Business conversations trump product presentations – An STC Classic

A Classic - '63 Corvette

A Classic – ’63 Corvette

Sales conversations are more engaging than sales presentationstalking with is more effective than talking at.

The culprit is inherent in the nature of presentations.  In a presentation information is being presented to us. We sit quietly while someone “shows” us something and “tells” us why we need to do something.  Often the presenter uses phrases like “it’s critical …” or “the research clearly shows” in order that the listener is aware of the importance of what is being presented.

There is a core problem with presentations; it is easy to tune out. We don’t listen to all the information coming at us because we are being talked at.

Why are conversations much more engaging than presentations? Information is revealed, but it’s couched in a conversational narrative that conveys a desire for mutual understanding and comprehension. We are invited to hear what is being shared and take it in on a personal level. It feels authentic and real to us.

While most successful salespeople are relatively good at interacting with single individuals as soon as they have a meeting with multiple people the train often jumps the track.  ”Talking to” goes way up … and “talking with” goes way down. But need it?  And more importantly should it?  Short answer in both cases is: No.

Just because the meeting is with multiple people does not mean you have to launch into presentation mode and start talking more. In reality, when talking with a group, each person in the audience is listening as an individual so remembering that point will automatically result in a better connection with your audience.

Now are there times in sales when you have to do a traditional formal type presentation – with PowerPoints and all the rest.  Yes, of course.  But too often we jump into that mode when it is not necessary.  In most multi-people meetings and even in some formal presentations, the better way is to remember: business conversations trump product presentations.

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©2014 Sales Momentum, LLC

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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5 Responses to Business conversations trump product presentations – An STC Classic

  1. Brian MacIver says:

    Janet, you remind me what great Sales Thought Leaders REALLY do:
    They make Complexity, Simple.
    And, the Complex is made Easy!

    Great Blog………………….Happy weekend, and thanks!

  2. Fred Swan says:

    You make a great point when a topic or training is not interactive.

    I have been a Telephone Sales Rep / Account Manager for 25 years.

    Many times a phone calls turn into a group sales call.
    Once I have gotten everyone’s name and job function I always review what my initial customer requested.

    Then I ask the group to confirm this is what is needed, I then give my opinion on the best way to solve the need.

    Most of the time I get an engaged group that wants to complete the task.
    Calmly bringing the group into focus is in the control of the rep.

    Keeping everyone engaged is the key to any great sales opportunity.

  3. susan ross says:

    One of the simplest concepts I use/teach in either case is the idea of asking permission to ask questions. The client/group always says yes, which puts me in control of the conversation, with their permission; and often puts the client/s at ease because they don’t have to create questions! Often when selling a service or intangible especially, the only question the client may know to ask is “what’s the cost?”. Simply taking control and showing respect by asking permission to ask questions sets the stage for a smooth and interactive presentation.

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