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Showing up and Throwing up…

You’re right – let’s chat about sales presentations.  

During our sales careers, we have often heard the cautionary statement, “don’t just show up and throw up”, haven’t we?  According to the accepted wisdom in our industry, when we just “show up and throw up” – we “blow up”. 

Clearly in our profession, sales presentations are a skills-based endeavor; but how do we avoid blowing up?  Lots of opinions and resources are available for this topic, aren’t there.  But whose opinions and examples are right?  Is there an expert?  We can always turn to Ben; 

Learn from the skillful:  He that teaches himself hath a fool for his master.

                                  Benjamin Franklin 

I’ve been invited to observe several of my fellow sales professionals recently on their presentation skills.  I’ve tried to coach them on how to avoid blowing up – but  who am I to say? 

We might all agree that effective sales presentations involve a high degree of individual style and personal preference.  And our styles and preferences are all very different from one another.  So at the risk of “throwing up” – and “blowing up” – permit me to offer two considerations, based on my own presentation explosion events over the years. 

If you haven’t practiced your presentation – they will notice. 

QUESTION:  When was the last time you practiced your presentation?  Yep – I’m talking about role-plays; in front of your peers; recorded on camera; the works.  Now, if we were an offensive guard for the Denver Broncos, we would practice our pass-blocking footwork over and over and over again, wouldn’t we?  We would review the film of our practices with our coach, too. And if we didn’t, our lack of preparation would be obvious on game day, as our opponent “blows us up”.  Is our sales profession any less professional than professional football? 

SOAPBOX WARNING:  It’s one of my biggest “pet-peeves”.  (Of course, my pet peeves are not important, really; I’m just another sales guy.)  But, if we are not practicing our sales presentations with a teammate, manager, or at least to our dog – then we are practicing on our prospects.  And their pet peeves are important.  Oh, they won’t offer us feedback for improvement.  Nope, they’ll just keep their opinions – and their purchases – to themselves. 

If you have 2-hours of content prepared for a 1 hour meeting – don’t try to talk faster. 

We have all been in this situation before, right?  The prospect cuts our allotted time; we scheduled a 2-hour appointment, but when we showed up they said they have to leave early.  So we tried to sell faster, didn’t we:

 “OK, Mr. Prospect.  Buckle up, please.  Hold your questions.  Better have some more coffee…” 

And my favorite icing on the Meeting-Time-Mismanagement-Cake is when the sales rep adds, “You probably will never use this, but I wanted to show it to you anyway”.  (What?  Is that the sound of a presentation blowing up in the background?  I smell gun powder – you?) 

Oh, there’s much, much more we could add.   But that would move this from a brief discussion to a “throw up” (and “blow up”).  Permit me to summarize with a sales presentation best practice offered by my favorite source – the Unknown Sage: 

            If a thing goes without saying, let it. 

So, before we have to call the Bomb Squad, let’s all defuse our sales presentations with a commitment to practicing them ahead of time, coupled with an excellent approach to time management, yes?  

                               GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please check it out Subscribe.

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