So you’ve gotten your new deck, perhaps some talking points, or even a full script. You may even have seen another team member deliver the pitch or presentation. Now the challenge you’re facing is not quite the magnitude facing Hamlet, but it can feel quite daunting: To memorize…or not to memorize? Many salespeople tell me they don’t want to memorize their pitch because they want it to be more conversational and fear sounding canned or phony. It’s a common misconception that memorizing lines or too much practice will cause you to sound like you’re performing bad Shakespeare. But if memorization was the cause of bad line readings people wouldn’t shell out millions of dollars to watch actors in film, on television and at the theater. That canned type of delivery you fear has more to do with A) Not investing the time necessary to put the script into your own Read More
Good salespeople ask themselves what they want their prospect to do at the end of their presentation. In other words, what’s the next step to move this sale forward? That could be a signed contract, a meeting, or a recommendation. But great salespeople ask themselves another powerful question that is instrumental in determining whether that prospect will take the next step or not. And that question is this: How do I want my prospect to feel? Think about the last time you made a major purchasing decision. How did you feel before you said “yes?” Were you excited? Convinced? Motivated? Challenged? Those are the feelings that are likely to lead to action. So how does your prospect need to feel to take action? Do they need to feel excited? Then guess what? Your intention needs to be to get them excited! Likewise, if they need to feel motivated, you need Read More
Set aside the violence, the snarky humor and the profanity in Deadpool 2, and look for this surprisingly compelling technique Deadpool uses to connect with the movie-going audience. Those comments the superhero directs straight to you – and not the other actors – is an acting technique called “Breaking the Fourth Wall.” And it can be used for great effect in presentations, meetings, speeches – any time you need to grab your audience’s attention. And you don’t even need super-powers to do it! Breaking the Fourth Wall with your Audience During a performance, an actor typically places an imaginary wall (the Fourth wall) between himself and the audience, going about his business on stage or on camera with the audience acting as passive observers. That distance is fine for drama, but it’s detrimental if you want to move your audience — your prospects — to take action at the end Read More
First Impressions Matter in Sales…and Acting People make several major decisions about another person in the first few seconds. Decisions like: Is this person trustworthy? Successful? Competent? So how do you make sure your first impression with your prospect or audience is helping you – and not hurting you? Casting directors know a lot about what makes a good first impression. An actor often has less than 20 seconds in an audition to prove why they are different – or be shown the door. While a customer may not physically throw you out, they can (and do!) mentally check out or bide their time until you’re done if you fail to make a good first impression. In this Video I share 4 Audition Secrets for Making a Memorable First Impression. Click here to read more about how you can apply all 5 Tips for Making a Great First Impression in Sales. Read More
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.