Tag Archives: sales tips

Emotional Intelligence in Sales, Empathy and the Actor’s Magic “If”


Meryl Streep

“I’m curious about other people. That’s the essence of my acting. I’m interested in what it would be like to be you.” ~ Meryl Streep How did Meryl Streep play real people like Florence Foster Jenkins and Margaret Thatcher with such depth and authenticity? How did Daniel Day Lewis give the definitive portrayal of Abraham Lincoln? What does either have to do with emotional intelligence in sales?! While neither star had experience ruling a country, or singing opera, but they delivered authentic and award-winning performances requiring remarkable insight and empathy for their characters. One of the key qualities of emotional intelligence in sales is empathy, or the ability to identify with and understand what it’s like to walk in your customer’s shoes. Authentic empathy goes beyond simply recognizing what your customers emotional state is, to actually sharing in those feelings. Who has time for Empathy?! As a busy salesperson it Read More

5 Sales Role-Play Tips for Success from the Theater


Sales Role-play

Sales Reps hate to role-play. But you knew that, right?  Done well, role-play can be an exceptionally powerful tool in helping sales reps master communication skills and navigate many  changes in products, customers, and competition they continually face.  Unfortunately, approaching it with a gallows-like resolve as most sales reps do, limits the opportunity to get the real transformative benefits that role-play can produce.  What Sales Role-play Tips can help? Look no farther than your local theater.  Stages across the world consistently churn out winning performances using role-play as their primary tool.  Applying a few fundamentals from the theater to your sales role-play will greatly increase your sales reps’ understanding and confidence in the process and provide them with valuable insights they can apply immediately in the field. 5 Sales Role-play Tips for Success from the Theater: Clarify expectations.  Making sure everyone is clear about the goal of the role-play is key.  Keep Read More

Presentation Myths Busted

7 Presentation Myths – Busted! Get the Facts Before Your Presentation

A lot of advice on giving a presentation has been floating around since fax machines and uninformed buyers roamed the Earth.  Some of these presentation myths are urban legends, and some have simply reached their expiration date. Regardless of their source, these practices are capable of derailing your presentation, damaging your credibility, and causing your audience to tune out.

Like the popular television show Myth Busters, (No, your microwave will not blow up if you microwave a metal bowl!) I set out to “Bust” or “Confirm” some of the more common presentation myths I hear today.

7 Presentation Myths Busted

1.  All presentations should follow the 10-20-30 Rule  BUSTED

This widely quoted advice from Guy Kawasaki states that no presentation should use more than 10 slides, last longer than 20 minutes or use less than a 30 pt type.  In my experience, bad presentations can have three slides or 103 slides. They can be 10 minutes long or an hour. While this “rule” is rooted in selective facts (average attention span of about 20 minutes) it doesn’t take into account that you can actually “reset” that attention span to keep audience engagement high. Good news for presenters with more complex solutions!

Ultimately it is not the number of slides or minutes that determine whether a presentation is good or bad.  It’s the quality of those slides (All bullet points? Stock images?), how they’re presented (are you reading them to your audience? Are you interacting with them?) and whether that presentation is structured to align with audience attention spans.

Read more about maintaining attention in your presentation here.

2.  Never turn your back on your audience BUSTED

Of course you don’t want to have your back to your audience for an extended period of time, but a strict adherence to this old wives tale leads to all sorts of unnatural behavior.  I’ve seen presenters do weird cha-cha movements across the stage to avoid baring their back.  Or conversely, presenters remain tethered to their laptop or podium like a dog on a chain. If your movement is purposeful (i.e., to get somewhere), take the most direct route possible and be sure your back is not to your audience when you’re delivering a key message.

3.  The first 2-3 minutes of your presentation are the most important.  CONFIRMED

Research and Garr Reynolds, the author of Presentation Zen, agree with me here.  People form first impressions very quickly (7-15 seconds!), and those first impressions determine how people listen to you and perceive you.  Therefore it’s absolutely critical that you get your opening right.  According to The Charisma Myth: ‘CEO’s and HR pros admit they’ll decide whether to hire someone in the first few seconds.”  Spending a little extra time on your opening to make sure it truly reflects your message and your prospect’s best interests, has a major impact on the outcome of your presentation.

4.  Start your presentation by telling your audience about yourself and your company.  BUSTED

If #3 is true then #4 must be false.  Talking about yourself is not the highest and best use of those first few minutes. Start with something of interest to your prospect, like an insight into the problem you’re there to solve, or a preview of a potential benefit your solution delivers.  Get rid of the company overview.  It is highly unlikely that you and your company are a complete mystery to your audience.  Studies show that B2B buyers do up to 2/3 of their research before even contacting a company.  Don’t use those valuable first few minutes regurgitating what your audience likely already knows!

5.  Too much practice will make you appear phony.  BUSTED

Of all the presentation myths, this is perhaps the silliest. Presentations are one of the few crafts where practice is given a bad rap.  Imagine telling Michael Phelps to spend less time in the pool!  Proper practice gives you the skills and the confidence you need to focus on your audience during your presentation. What makes presenters appear phony is not practice, but “poor practice.”  If you practice any skill incorrectly you will simply reinforce already ineffective behaviors. Want to ensure your practice correctly and improve dramatically?  Practice with an experienced coach.

