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How much time do you spend preparing? Thursday, October 2, we all watched as Joe Biden and Sarah Palin showed us their communication skills. During the week the news showed clips of Sarah Palin standing behind the podium (on the lawn at John McCain’s house) practicing her talking points. And why shouldn’t she practice? She could wind up with the second highest job in the country or perhaps even that of President.  It just got me thinking, my experience is that most salespeople put lots of time into learning about their products but not as much time into how they present their product and themselves. Maybe they think the outcome of their performance isn’t as big as, say, their preparation for a Vice Presidential debate. But in actuality it is that big. It’s their future.

To be a good salesman you have to know both your product and your audience.

I find that as a speaker and trainer, it’s easier to sell product knowledge classes than it is to sell presentation skills. What salesmen don’t always realize is customers buy “them” before they buy the product knowledge.  It’s a lot easier to listen to the message if you like the presenter. In fact, some studies say that the salesperson is 37% of the sale. 

Buying is all about emotion. If I like the salesperson or the presenter, the message sounds better to me. As important is the product is, the presenter is even more important. If we’re not connected to the presenter we tend to discount the message or product. Of course you need to know your “message”; the trick is to know what you’re selling and have the skills to deliver the message.

 Too much product makes you boring and too much smiling makes you “fluffy.” The key is to have a good balance.  So how do you put it all together?

  • Do a trial run with your presentation, either in front of peers or a video camera. What do you look like? Are your mannerisms distracting? Are you smiling too much or smiling when you should be serious? Make a list of what’s important to your audience and critique the outcome with a colleague.
  • Know your audience. Be personable and get them to like you. Don’t be sarcastic or project an air of “being above them.”  If they don’t like you, forget your product, it will be hard to get the sale.
  • Project self-confidence. Remember, the audience wants you to do well. If you are uncomfortable and can’t deliver the message, the audience is going to take on your discomfort and pray you’ll get off the stage before it gets any worse.
  • Remember your diction skills. It’s okay to use slang to make a point, not because you don’t know the “right” word.
  • Build passion into your delivery. Speakers who are passionate are remembered. Even if we aren’t sure we agree with them, their emotional delivery will be etched in our memory.
  • Believe in what you’re saying. Believing in what you say and who you are will come across in your delivery. Remember, the key to getting others to buy what you’re selling is to first believe it yourself.
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