Speak Like A CEO: Finish the Book Before Choosing the Cover
“A major mistake is creating a presentation before thinking about what you want to say.”
Speak Like A CEO by Suzanne Bates, page 84
It wasn’t too many years ago when the ideal sales candidate exhibited an outgoing extroverted personality. In order to be considered as a successful sales candidate, you had to come with the “gift-of-gab” and be highly tolerant of being rejected.
Am I glad those days are over!
There is still a lot of talk about closing sales, overcoming objections, and upselling your services and products. This probably explains why I don’t list too many sales managers on my good guy list. It appears that they all drank the Kool-aid from years gone by. We have grown apart over the years, and our philosophies have grown out of sync. (By the way, my way is the right way.)
I’ve seen it too many times, and I am probably as guilty as most, when it came to winging it and “shooting from the hip” in lieu of much-necessary focused rehearsal time. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t too many years ago when I was considered the prodigal son of the silver-tongued devil. (Yuck!) I never did manage to sell an ice cube to an Eskimo, but I was never scared to try.
One major reasons why old style salespeople don’t succeed today has much to do with an educated audience. The Internet has leveled the playing field and consumers know how to Google with the best of them. Information is not a protected resource any longer.
To help soften the “preparation-blow,” here are six suggestions that will lead to a more profitable sale’s record.
- The Big Idea. What is it you are trying to say? No, what is it you are taking up my precious time to tell me? Have a point. Get to your point.
- Have Three Main Points. You may have more than three, but chances are my attention span will conk out after three. Play the percentages. Stick with three. (A,B,C; 1,2,3; Red, Blue, Yellow; Small, Medium, Large.)
- Think What Questions May Be Asked. This is sometimes referred to a “what-if scenario.” Write down all the logical questions that might come from your audience and prepare short but complete responses for each. This way you will eliminate most surprises and look like you really know your stuff.
- Tell a Story. People remember stories more than they remember facts and statistics. I bet you can retell The Three Little Pigs or Rocky. Be sure the story you choose to share has relevance, and please keep it short. Once you hear yourself say, “To make a long story short…” it is probably too late.
- Talking Points. This suggestion comes from professional interviews. The person interviewed does not agree to an interview hoping they won’t become a public whipping pole (the exception here is the TV Show 60 Minutes. Anybody who agrees to be interviewed on 60-Minutes has a secret death wish). Candidates are positioning to make their strongest statements regarding a certain topic or two. These are known as “talking points.” Know what information you are trying to convey and make sure you accomplish the task.
- Graphical Elements. If you have a slide deck or printed handouts, make certain that they are not simply data dumps. A single photo, if selected properly, will speak volumes when it comes to supporting your talking points. A picture is still worth a thousand words.
Bottom Line: Think about what you want to say, to whom you want to say it to, and how you are going to deliver your message so it is retained and hopefully acted upon.
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