Sales Presentations – Three Questions to Answer

Everyone sells something. You sell your buddy on a new fishing spot. You sell your neighbors on a new restaurant to go to for dinner. Your kids sell you on raising their allowance.

Everyone sells something. We present our case. We persuade. To persuade by definition is the ability to convince by appealing to reason or understanding.

If you are going to make a sales presentation you need to know that presenting the case for your product isn’t enough. You need to be sharp, articulate, time oriented, entertaining and persuasive to get the job done.

Terri Sjodin, author of Sales Speak wrote that too many sales presentations are going the way of information overload and not enough about persuasion. I agree. Anyone can deliver information. Really. Anyone can read a brochure and figure out what it is that’s being sold. The key is to be able to answer three questions:

o Why you?
o Why your company, product, services?
o Why now?

The last question, “Why now?” is the call to action. It’s the answer to the sense of urgency you’ve created. Many sales people drop the ball here. They never close. They never make a call to action. They just sort of pack up and go after the information giving. Don’t make that mistake.

Persuasion isn’t about being pushy. It’s about being excited about the idea you’re bringing to the table and leading others to join your excitement. It’s about being able to make a call for action and having decision makers act on that call.

The Importance of Negotiation Training – Secret Business Tip – Defer

As you may know, negotiating isn’t for everyone. Many in business realize this fact but others don’t. Those of us with a technical or artistic background may not make the best negotiators. This is unfortunate for those in the early part of their careers. It is during this time when you are your own best advocate so you will have to do your own negotiating. You don’t have much experience and likely no formal training. Doubtless, your counterpart has much of both.

When you enter into a negotiating session, take a moment to evaluate the situation. Who is your counterpart? Much older and more successful than you? If so, you really should be prepared before your negotiating session. If you aren’t ready, often the best tactic is to defer. This is especially true if you are caught off guard.

Say your boss calls you into his office and tells you to close the door. “Let’s discuss your salary review now”, he says. You thought that your annual review would be next month so you didn’t really do any planning for this conversation. What do you do? You certainly want to hear what your boss has to say. Let him go first. Evaluate why he wants to discuss the matter early. Hopefully he just wants to reward you early because you are such a valued employee. Maybe he wants you to keep working hard now. Maybe there isn’t any money for raises and the policy has just been given to your boss. Find out. By carefully listening, you may get some great information. Not just about your current salary, but the company in general.

You may be put on the spot in an unplanned negotiation. “What do you think would be fair at a difficult economic time like this?”, you may be asked. How can you answer? Fair might be no raise at all. Maybe a pay cut. Maybe free overtime. There are possibly lots of options. The real answer is that the fair option now is the same as it always is – what’s in it for you? That’s it.

When you really aren’t prepared to negotiate and you get put on the spot, you need to defer the session. Ask yourself what’s in it for you. Maybe you just got offered improvements that work. If so, count yourself lucky and do the deal. If you didn’t, you need to stop the session and start again when you are ready. “Well”, you can say, “I thought we would discuss my salary increase next month”. This is a strong response. He may have just said that there is no money, times are bad, people are being let go, they have to buy water with only one hydrogen atom now, whatever. “I would like to review what you said and look at my options”. This would be a good time to reschedule. “Can we finish this tomorrow morning?” You need time to prepare but you want to get something finished.

With your position stated, you think you deserve a raise and you want to finish the negotiation the next day, (or as soon as possible), you can maintain a strong position. Now you can wait and listen, again, to what the response is. This gives you a chance to evaluate your counterpart again. If he persists, trying to get you to commit to a number, ask yourself why. Ask yourself, again, what’s in it for you. At this point, it likely isn’t good. Get out.

By deferring a surprise negotiating session to a time when you are better prepared, you can often be much more comfortable with the process. If you are comfortable, you will have a better negotiating experience. Each time you go through the process, the experience helps you get ready for the next one. Each negotiating session will be similar, in some respects to others that you have had. Listening to your counterpart and deferring to a better time will help you to increase “what’s in it for you”, and that is always the point to negotiating.

