“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
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
Shakespeare said, “All the world is a stage,” and no where is this more true in business than when you delivering a sales presentation or a product demo. Whether your stage is a computer screen or a conference room, you must own the stage – in other words, earn and hold your prospect’s attention with complete conviction and confidence – if you want to make a lasting impression or move them to take action. As an actor I learned some simple techniques for helping to increase my presence and ability to connect with an audience that are extremely valuable as a salesperson. Here are a five in particular that can help you own the sales stage with great confidence and presence during a sales presentation, a meeting or a demonstration. 5 Ways to Own the Stage Understand bigger is not always better When I ask salespeople to own the stage, their Read More
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
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
The most common question I was asked when I was working as a professional actor was this: “How do you memorize all of those lines?” But the tougher question is really, “How do you take a script and make other people’s words sound like your own…performance after performance?” Making a script sound authentic is a challenge for both actors and for salespeople, but at least actors have the advantage of learning techniques for taking the words “off the page” and bringing them to life. Sellers, on the other hand, are often given a sales script instructed to memorize it and hit the phones or the streets running. No wonder many salespeople feel as uncomfortable as if they’ve been asked to recite Shakespeare for the first time. In fact, many sellers dislike working with sales scripts so much they end up chucking them entirely. While improvising works for some, for others their Read More
If you’re having trouble closing…it could be your presentation opening! If you don’t gain your audience’s attention initially and establish credibility, they’re not going to hear your great benefits, your value proposition or your super close!
In this video I role-play how a typical presentation opens. Take a moment to watch.
What did you think? I think I wasted a good 20 seconds of my audience’s time and lost some credibility… People have increasingly short attention spans and little patience for a lot of introductory fluff. You have a precious few seconds to grab your listener’s attention and draw them in. Don’t waste it
What’s the solution?
- Cut to the chase. Invest some time crafting a short, compelling opening that quickly delivers value and practice it until it shines. Having a rehearsed opening in your back pocket will give you a powerful boost of confidence and set the tone for the rest of your presentation.
- Eliminate the long intro’s, the thank you’s, the corporate overview /logo slide.
- Get more new ideas on powerful openings, here.
How did I start this video? I jumped right in. Were you thinking, wow, I wish she’d tell us more about herself or her company?! I doubt it. Don’t open your presentation like everybody else if you want to make an impact and be remembered!
And, a good opening will make your closing much more effective!
Warning: If you can hear a pin drop during your presentation, your audience may be asleep. Which one of the following is an example of a good listening skill? (A) Address your customer’s objection’s first. (B) Use animated listening. (C) Finish your customer’s question as proof you’re in sync. (D) Exaggerate your posture to show you are hanging on their every word. CUE IT UP! If you’ve ever played pool you know the white cue ball is in charge. When you’re presenting your product or service to a business audience, you’re in charge. You know the result you want, you aim, then celebrate the perfect shot as your audience rolls right into your pocket! Until, of course, the black 8 ball banks right instead of left. You’ve missed the mark, your opportunity has passed, and you’re left wondering what happened. A cue in acting is about knowing when to Read More
“Why are you wasting my life?” Can you imagine a client saying that to you after you delivered (what you thought) was a pretty good, on target presentation?? Jeff Bezos did exactly that after one of his engineers delivered a complicated, boring presentation to the outspoken founder of Amazon. I don’t know if that engineer still has a job at Amazon, but one thing I do know: if that were an outside salesperson, he or she would have left without a sale – and not even qualified for free shipping! While it’s rare that clients express themselves quite so bluntly after a sales presentation that misses the mark, I am sure there are times when they have wanted to stand up and join Jeff in demanding, “Why are you wasting my life?!” As a salesperson, you can’t afford to waste a moment of your client’s time or let the seeds Read More