward and uncomfortable and maintain those confident behaviors in your meeting. In other words, act as if you have great confidence. 9 times out of 10 you’ll find that pretty quickly you are actually feeling confident and good. It’s much like forcing yourself to smile can make you feel happier.
So go out there and show confidence, and if you can’t, act as if until the real deal kicks in.
Many presenters share the actor’s nightmare of being in front of an audience and not knowing their lines. I lived that nightmare early in my sales career. A Presenter’s nightmare As a new salesperson I was excited when I received a last-minute opportunity to present to an important prospect. Although I didn’t know the product well or have much preparation time, I felt confident. After all, everything I needed was on my slides! I arrived at the prospect’s office, introduced myself, clicked on my PowerPoint and…nothing happened. I clicked, rebooted, prayed. Still nothing. Soon my audience was chiming in with suggestions, all to no avail. (Now mind you, this was before flash drives and the ability to email large files easily.) I decided to forge ahead – sans-slides – since I knew it would be difficult to get this same group of people together any time soon. I wish I Read More
Your marketing department just invested a lot of time and money creating a dazzling new presentation for the sales team. So why, three months later, is no one using it?! Here are just a few of the reasons I hear from salespeople: “There’s too much information in it. It’s not my style. It’s already out of date. I can never find what I need…” While there’s some validity to these claims, when salespeople “go rogue,” (i.e., use a hodgepodge of content or throw out the presentation all together), key messages get lost, and quality and accuracy suffer – along with the customer and the opportunity. Sales or Marketing? Who is responsible? Despite all the talk of the disconnect between sales and marketing, both share a common goal: communicating the value of your solution in a way that drives the customer to take action. And sales and marketing also both play Read More
Customer success stories or testimonials can be one of your strongest selling tools. The right success story delivered at the right time can be more persuasive to a prospect than anything you, the salesperson, has to say. A customer who has experienced a similar situation, challenge, or goal has much more credibility with a prospect, especially initially. But too many customer success stories fall on deaf ears (or no ears!) simply because little thought or planning was put in to how and when to deliver them most effectively. Here are 5 ways to make a Bigger Impact with Customer Success Stories: Lead with your story The first minute of your presentation is prime real estate. Prospects are most attentive in the beginning and they’re forming opinions. Yet most presenters squander this valuable real estate by talking about themselves or their company. Success stories and testimonials get buried either somewhere in Read More
It’s 2018, and by rough count, I’ve sat through a thousand sales presentations. Most of them have blurred together in my mind. What stands out? The exceptionally good ones…or the cringingly bad ones. Your prospect may not have seen quite as many as me, but they likely struggle to recall most of them as well. Why does this matter? Boring, forgettable presentations are unsuccessful presentations. Why are today’s presentations so forgettable? In a day and age where we know so much about our prospects, from their interests and dislikes, to their challenges and goals, it seems surprising that most presentations are still so ineffective. Part of the problem is that most salespeople today are still following a presentation structure that has been around since the seventies (even though many of today’s prospects were not even alive in the seventies!) This dated, ineffective structure includes too many elements that are unnecessary, Read More