Essentials of Oral Presentations

Many speakers, even mature, well-educated people come on to the dais but fail to make an interesting presentation of their ideas on the given topic. Such poor speakers bore the audience so much that the audience yawns and struggles to stay awake. Quite sadly in some presentations the audience cannot recall at the end of a lecture what they have learned though the speaker has delivered copious amounts of information and given its analysis. Usually the purpose of a presentation is either to inform or convince or entertain, but an unskilled, ill-informed speaker can achieve none of these. An analysis of the factors responsible for the failure of a presentation of a hypothetical speaker is made in the following paragraphs. It is needless to say that the rectification of those factors leads to success.

Assertion of the speaker’s authority and a proper body language: Some speakers don’t give the impression that they are the right people to talk on the given topic, either by their nervous behavior or their failure to inform the audience of their credentials on the topic. Quite strangely, some speakers all through their talk either rivet their attention on a single listener or don’t look at the audience at all, giving their full attention to the notes they have brought. Some stare absently at the objects or look around the room for no reason or play nervously with objects like pen or note book which not only annoys the audience but elicits their distrust also.

Voice Modulation: Another important reason for the failure of a speech is a voice which is terribly monotonous, lacking in the modulations and reflects neither the feelings attached to each piece of information nor the inferences made from such information. (Fast 108) Such presentations make it difficult for the audience to understand; similarly in some presentations, the voice of the speaker and his point are mutually contradictory. A clear, modulating voice is a tool to make meaning clearer, but an improper use of it leads to confusion and irritation. (Jehan 105)

Introduction to the given topic: The audience has to be walked into a context. Listeners who have taken the pains to come to a venue are definitely interested in a speech. But the first and foremost factor defining the success of a lecture is the way the topic is introduced: its importance has to be explained, its relevance to the life or career of each member of the audience has to be properly connected, and the basic concepts related to the topic have to be explained. Many speakers are not aware of this essential requirement of a lecture and hence focus more on the quantity of information – a lot of statistics, numerous references and scores of examples- while failing to lay a foundation for the audience to understand those reams of information.

Fewer Perspectives rather than many: Many speakers deliver their speech with a false notion that many perspectives and many ideas make it a success. But the listeners can neither remember nor refer to all the contents of speech some time later like one does with the written material; meaning of a speech has to made on the spot; they can not postpone it just because there is a lot of information; A speech where its meaning is postponed is definitely the one whose purpose is ruined. The hallmark of a good speech is that the audience understands it on the spot as they listen. For this to happen, the entire speech no matter how big it is should center on very few principal ideas-three or four. Too many ideas leave the audience wondering where they are being led.

Preparation: A speaker who is comfortable in his presentation and having adequate control over what he is going to talk about can deliver his message effectively. That he is comfortable in his job is reflected in his voice, which is well-modulated and exactly tuned to the level of the audience – neither loud nor low-and in an appropriate facial expression. A ‘comfortable’ speaker makes the audience comfortable. A ‘comfortable’ audience receives the message correctly and nothing can stop them from rating the lecture highly. A comfortable audience of the lecture forgets all of their other concerns and is lost in the lecture only. At the end, it carries home a pleasant experience as well as an insightful learning. But the key to such a level of success is preparation. A presentation can be successful only as much as its preparation is. During preparation, a speaker chooses everything that he has to deliver: information, experiences, stories, examples, visual aids, order of points, jokes, and even words too!

To sum up, many experienced, educated people are poor speakers; the success of a speech depends primarily on the preparation, introduction, voice, and body language. It is a false notion that a successful speech requires many perspectives and several ideas; three or four principal ideas are enough.

Works Cited

Fast, Julius. Body Language, New York: Pocket Books, 1970.

Jehan, Gorge W. Persuasive Speaking. Surrey,U.K: Elliot Right Way Books Limited, 1972.