6.  Never read from your slides BUSTED

Blasphemy, I know!  But hear me out:  While most of the time you should NOT be reading your slides, there is an important exception to this rule.  If your slide has a short  (1-2 sentences) quote, statistic or key statement on it, go ahead and read it along with your audience. They’ll be reading it anyway. And this practice keeps you from the temptation to jump ahead and talk about something else while your audience is still reading from the slide.

7.  Close with Q&A.  BUSTED

When you save Q&A for the end of your presentation you relinquish control of how (and when) your presentation ends.  What if you get a question you can’t answer or one that incites negative discussion? Or, what if an audience member keeps the rest of the group hostage with a barrage of questions? Instead of leaving your audience with a strong, closing message that inspires them to move on to the next step, they remember the negative experience.

Take control of your closing and end the party on time with this method.

Don’t let these and other Presentation Myths keep you from getting your message across to your prospects.  Make the most of those hard-won customer-facing moments by getting my monthly Presentation Spotlight Newsletter with critical tips and tactics!

5 Tips for Commanding the Sales Stage


Performer on stage - commanding the sales stage

In order to grab and hold your prospects’ attention and get buy-in into the vision you are presenting for them with your sales presentation, you must inhabit your sales stage – whether it’s a an actual stage or a corner of a business office — with the complete conviction and confidence of a great performer.  How do you do that day after day, prospect after prospect?  You can learn to deliver an effective and compelling sales presentation each time by following these tips from performers on taking command of the sales stage: Tip #1: Banish self-consciousness. Self-consciousness often results in distracting movement that pulls the audience out of the performance. Doing some sales warm-up exercises will help to loosen up and channel some of that nervous energy into a positive force. ( Download your  free warm-up here.)  In addition, focusing on your purpose—to communicate your message in a way that affects your Read More

3 Questions Your Sales Presentation Must Answer


3 Questions Your Sales Presentation Manager Must Answer

There are as many variations in the content and structure of a sales presentation as Beyonce has wardrobe changes, but when it comes down to the question it must answer in your prospect’s mind, it will typically fall into one, two or all three of the following: Why should I buy this product or service? Why should I buy from you? Why should I buy now? Knowing which question(s) you must address is critical to how you structure and position your message —  one reason why doing a thorough discovery is so important. (For tips on the 5 things you must do in your discovery call, click here.)  Here are the key things to take into consideration when addressing each type of question in your presentation: Why should I buy this product or service? Your prospect may not yet be convinced that your product or service is the answer to Read More

Best Practices for Giving a Presentation on a Tablet or iPad


Woman holding an iPad

Part 2 of my series on best practices for giving a  sales presentation on a tablet or iPad. Delivering your sales presentation on a tablet or iPad can be an engaging way to grab your prospect’s attention and showcase your work or your products in a fresh, and engaging way.  The unique ability of tablets to address common selling situations in the moment makes them especially useful. Get an objection? Show a short video clip of a customer endorsement. Concerns about pricing or availability? Check inventory, price, and discounts in real time. Need to find detailed product specs? Access your data base with a few quick clicks.  Ready to seal the deal? Get a digital signature on the spot.a As user-friendly as tablets are, don’t underestimate the need to prepare and practice. I covered 5 key tips for delivering a presentation on a tablet or iPad in my last post, now here are Read More

Sneak Peek: Advanced Sales Presentation Tip: The Power of Intention


Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek:  Advanced Presentation Technique from my new e-Book:  “Take Your Sales Presentation to the Next Level” Get all 10 tips FREE here! A common concern I hear from sales manager’s centers around the ability of their sales team to passionately or enthusiastically present their solution: “I don’t know what it is. They know their material, they say all the right things, but they’re just not connecting with the audience.” “I know they’re passionate about our product, but it’s just not coming across in their presentation.” In my experience the cause of a dispassionate presentation is rarely due to the presenter’s lack of passion about their solution. It more often stems from the presenter’s intention, or lack of intention. What is an intention? Intentions are the driving force under all of our words and actions. They influence how we say things and therefore, how people respond to us. In the performance Read More

Dump the Company Selfie… I Mean Overview


company selfie

The company overview is today’s business selfie.  It’s that slide (or series of slides) that seems to be in most salespeople’s decks that shows any or all of the following: a picture of your building (ho hum), the timeline of your company’s growth (blah, blah, blah), and the awards your company has won (I’m sorry, are you still talking to me?) One thing I’ll say about the company overview is that it is an equal opportunity slide: it is as boring for the salesperson to deliver as it is for the customer to receive.   The truth is that these particular slides are better suited for a brochure than a live presentation. In this day and age your prospect likely already knows–or has access to–much of what you think you need to tell them about your company. Sure, there are key points you want to highlight for your audience, and there’s Read More

Better Results from Sales Role-Play Part 1: Setting the Stage


Better results from Sales Role Play

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 sales role-play 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 Read More

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


Will Smith - An actor's secret for getting in a selling state of mind

“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

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Performance Sales and Training: Persuasive Presentation Skills to meet the challenges of today’s B2B Sales Environment