Have Conversations not Presentations

As we wrap up our company’s annual national business meeting after a busy (but very successful) 2019, I reflect back at the year as a whole.  I also take in all the moments I have with the sales team members at the event, talking about specific successes or challenges they are going through in the specific markets.


When some of the team members ask for feedback on a challenge with a prospect they are having and I hear them explain the situation, I start to try to connect the dots in my head on the scenario they describe.


What I often find is one or two critical pieces of information that they are lacking from their perspective customer that is preventing the sales process from moving forward.  What stands out to me the most is that often they are already through the presentation phase/process!  


This is a huge red flag, how (or really WHY) have you moved the customer this far down the sales process and NOT have ALL the critical details needed to maximize the value for the customer and maximize the chances that you earn the business.


Just because you’ve secured a presentation meeting doesn’t mean the two-way exchange of information stops.  For me, it’s actually the opposite.


View your presentation as a conversation.  


First off, there’s not many people out there that actually want to be presented to in a small 1on1 or similar format.  Death by PowerPoint is a real thing!  To add to that, the presentation is an opportunity to go deep on specific challenges they are facing vs. going wide on how we can solve all of their problems.  We all like to think we can solve for everything, simply put, we can’t.  


Often where we fall short is on the information we lack on one specific critical problem the customer has because we are trying to close the deal on a basic understanding of an array of low priority problems the prospective customer has.


If you catch yourself in the moment, pause your presentation and ignite the conversation.  If you feel like you’re talking too much during the presentation, you probably are. 


Many of us do a lot of presentation meetings, the repetitiveness and sheer volume of this process can form bad habits, one being a decrease in your listening skills.  Be self-aware enough to recognize this.  


One strategy to deploy during moments like these is using one of my favorite questions to ask a prospective customer during a presentation: “What about this is most important to you?” 


After their response, “WHY is that most important to you?” 


This is where the gold lies.  Their specific problem and where you can solve it.


It sounds simple, but think to yourself, do you really know that, or are you thinking from your own perspective first, “shot gunning” your value props hoping to get to it.


Often a simple open-ended question like this will lead to having a deep conversation around the one primary problem a prospective customer is trying to overcome.  More importantly, this gets to the emotion of the business issue at hand.  


The presentation then pivots from a one-way transfer of information, to a deep two-way exchange of information.  


Use your presentation as a reference to your conversation and focus on the specific critical issue at hand, the rest of your value props become “icing on the cake” to the one critical issue you solve for them.


Happy selling!


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